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Duke's Singing Tower

A familiar sound to alumni of the divinity school, Duke Chapel’s 50-bell carillon was one of the first in the South. The formal inaugural recital given in June 1931 by Anton Brees, a native of Belgium and one of America’s foremost carillonneurs, attracted more than 10,000 people.

The bells were cast in Loughborough, England, by John Taylor Bellfounders Ltd., the world’s leading and largest bellfoundry, which continues a line of bellfounding stretching back to the 14th century.

Brees referred to the carillon as “Duke’s Singing Tower” and “a force of inspiration and a Standard-Bearer of Truth and Beauty.” His weekly recitals, held each Thursday, attracted large crowds.

Duke University Archives

Archived photo (c. 1950) of students on the quad for the weekly Thursday carillon concert by Anton Brees, Duke University's first carilloneur.

J. Samuel Hammond T’68, D’96 playing
Duke Chapel’s 50-bell carillon.
Christine T. Nguyen,
The Herald Sun, Durham, N.C.


Alumnus J. Samuel Hammond, who earned a Master of Theological Studies degree here in 1996, succeeded Brees in 1965, while an undergraduate student at Duke. He was designated University Carillonneur in 1986. Hammond is a member of the Guild of Carillonneurs of North America, and he works in special collections at Duke’s Perkins Library.  


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