Baylor Graduate To Make Mark As World-Class Carillonneur

  • News Photo 381
    Baylor graduate Joseph Daniel serenaded Ring Out participants with "That Good Old Baylor Line" on the McLane Carillon.
  • News Photo 380
    Joseph Daniel
  • News Photo 382
    Joseph Daniel (left) with Dr. Herbert Colvin, University Carillonneur and professor emeritus of music theory.
June 13, 2002

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Many musicians pursue the carillon as a leisurely pastime, but 2002 Baylor University graduate Joseph Daniel will be one of the few worldwide who will make the majestic bronze bell instrument his life's work.

Daniel, who's from Corpus Christi, earned his bachelor of music degree May 18 with a double major in organ performance and music theory, as a student of both Dr. Joyce Jones and Dr. Herbert Colvin. In the fall, he will begin graduate study at the University of Michigan, where he will be the school's second student ever to pursue a master's degree in carillon performance.

"It was a wonderful experience to study with both Dr. Jones and Dr. Colvin," Daniel said. "They've both had me as a student and have actively promoted my carillon career."

When Daniel first came to Baylor, he had no idea what a carillon was. A meeting with Colvin, University Carillonneur and professor emeritus of music theory, sparked Daniel's interest in the McLane Carillon located in the bell tower of Pat Neff Hall.

"So many people approach the carillon as a hobby, but I've found a career up there," Daniel said. "I just sat down and felt right at home. My organ background helped a lot."

The carillon is a musical instrument of at least 23 cast bronze bells and a mechanical playing keyboard (or clavier) with a pedalboard. Dedicated in 1988 as a gift from the Drayton McLane family and the McLane Company Inc., Baylor's 22-ton, 48-bell McLane Carillon is among only about 115 carillons in North America with a range of four octaves or more. The bells strike the quarter hours and the hours, can be played manually from the tower or operated by a computer system to play melodies at regular intervals.

Under the tutelage of Colvin, Daniel has become one of the most accomplished young carillonneurs in the world, earning high praise from his professor.

"He's the best student I've ever had," Colvin said.

One of Daniel's biggest tests will come June 26-29 when he performs a recital before the entire membership of the Guild of Carillonneurs of North America, a group that includes more than 500 performers, composers, carillon designers, architects, donors and patrons of the carillon, churches, universities, other institutions with carillons, carillon bell founders and carillon builders. For Daniel to become a full member, he will have to be judged "professionally qualified" to play the carillon by successfully completing an examination process and performing before the group's annual meeting on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor.

If there is one thing in Daniel's favor, he is quite familiar with the carillon he will play.

"I've already played the instrument during my graduate school audition so I'm comfortable with it," he said.

However, Daniel's most emotional performance in his young career came May 17 during Baylor's traditional Ring Out ceremony. While seniors, juniors and their families gathered on Burleson Quadrangle for the event, Daniel serenaded them with several selections, including a moving rendition of "That Good Old Baylor Line."

"It was very emotional," Daniel said. "I invited my family and friends into the tower to watch as I played."

After completing graduate school, Daniel aspires to teach organ or carillon performance and music theory at the university level, hopefully he says, at his alma mater.

"I would love to come to Baylor and follow in the footsteps of Dr. Colvin and Dr. Jones," he said. "It would be an enormous pair of shoes to fill, but I would come back to Baylor in a heartbeat. Baylor has a wonderful instrument with the potential to build a world-class program."

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