Harkness bells toll for the second anniversary of COVID-19

A special concert by the Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs at Harkness Tower marked the second anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Julia Wojtkowski

11:58 pm, Mar 13, 2022

Courtesy of Julia Wojtkowski

The bells of Harkness Tower rang out on Friday at noon in a special concert commemorating the second anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The concert, played by three members of the Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs, aimed to uplift and inspire the University community after two years of hardship brought upon by the pandemic. Guild advisor Ellen Dickinson ’97 MUS ’99 said that all of the music was specially chosen for the occasion to emphasize hope and highlight the spirit of the memorial.

“[The concert served] both as a memorial to those who have died, and in gratitude for all those who have given so much of themselves during this time, such as health care workers and many others, as well as in celebration of community and the ways in which we all have worked together over these two years,” Dickinson said. 

As the carillon can be heard from a mile away, and therefore reaches distant areas of campus, the Guild aimed to be broad and inclusive in its repertoire. The first selection, performed by Evan Hochstein ’23, was “Healing Bells,” a piece written in 2020 during the pandemic and based on the Ukrainian folk song “Plyve Kacha.” 

Mitchell Dubin ’25 performed three songs at the concert, including “Memorial” by Theophil Rusterholz and “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson. Joyce Liao ’25 closed out the concert by playing “Hana wa Saku” (“Flowers will Bloom”), a Japanese song of hope. 

“I really like the juxtaposition of two of my songs: one song specifically written for memorializing tragedy and a second song that was uplifting,” Dubin said. “Neither of them would have been as meaningful without the other.” 

Dubin shared that the concert was special given that the Harkness bells were not operating at certain points in the pandemic. Dickinson said she hoped that the music was “meaningful” to the campus community. 

The concert was specially requested by the President’s Office, which had also organized a similar concert celebrating the first anniversary of the pandemic. 

“I am immensely grateful to the Yale Guild of Carillonneurs for helping our community take a moment to remember and reflect and to the students who [played at the concert],” University President Peter Salovey said. 

“It’s nice after last year when it was not operating at all but now we are back and not only are we there playing but we are there together,” Dubin said. 

The Carillon has a total of 54 bells, 10 of which were installed in 1921, and the remainder in 1964.