Campanile bell to toll April 4 for Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King speaking on the steps of Sproul Hall in 1967. (UC Berkeley photo by Helen Nestor)

The Campanile’s 5.25-ton Great Bear Bell will toll 39 times on Wednesday, April 4, the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. This honors a request by the National Civil Rights Museum for church and campus bells around the world to join that day’s MLK50 Bell Toll. King, an American Baptist minister and nonviolence activist, was fatally shot at age 39 on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee.

Shortly after noon, when the bell rings the hour, the tolling will begin for King. The bell will toll for approximately five minutes. The carillon will then accompany the University Gospel Chorus for the anthems “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” and “We Shall Overcome,” two standards of the civil rights movement.

Members of the campus community and general public are invited to the Campanile Esplanade for the UC Berkeley Department of Music event.

Anthems by the University Gospel Chorus will be accompanied by the carillon. (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)

Mark Wilson directs the chorus, which is offered as a course to all students and UC Berkeley community members, by audition only, as well as to students taking it for academic credit. The carillon will be played on Wednesday by Leslie Chan, a Ph.D. candidate in chemical and biomolecular engineering who also is a student of University Carillonist Jeff Davis. Davis wrote the arrangements for the carillon music to be performed.

This observance is just one of several activities taking place during the centennial of Berkeley’s 61-bell carillon. Throughout 2018, Davis will be inviting carillonists and composers to collaborate on performances; the festivities will culminate this summer with the 2018 UC Berkeley Carillon Festival. These events also are intended to raise awareness of and funds for the instrument, which is in dire need of repair.