Ray McLellan, carillonneur (1997–present)
Ray McLellan was appointed in 1997 as the University Carillonneur at Michigan State University, where he teaches and performs on the 49-bell Beaumont Tower Carillon. McLellan earned his BA degree at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, and his MM and DMA degrees from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He also studied in Freiburg, Germany, and at the Netherlands Carillon School. In addition to his work at MSU, McLellan serves as organist/music director at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Monroe, and as organist/accompanist at Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor. He has performed carillon recitals in the USA, Canada, The Netherlands, France and Germany. McLellan currently serves on the exam committee and is co-chair of the Barnes Scholarship committee of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America. He is also a member of the faculty of the North American Carillon School.
Margo Halsted, carillonneur (1996–1997)
Margo Halsted, a noted carillonist, is an active recitalist, teacher, speaker, jurist, musicologist, and consultant, who has performed concerts in all countries with an active carillon tradition. Several of her students have passed the examination to become full carillonneur members of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America. Particularly interested in historic carillon music, she has published articles and a book on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century carillon manuscripts from Belgium. She has been a featured recitalist or speaker for four World Carillon Federation meetings. In addition to degrees from Stanford University and the University of California, Riverside, Halsted holds a diploma from the Netherlands Carillon School.
William Vajda, carillonneur (1985–1987)
William Vajda served as the carillonneur for MSU from 1985-1987. Vajda earned a B.A. in Music Composition in 1984 from the University of Michigan, where he studied carillon performance with William De Turk. The MSU carillon was in need of repair and renovation, but Vajda played as much as he could, in light of the instrument’s various problems. He always managed to play at least the Fight Song before home football games and short recitals at other times. Vajda’s teaching duties were suspended because of the condition of the instrument. In his second year at MSU especially, much of Vajda’s time was spent reviewing proposals for carillon renovation work. He left his position when funding for improvements to the carillon didn’t materialize.
Wendell Westcott, carillonneur (1941–1987)
Wendell J. Westcott, an instructor of piano at the School of Music and an accomplished organist, was assigned to play the Beaumont Tower carillon in 1941 and served as its carillonneur for more than four decades. He performed frequent recitals at Beaumont Tower and elsewhere in the United States and other countries, as well as playing on football Saturdays and for special events. During a sabbatical year (1956-1957), Westcott attended the Carillon School in Mechelen, Belgium, and was the first in the Carillon School’s history to receive his diploma with the highest honors it bestowed. Westcott arranged music of all styles for playing on the carillon and composed original carillon music. Westcott encouraged the enhancement of the MSC carillon and oversaw its development in stages, until by 1959 it had grown from a 23-bell basic instrument to a 48-bell concert carillon. Westcott was the organizer and director of the Spartan Bell Ringers, a handbell group featuring MSU students. For more on Westcott's distinguished career and a statement by the College of Music on his death in 2010, click here.
Russell Daubert, carillonneur (1929–1941)
Russell (“Jake”) Daubert was an MSC swimming coach who, as an unpaid volunteer, was the first bell player at Beaumont Tower. The MSC Board Secretary (then responsible for Beaumont Tower) asked Daubert to be responsible for playing, after Daubert informed him of having had carillon training at Bok Tower in Florida. With only ten bells and a standing bell-chime mechanism, however, he would have been limited to playing melodies with a few harmony notes. Daubert was a strong advocate for development of the chime into a carillon, and he soon succeeded in having three bells added (by pointing out that ten notes were not sufficient to play the College’s alma mater). By 1935 he had inspired further expansion to the 23 bells necessary to constitute a full carillon, along with a new two-octave carillon keyboard. Daubert played regularly, for weekly recitals, for special occasions, and for athletic events, arranged music, and gave carillon lessons to selected MSC seniors. In 1941 the Board Secretary transferred responsibility for the carillon, by then considered a musical instrument, to the School of Music, which turned to its own faculty to fulfill performance and teaching responsibilities.
Laurie Harkema, assistant carillonneur, has a B.A. in Music Education from Calvin College and an M.M. in Piano Performance from Michigan State University. She taught elementary school music in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and in the Okemos, Michigan Public Schools for over 20 years. Laurie has worked as a church musician in California and New Mexico, and currently is Director of the Adult Choir and an Organist/Pianist at River Terrace Church in East Lansing. She began studying the carillon with Ray McLellan in 2016 and is an associate member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America.
Sally Harwood, assistant carillonneur, began her carillon study in 1996 as the first student of Margo Halsted at the newly refurbished Beaumont Tower Carillon, and studied with Ray McLellan after his appointment by MSU in 1997. Harwood was admitted to full carillonneur membership in the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America in 2000 after successfully completing the required advancement recital. In 2008, Harwood retired from 21 years of service as an Associate General Counsel at Michigan State University. For the academic year 2010-2011 she studied at the Royal Carillon School ‘Jef Denyn’ in Mechelen, Belgium, earning her end diploma “with distinction”.
Irina S. Kemp, a piano player from age 7, assistant carillonneur, has a B.A. in education and an Associate degree in nursing. She taught high school English in her native Ukraine from 1986 to 1996. Had a dream to play carillon since her student years. She travelled from Ukraine to Lithuania to listen to carillon recitals. Irina works as a registered nurse at Sparrow Cancer Center. She began studying carillon with Ray McLellan in 2015. She likes to arrange piano peaces for playing carillon. She also enjoys playing Ukrainian and Russian songs by ear. She started playing weekly carillon recitals in December 2018.
William C. McHarris, assistant carillonneur, is a professor emeritus of chemistry and physics at Michigan State University. He has studied the carillon since 1996, first with Margo Halsted and later with Ray McLellan. He studied music composition as an undergraduate, and he has composed a number of works for carillon. His set of eight carillon pieces, “Venturesome Inventions,” was published by American Carillon Music Editions.