ROCHESTER, Minn. - Patients, Mayo Clinic staff, and pretty much anyone that spends time in downtown Rochester knows the familiar sound of the Mayo bells. But it’s been a while since we’ve heard the Rochester Carillon chime.
For Carillonneur Austin Ferguson, you could say work has been a little quiet. The last concert he played was September 21st.
“It’s been actually kind of frustrating in terms of not having a creative outlet to be able to utilize for so long. I will say, I have gotten a lot of administrative work done,” he explains.
For the past six months, the 90-year-old Rochester Carillon underwent a complete renovation. Ferguson says the new and improved instrument is well worth the wait.
“By doing the scope of the work that we did, this will keep us good for 40-50 more years.”
Ferguson, who just celebrated his two-year anniversary as the Mayo Clinic Carillonneur, isn’t the only one who has missed the chimes of the Mayo bells.
“I work in the Mayo Building and we have patients coming up to the desk saying, “Where’s the music, where’s the bells?”” says Matt Dacy.
Dacy has worked at Mayo for more than three decades and helps keep the history of Mayo Clinic alive as the director of the Heritage Hall Museum. Dacy could tell you just about anything you’d want to know about these historic bells, including the impact they have on patients, visitors, and staff.
“It’s very meaningful to a lot of people,” he says. “You can tell they’re very interested in [the bells] and everyone is feeling marvelous that you can hear the bells again.”
“It’s kind of engrained in the psyche almost of the city,” Ferguson adds. “It’s well loved and people love to listen to it.”
The renovation work wrapped up Wednesday and since then Ferguson has been learning how to work the new clock chime system.
For anyone wondering if the bells will sound any different, Ferguson says not to the untrained ear. People will however notice that it will be louder from the ground. That’s because part of the project included raising the entire bell frame several feet.
The first concert on the newly-rebuild Rochester Carillon will be Friday at noon. The regular daily concert schedule will resume after that.