DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When the City of Dallas celebrates a victory or mourns a great loss, she knows just the right note to play.
Carol Anne Taylor is the Carillonneur for the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
When you walk by the Cathedral on Ross Avenue in the Dallas Arts District, the sounds of church bells often fill the air.
This daily concert, ringing out from 224 feet above the city is really a one-woman-show.
Carol Anne Taylor, perched up in the bell tower, has played the carillon for the last 13 years.
The music she makes up in the sky resonates with people on the ground.
“I’m always amazed when visitors come to the cathedral and walk into bottom of tower and they just look up and gasp,” Carol Anne says.
The church cornerstone dates back to 1898, but the carillon — a musical instrument of 49 brass bells arranged in chromatic order — was not hoisted into place until 2005.
It was a gift from James and Lynn Moroney, who gave the money to complete the bell tower that the cathedral’s architect envisioned 100 years ago.
The bells range in size from 8 inches to 5 feet 11 inches, and as a whole are very heavy. A steel structure that begins far beneath the ground helps support the tens of thousands of pounds of the bells’ weight.
Wooden batons are mechanically connected to the bells above, sounding out the different notes. The carillon keys resemble a piano or organ.
Carol Anne is the children’s choir director for the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, and a life long organ and piano player. When she first sat down at the carillon, she says the connection was instant.
“A friend of mine said it was like a duck taking to water. It was just so comfortable,” she recalls.
Hourly strikes on the clock are automated, but the sounds of celebrations, memorials, and songs are all played — and arranged — by Carol Anne.
At least three times a week she makes the 145-step climb up the bell tower to play. What may seem like a workout for some, she does with ease. Carol Anne is an avid runner, having completed 40 marathons in the last 18 years.
All the time, her mind is on the music she is about to play.
There are celebrations:
“When the Mavericks won the NBA title [in 2011], I played, ‘We Are The Champions’,” Carol Anne says.
She plays in sad times, too: In April, Carol Anne tolled the bells 27 times for fallen Dallas Police Officer Rogelio Santander.
“It was an honor to be called to do that. I felt like I was honoring him and the first responders we have,” she says.
It is evident from Carol Anne’s playing that she takes great joy in her musical role. As she plays, the emotions seem to echo from the heavens above.
Carol Anne Taylor at the Carillon, in harmony with the word below.
“If I can help the bells to sing, then it helps others and hopefully I can make their day better,” she says.
The carillon is played most weekdays at 5:00 p.m. and on Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. between masses.
Tours are available Sundays at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., and by appointment.