Despite no graduation ceremonies, DU bells ring for the Class of 2020

Posted at 4:19 PM, May 14, 2020

DENVER — This time of year would usually be graduation season, meaning the University of Denver campus would be busy hosting high school and college ceremonies. This year those have all been canceled, but the staple song of those special occasions is still ringing through the air.

“I always play Pomp and Circumstance as the seniors come out,” musician Carol Jickling Lens said, describing how she usually handles graduations and commencements.

Jickling Lens plays the carillon, the musical instrument that rings the 65 bells in the bell tower on campus.

“Usually there are at least two ceremonies a day here for almost a month straight, from high schools to DU’s graduation ceremonies,” she said, adding that none of those will be taking place as usual due to COVID-19.

She decided that the lack of graduates walking across a stage wouldn’t stop her from honoring them.

“When I looked at my calendar and said, ‘OK, I would be playing for three high school graduations today,’ I’ve come up and played Pomp and Circumstance,” she said.

On Thursday, she ascended the stairs of the Williams Tower to play the classic song once again. Multiple times a week it echoes throughout campus and the surrounding neighborhoods.

“It makes me feel like I’m doing something and I keep hoping if there happens to be a senior walking by they might hear it,” she explained.

Lens said she will play other songs on occasion to thank first responders, or to respond to a major event. She says "Pomp and Circumstance" is her small tribute to the Class of 2020.

“I figure any way I can be part of the community support system, I'd like to do it.” she said.

On May 21, Lens will be part of a worldwide collaboration of carillonneurs who will each be playing a song called "Healing Bells," specifically written about the coronavirus pandemic. That performance will happen at noon.