TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WIAT) — A tour guide for the University of Alabama walked by Denny Chimes with a group of prospective students on the Friday before homecoming. She paused in front of the chime’s open door.
“Oh wow!” She exclaimed within earshot. “I’ve never seen that before.”
Inside, stooped over an organ, was a 24 year-old student, playing a song from the movie Harry Potter. The chimes of bells sent the notes floating out across campus.
What many people don’t realize–is that there IS a person inside of Denny Chimes, playing each time you hear the Alma mater–or more recently, the theme from Frozen.
His name is Tyler Canonico, a DMA candidate in organ performance. He told CBS 42 that he feels as thought playing the organ was his calling. He’s played for half of his life, now.
Canonico had go through an audition process before he got the keys to the nearly 90 year-old bell tower. Now, he is the only person on campus who regularly plays the chimes. He expects to do it until he is no longer a student.
You can typically hear Canonico for memorials and other special events — but he also plays a recital, three hours before every Alabama home game. He told CBS 42 that many of the former chimes musicians kept the door closed, leading many fans to never really know how the music from the chimes was produced.
“They don’t really know what it is,” he laughed, “and I mean, I’ve tried on game day to open the door and let people in, so that they can see what we’re doing. It’s incredible the stories that I’ve heard. [For example] we were here 68 years ago, and in my 68 years, I’ve never seen the door to Denny Chimes open!”
Some fans never noticed the door — or knew that it could open. Canonico said many people confessed they thought the bells were a recording. He said that he wants to keep an open door policy with the iconic Tuscaloosa landmark, so that more people can interact with it.
Some of Tyler’s favorite songs that you might here on campus include hymns, the school’s Alma mater, and movie themes. These days, he often plays “Let it Go” from Frozen or “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter.