News

Game of Thrones tribute strikes a chord


17 June 2014

University Organist and Carillonist Amy Johansen. Image: David Lawrie

She may not be a Game of Thrones fan, but Amy Johansen's rendition of the show's theme song on the University's carillon caused a social media sensation this week.

The University Organist and Carillonist's live performance accompanied aerial footage of our Quadrangle 'castle' in a video inspired by the show's opening credits, receiving more than 21,000 views on YouTube in 24 hours and attracting local and international media attention.

The video's release coincided with the much-anticipated season finale earlier this week, providing some light relief for students as exam time looms.

"Game of Thrones isn't really my type of thing, but one of our carillonists, Isaac Wong, is a super fan - he loves carillon and loves the show - so last year he decided to combine the two and ended up putting the recording on YouTube. I guess now it's turned into an annual event!" says Amy, who joined the University in 1998.

"If you're going to play an instrument that's really out there in the public like the carillon, it's great to play something that your audience recognises and that really resonates with them."

For those who haven't had the chance to visit the carillon in the Quadrangle's Clocktower on Camperdown Campus - one of only two carillons in Australia - the instrument consists of pedals for the feet and large piano-like wooden keys (called batons) that are attached to a bells in the tower above.

Amy and her team of carillonists perform at weekly recitals and at more than 60 graduation ceremonies per year, but lately she's noticed that interesting song requests are on the rise.

"I've played so many different things recently, such as Lady Gaga and [Pharrell Williams'] 'Happy', and for a while there was a lot of One Direction," she says. "I think that's one of the best things about playing the carillon and the organ - that students and staff can make requests, that they can feel like it's their instrument and we can personalise the experience for them.

"It's such a fun instrument, and my team are always on the lookout for promising musicians with a background in piano who might be interested in playing."

Amy encourages students and staff to come along to the free carillon recitals at 2pm every Sunday, where they play "everything from baroque music to the latest pop hits and original carillon music". You can also visit the clavier room when the carillon is played from 1 to 2pm on Tuesdays during semester. Remember to request a song for Amy and the team to play.

Watch our Games of Thrones video on YouTube and read media coverage in the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph.