by Leah Jones, Features Editor

The chimes at the Thomas Jefferson Library were recently changed, but those are not the only tunes that will change at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Chancellor Tom George said, “We’re looking at trying to change the hold music when you’re on the phone … [When] someone calls here and you put them on hold. We’ve got great stuff, but it’s been the same stuff.”

Dr. Gary Brandes, the incoming chair of the Department of Music, echoed what Chancellor George said, saying that the hold music at UMSL has been the same for six to seven years.

According to Chancellor George, Brandes, and Dr. James Richards, the dean of Fine Arts and Performing Arts, the new hold music will feature UMSL’s own musicians. “The repertoire for the most part is our faculty and students from the music department” Chancellor George said. “I think it’s better to showcase our own people.”

Brandes also said that it was a great opportunity for the faculty and students of the Music Department. He said that they were “excited that we can feature our student ensembles as well. I think that’s very positive.”

Richards also said, “We have some recordings, some nice recordings of our various ensembles, the band orchestra core. I think we’re going to try to incorporate them on with the individual faculty. Maybe a half a dozen. And we’ll have somebody with a good announcing voice just like before say ‘This is the symphony of so and so, music faculty at UMSL,’ or ‘This is the university concert band performing,’ and it will just go on as long as somebody is sitting on hold.”

While they did not say who they hoped would do the voice-over for the new hold music, the chancellor said that John Hilton did the voice-over work for the current hold music. Hilton is the former dean of Fine Arts and Communications.

Chancellor George said they would like at least five to six pieces to cycle through for the new hold music. Brandes said that there are several new recordings by UMSL musicians which he would like to feature in this cycle. He said that the Arianna String Quartet will be coming out with a new CD soon, and that he would like to include some pieces from that.

He also cited the work of Dr. Barbara Harbach. Harbach, who is married to the chancellor, is a Curators’ Professor of Music, Music Composition, and Music History at UMSL. She also plays both the organ and harpsichord. In addition to Harbach and the Arianna String Quartet, Brandes referred to the work of Dr. James Henry, who conducts the Vocal Point, an a cappella ensemble that performs in a variety of styles.

Brandes also mentioned possibly using some of the work from his own wind ensemble from this past year, as well as music from the Jim Widner Big Band.

Despite the fact that there are so many talented musicians with great recordings to choose from for the hold music, Brandes said that it could take some time to get all of the pieces together. However, he hopes that the new hold music will be ready by either September or October.

For more information on the UMSL musicians listed above, visit the UMSL Music Department’s website at