Published on February 10, 2016 by Michael Huebner  
Joe Hopkins

Eight friends, to be exact — all members of the music faculty of Samford’s School of the Arts — will join him in Brock Recital Hall for the 7:30 p.m. event. Included will be the premier of a new work by faculty member Joel Davis.

Featured on the program is a recently completed composition by Joel Davis and a well-known work by Johannes Brahms. 

“I perform a solo voice recital at Samford each year, but this year, I decided to focus on chamber works that include some of my talented colleagues,” Hopkins said. “The two works presented will feature a faculty voice quartet and piano duo to perform the “Liebeslieder Walzer” and an original composition by composition professor Joel Davis.” 

An operatic baritone, Hopkins has performed with the Dallas Lyric Opera and Moscow State Philharmonic, and given recitals in London, Paris and on Chinese National Radio. 

Davis graduated with honors from Samford before earning a master's and doctorate from Claremont Graduate University. His compositions have been performed in Carnegie Hall in New York and the Palais Ferstel in Vienna. 

He began writing “Songs of Liberty” after a 2013 collaboration with Hopkins and completed it in 2016. 

“The dean was seeking new music for a benefit concert on behalf of the British Red Cross Society at Harlaxton Manor in England,” wrote Davis of the work’s genesis. “In light of the recent Civil Rights anniversaries across local, state and national levels, he encouraged me to search for texts that celebrate the universal ideas of liberty and freedom through the ages.” 

Spanning six centuries, those texts range from “Freedom is a Noble Thing,” written by 14th-century  Scottish poet John Barbour, to “Bury Me in a Free Land” by African-American abolitionist and author Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, who died in 1911. 

Accompanying Hopkins will be Kathryn Fouse and Michael Patilla in the “uncommon pairing of piano and classical guitar,” according to Davis. “The music quotes hymns, spirituals and folk songs, with the piano using extended techniques such as plucking, tapping and strumming the strings.” 

Brahms’ waltzes were composed for vocal quartet and two pianos. In addition to Hopkins, performers will be soprano Sharon Lawhon, mezzo-soprano Kristin Kenning, tenor Randall Richardson, and pianists Barbara Shinn and Ronald Shinn. 

The waltzes are patterned after music by Franz Schubert and pay tribute to Johann Strauss, the “Waltz King,” wrote Hopkins in the concert’s notes. “The breadth of waltz style, emotional range and light-hearted nature of the Walzer have made these works a favorite of intimate concerts for almost 150 years.”

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.