Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2008-04-25

Samford University will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its Rushton Memorial Carillon with concerts by guest carillonneur Richard Watson and carillonneur-in-residence Stephen Brooks Knight.

Watson, carillonneur at Emery Memorial Carillon, Mariemont, Ohio, will play at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, May 5.

Knight will give concerts at 4:30 p.m. on May 7 and at 6:45 p.m. on May 8.

The public is invited to enjoy the music of the 60-bell carillon from Ben Brown Plaza, located adjacent to the Samford Library and belltower.

Watson played the dedicatory recital on the carillon when it was installed at Samford in 1968. He soon joined the Samford faculty as lecturer in music and university carillonneur, serving until 1973.

The then 49-bell carillon was located atop Samford's Reid Chapel. With the addition of 11 bells in 1979, the carillon was re-located to the Samford Library tower and dedicated as the Rushton Memorial Carillon in honor of the family of the late insurance executive Col. William J. Rushton.

It was the first completely chromatic, five-octave carillon in the U.S. The carillon is also unique because of the meaningful inscriptions that are cast on each bell. The inscriptions are from poems about bells, verses from the Psalms, and Latin phrases that appear on bells cast in Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Samford bells were cast in Holland by the famous Schulmerich-Eijsbouts bellfoundry.

At the May 5 concert, Watson will play a variety of music for carillon, reprising several pieces from his 1968 program.

Knight, Samford carillonneur since 1974, performs a regular schedule of concerts on the carillon. He holds a bachelor's degree in music from the University of Alabama and a master's in music from the University of Michigan. He studied at the Diploma de la Schola Cantorum in Paris, France, and holds a Final Diploma with Great Distinction from the Royal Carillon School in Belgium, where he won a first prize for his composition, Pasacaglia Grave. He is the first blind American to win the prize.

His concerts in celebration of the carillon's 40th anniversary will feature pieces from classic literature for carillon.

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.