Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2008-09-19

When Samford University bass-baritone G. William Bugg and pianist Kathryn Fouse perform in Carnegie Hall on Oct. 2, the program will include a new work by Samford alumnus Joel Scott Davis.

Davis, a 2005 Samford graduate who is now a master's /doctorate of musical arts degree student in composition at Claremont Graduate University in California, wrote "Songs About God" specifically for the Carnegie recital.

Bugg and Fouse will preview the Carnegie performance in Samford's Brock Recital Hall Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 7:30 p.m.

While Bugg and Fouse have each performed before in Carnegie Hall, it will be the first time that the young composer has had a work heard in the celebrated New York City venue.

"I am excited and honored," Davis said of having the piece performed in Carnegie, and at being asked by the Samford School of the Arts faculty members to contribute to the program.

When the musicians approached Davis about composing a piece with a southern theme for their Big Apple recital, his search of literature led to a 1919 copy of poetry by John Crowe Ransom.

The work by the Tennessee poet made an immediate impression on Davis, who found Ransom's poetry feisty and thought-provoking.

"It showed his doubts and his struggle with his faith. I found it fascinating," said Davis, who at about the same time was beginning to feel "a little homesick" for his own southern roots.

He shared the poems with Bugg and Fouse, who helped select the four that are part of the completed work. "Songs About God" is Davis' fifth commissioned composition. His first commissioned piece was for a friend's wedding while a Samford undergraduate student.

Davis' many compositions also include "Nocturne for Lauren Ansley," a piece that Fouse performed in recital at Samford in February. The work had been written as an engagement present for his then-fiance, Lauren Ansley Heerssen, also a 2005 Samford graduate.

The couple, now married, will attend the Carnegie Hall recital, as will family members and his childhood piano teacher from Marietta, Ga.

The Bugg/Fouse performances in Birmingham and New York will also include Paul D. Szpyrka's powerful and moving "Portraits from Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus" as well as works by Ned Rorem, H. Leslie Adams, Frederic Rzewski and others.

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.