Published on January 8, 2018 by Ashley Smith  
opera competition

Samford University students won first place in the recent National Opera Association Collegiate Opera Scenes Competition in the Musical Theatre Division with a scene from On the Town.  Musical theatre students Reed Hillis and Shelby Terrell played Chip and Hildy in the famous taxi cab duet.  

“They brought down the house!” according to Kristin Kenning, Samford Opera director.  

Hillis is a senior musical theatre major from Tyler, Texas, and Terrell is a senior musical theatre major from Nashville, Tennessee. 

Additionally, Samford was a national finalist in the Opera Division I of the competition with a scene from Hansel and Gretel.  Mary Kathryn Evans, Morganne Best and Anna Willis “gave an incredible performance and represented the amazing talent of our students,” Kenning said.  

Evans is a junior voice major from Charlotte, North Carolina, Best is a senior musical theatre major from Franklin, Tennessee, and Willis is a senior voice major from Birmingham. 

John Robertson, lecturer and collaborative pianist in Samford’s School of the Arts, played the piano for both scenes. A total of 19 students have competed at the national level over the past five years, and this was the first year Samford had been invited to compete with two scenes at the competition, Kenning added. 

Kenning said she especially wanted to thank the friends of the School of the Arts for helping make this competition a reality.  “Without this support, we couldn't have gotten all five of the students there.  It was a meaningful experience for all of them.” 

Samford Opera will return to Birmingham to share opera scenes with local schools during January and will perform their Opera Workshop April 13-14.    

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.