Inaugural gala for Hobson Performance Center a celebration of old and new

The inaugural gala of the Hobson Performance Center on Thursday night was a celebration of both the past and the present — of friends old and new — at Campbell University.

More than 900 people packed the new auditorium, renovated this year to add state-of-the-art acoustics, a larger stage and sharper aesthetics to the nearly 100-year-old D. Rich Building at the heart of Campbell’s main campus. They were treated to a two-hour program from the Sandhills Wind Ensemble and Campbell University Wind Symphony, led by music director Dwayne Wilson and special guest Jack Stamp, who wove in tales of his experiences and friendships during his time at Campbell in the 1980s before going on to become an internationally renowned conductor and composer.

Stamp, on campus for the first time in nearly 30 years, said he was moved by the reception he received from old friends and former students. 

“What I’ve gotten a chance to do is rediscover the chunk in my heart that has been here for the last 30 years, and it has been incredible,” Stamp said. “Campbell has always been about its students and several of my students from the 80s are here tonight. I’m so proud of that and of who they’ve become.”

The setlist featured several original works by Stamp, one based on his experience in Buies Creek and others tied to well-known hymnals. The theme of the night, however, was honoring the late Anne A. Hobson, wife of David Hobson of Dunn who made the much-needed renovations possible through the creation of the David C. Hobson Christian Music Gift Fund. Stamp honored her memory early in the set with “Held Still in Quick of Grace,” an original composition about dealing with loss and grief. The choral prelude “Be Thou My Vision” included a trumpet soloist performing with David Hobson’s old trumpet. And the penultimate piece from the Sandhills Wind Symphony was Stamp’s composition of the Hobsons’ favorite hymn, “The Holy City” — music the two would play during their daily morning devotionals in high school and music that would remain important throughout their 37 years of marriage until Anne’s death in 2012. 

David Hobson’s longtime friend and business partner David Brown spoke on behalf of the Hobsons Thursday night, calling the gala a “very special and emotional evening” for their family and friends. 

“David and Anne very much wanted to get involved in a project that would provide the opportunity for the enjoyment and advancement of music, particularly Christian music,” Brown said. “Dave and I often marvel at how swiftly, how smoothly and how efficiently this project came to fruition. I know that Anne is smiling down on us tonight.”

The Hobson Performance Center is Campbell’s largest auditorium with a seating capacity of 948 — nearly all of the seats were filled Thursday night. In addition to the acoustic and aesthetic improvements in the room, the balcony was renovated to provide better views of the stage.