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Thomas Hampson Elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Now celebrating its 230th anniversary, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has elected baritone Thomas Hampson as one of its new members. A center for independent policy research, the Academy is among the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honorary societies, and Hampson is one of 229 leaders in the arts, humanities, sciences, business, and public affairs to be awarded membership this year. The new 2010 members will be inducted at a ceremony on October 9, at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“To be included amongst such prominent cultural and civic leaders for membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences fills me with enormous pride and gratitude,” says Thomas Hampson. “The study and celebration of cultural and intellectual identity, whether in the US or abroad, has always been extremely important to me as a human being and as an artist. I share this honor in spirit with all the individuals who have helped shape and continue to shape our society, whether in the arts, business, public affairs or the various academic disciplines. Promoting cross-disciplinary intellectual dialogue has never been more important than today and is crucial for how we continue to develop this country and the world.”

Thomas Hampson is in excellent company: In the arts and humanities, other new members include theologian Harvey Cox, Jr.; Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Daniel Howe; Suzanne Farrell, former New York City Ballet principal dancer and founder of her own ballet company at the Kennedy Center; actors John Lithgow and Denzel Washington; director Francis Ford Coppola; and jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins. The new members in the 2010 class include winners of the Nobel, Pulitzer, and Shaw Prizes; MacArthur and Guggenheim fellows; and Grammy, Tony, and Oscar Award winners. Since its founding in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other scholar-patriots, the Academy has elected intellectual leaders from each generation, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Daniel Webster, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill. The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 winners of the Pulitzer Prize.

Hampson’s Enchanted April and Remaining Spring Performances

In an interview with Olivia Giovetti for Time Out New York’s music blog, “The Volume,” Hampson joked about his jam-packed April schedule: “It’s a heck of a month. I’m kind of A to Z. Just put the quarter in me! It’s a fun month. It’s a little bit of champagne, a little bit of steak, a whole lot of work.” (The complete interview is available here:

Among the highlights of Hampson’s spring were performances in La traviata at the Metropolitan Opera, and multiple events that were part of his year-long appointment as the first Mary and James G. Wallach Artist-in-Residence of the New York Philharmonic. These events included a recital at Alice Tully Hall, the world-premiere performances of Matthias Pintscher’s Songs from Solomon’s Garden as part of the CONTACT! concert series, commissioned by the orchestra, written expressly for Hampson and conducted by Philharmonic music director Alan Gilbert, and Hampson’s third and final Insights Series event: “Listening to Thought: A Guide to German Romanticism.” While in New York, he gave a Manhattan School of Music Global Conservatory master class on Gustav Mahler’s song cycles, which was streamed live on line and via iPhone through a special application. He paid tribute to beloved mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade at the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s 75th anniversary luncheon, and headlined Manhattan School of Music’s 2010 Concert Gala, celebrating legendary mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne.

Reviewing Hampson’s recent concert with the New York Philharmonic’s CONTACT! series at Symphony Space, Vivien Schweitzer reported for the New York Times that the sold-out event “had an air of excitement and a refreshing informality,” and that Hampson’s performance of the PIntscher work was “sensitively sung.” Christian Carey observed on the Sequenza21 new music blog, “Hampson sang the challenging, chromatic, and wide-ranging part with commitment, subtlety, and musicality. At a stage in his career when he certainly needn’t take on learning new works, Hampson’s willingness to participate in CONTACT! so enthusiastically is admirable.”’s Stephen Smoliar  wrote an entertaining and illuminating report on Hampson’s master class, which he watched remotely from California.  The complete review can be read here:

New York Daily News writer Howard Kissel was on hand for the Met Guild’s recent tribute to Frederica von Stade at the Waldorf Astoria, and wrote: “Hampson sang three selections, including ‘Voi che sapete,’ from Le nozze di Figaro, one of Flicka’s specialties. It is, of course, something men never sing, despite the fact the character singing it is a male teenager. It was a witty choice, and Hampson made his voice soft and touching to bring it off. He also sang Mahler’s haunting ‘An die Schönheit’ movingly.’” 

After the smoke (volcano-induced and otherwise) of a very busy April cleared, Hampson headed to Europe, where he is currently starring in Zurich Opera’s production of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin (May 2 to 14).  He finishes off the spring with performances at the Schumannfest in Düsseldorf, Germany (May 28), a “Song of America” recital in Dublin, Ireland (May 30), a recital in Berlin, Germany (June 1), a concert featuring Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder in Saint Petersburg with Maestro Yuri Temirkanov, (June 4), and an opera gala at the Nationaltheater in Mannheim, Germany (June 20).


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© 21C Media Group, May 2010

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