Press Room

Thomas Hampson resumes “Song of America” project

On July 9,
2009 Thomas Hampson resumes the enthusiastically acclaimed “Song of America”
project he developed with the Library of Congress and introduced in the 2005-06
season.  This season’s national
celebration additionally commemorates the 250th anniversary of what is
recognized to be the first song written by an “American” (“My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free”, composed in
1759 by Philadelphian Francis Hopkinson). Drawing on the unparalleled
collection of American songs housed at the Library of Congress, Hampson will
present a unique series of recitals, educational activities, exhibitions, recordings,
cybercasts and interactive online resources. Some recital venues will have lobby
exhibitions of facsimiles from music archives of the Library, and joint efforts
with local academic and cultural partners are planned to give a wide range of
listeners access to America’s history as told through its rich array of song.  A dedicated web site that will develop into
a large-scale database of American composers, poets/writers, their songs,
texts, and links to deeper resources will be launched in conjunction with the
tour dates.

first two “Song of America” recitals this summer are in the heartland of
Minnesota and Wisconsin (Winona, MN on July 9 and Williams Bay, WI on July 12),
and then he continues to two festivals: Ravinia (July 16) and Tanglewood (July
22).  Other stops on his recital
itinerary are San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Santa Barbara, Boulder,
Princeton and Atlanta. In separate stand-alone concerts at Tanglewood and the
Grand Teton Music Festival, Hampson will perform orchestral songs by Virgil
Thomson, Samuel Barber and John Adams that augment the “Song of America” tour
without being directly linked to it.

Hampson comments: 

“The ‘Song of America’ project
has become a thrilling dream come true for me: criss-crossing our country
singing the songs born of our life experiences as Americans in the language of
our hearts and minds. These songs – our songs – say everything about the
culture we call American. And when we sing our own songs, when we see through
the eyes of our poets and hear with the ears of our composers the diary of our
land, those who hear us will experience the best of what freedom of thought and
purpose can achieve in the creation of great art.  We need these songs in
our cultural landscape.”

and public reaction to Hampson’s first “Song of America” tour in 2005-06 was
extremely enthusiastic and included an appearance on ABC-TV’s Good Morning
.  The New York Times wrote about his performance at
Carnegie Hall. 

“Mr. Hampson conveys the idea of an
oral tradition that it is his mission to pass on, with the closed-eyed
intensity of a blind poet when he is singing, and the zeal of an evangelist
when he is addressing the audience about its cultural heritage.” 

The Philadelphia Inquirer called Hampson’s concert at the
Kimmel Center “a thoroughly exceptional recital,” noting, “No recitalist is
more charming. Hampson singing in his native language almost guarantees an
extra zing. … The concert was a rare chance to hear his keen intelligence
articulated at close range.”

Last year Hampson was appointed special advisor to the
Library of Congress for his work in American song.  He is especially interested in promulgating the ways
American song continues to communicate the story of the country – its history
and its spiritual inner life – through texts wedded to music. 

It is
significant that Hampson’s “Song of America” project also acknowledges the
250th anniversary of the first song composed in America, by Francis Hopkinson, one of the first American
composers.  He wrote “My Days
Have Been So Wondrous Free” in 1759; it was published in 1788 in a
collection of songs dedicated to George Washington, a friend of the patriot author.
 Hopkinson, also a signer of the
Declaration of Independence, as well as a lawyer, poet, inventor, painter, and
judge, was not a dilettante, but rather a highly educated and cultivated man
typical of the 18th century’s Age of Enlightenment.

Hampson was raised in Washington state. 
One of the most celebrated singers on the stage today, he has recorded
dozens of America’s songs, presented a PBS special, and given master classes on
American song (as he will on the coming tour) – all the while maintaining his
position as a preeminent singer of opera and art songs in many languages, and
as an expert on and editor of Gustav Mahler’s songs in particular.  He was educated in the U.S. before
moving to Europe to broaden his singing career, and has recently taken up
residence in his home country once again. In the 2009-10 season, Hampson will
be the New York Philharmonic’s first Artist in Residence. During the season, Alan
Gilbert’s first as Music Director, Hampson will be guest soloist in three
programs, tour with the orchestra to six European cities, and give a recital in
Alice Tully Hall. He will also give master classes at the Juilliard School, and
deliver three lectures entitled “Listening to Thought” in the orchestra’s Insight series.

acclaim for Hampson’s “Song of America” tour in 2005-06 and complete tour dates
for the 2009-10 tour follow. 

acclaim for Hampson’s inaugural “Song of America” tour in 2005-06

country doesn’t just undervalue its artists. In the case of the vast American
concert-song literature, hardly any attention is paid at all. … Hampson
delivered one gem after another by composers such as Charles Griffes, William
McDowell, Virgil Thomson (the famous ‘Tiger! Tiger!’), Samuel Barber, Charles
Ives … and Henry T. Burleigh.”

Star Tribune

Thomas Hampson is one of the world’s great baritones, he’s so generous with his
voice and time that you can take him for granted. If you miss this Philadelphia
concert, you’ll catch the next. … But those who missed this one should be


was…a font of emotion, smooth and supple in delivery, pure in tone. It was
clear that he’s more than America’s best baritone: Right now, he’s one of the
world’s greatest singers in any style.”


narrative powers were perhaps the chief glory of the evening…There are very few
areas of the opera and concert repertory that this industrious singer isn’t
willing to investigate, but singing songs seems to be the one thing he loves to
do most of all. Besides, how many other singers today could fill Carnegie Hall
with a program exclusively devoted to a celebration of American song?”


“Mr. Hampson’s
baritone, all oiled walnut, is one of the loveliest around, and he can croon
exquisitely. The audience ate him up.”

Morning News

“Tall, charismatic
and as square-jawed as the Marlboro man, Thomas Hampson is in many ways an
ideal representative of American song. [Hampson] is a recitalist and opera star
of international renown, and his recital Saturday of more than two dozen
American songs showed off the full range of his vocal and histrionic skills.”

City Star

“When Hampson’s voice reached the California Theatre’s beautifully
restored rafters, as it did in ‘Shenandoah,’ the effect was electrifying. …
Hampson indulged in four curtain calls, ranging from Jerome Kern’s ‘All the
Things You Are’ to the Mozart aria ‘Deh vieni alla finestra’ – all to the
audience’s delight.”

Jose Mercury-News

Hampson: “Song of America” recital tour 2009-10 and related engagements:

July 9


Beethoven Festival

“Song of
America” recital; Craig Rutenberg

July 12

Bay, WI – Music at the Lake

“Song of
America” recital; Craig Rutenberg

July 16

Park, IL – Ravinia Festival

250 Years
of American Song

“Song of
America” recital; Craig Rutenberg

July 22

Lenox, MA
– Tanglewood Festival

“Song of
America” recital; Craig Rutenberg

July 26

Lenox, MA
– Tanglewood Festival

Songs by
Virgil Thomson and Samuel Barber

Symphony / David Robertson

Aug 7
& 8

Hole, WY – Grand Teton Music Festival

Adams: The Wound-Dresser

Orchestra / Donald Runnicles

Sep 30

Francisco, CA – Herbst Theater

“Song of
America” recital; Wolfram Rieger

Oct 3

Angeles, CA – Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

“Song of
America” and German Lieder recital

Oct 6

OR – Newmark Theater

“Song of
America” recital

Oct 9

Barbara, CA – UCSB Arts and Lectures

“Song of
America” recital; Wolfram Rieger

Oct 11

CO – Macky Auditorium

“Song of
America” recital; Wolfram Rieger

Oct 21
Richmond – University of Richmond, Modlin Center for the Arts
“Song of America” recital

Nov 12

PA – American Musicological Society Conference

“Song of
America” recital; Wolfram Rieger

Nov 17

NJ – McCarter Theatre Center

“Song of
America” recital; Wolfram Rieger

Dec 31

New York,

New Year’s Eve Concert

Copland & Broadway selections

New York Philharmonic / Alan

Jan 14-16, 2010

New York,

Adams: The Wound-Dresser

New York Philharmonic/ Alan Gilbert

Feb 19, 2010

Atlanta, GA – Emory University

“Song of America” recital

#          #          #

21C Media Group, June 2009

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