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Thomas Hampson Sings World Premiere of New Song Cycle by Michael Daugherty to Commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s Bicentennial

Thomas Hampson, the internationally acclaimed baritone and fervent
advocate of American music, celebrates the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln with
a concert on February 28 in his hometown of Spokane, Washington, performing the
world premiere of Michael Daugherty’s Letters from Lincoln.  The work is a song-cycle based on
American poems, and was especially commissioned for the occasion by the Spokane
Symphony.  The performance will be
repeated on March 1, and recorded by Koch Classics for release on CD.  These concerts are the culmination of a
five-week, city-wide Lincoln Festival sanctioned by the Abraham Lincoln
Bicentennial Commission, one which emphasizes the fact that President Lincoln’s
Homestead Act of 1865 helped open up the West.

While both singer and composer note that this piece
is a departure from Daugherty’s past work, both are pleased with the
outcome.  According to Thomas

dialogue is beautiful in Daugherty’s setting – it’s very natural, not
contrived.  The musical language
takes us deeper into the metaphor of what the words stand for.  Michael has a wonderful way of setting
the English language.”

Hampson grew up in Spokane
and began his musical education there, before relocating to Europe in the
1980s.  He recently moved back to
the United States and has just appeared in his third Metropolitan Opera production
of the season, performing the title role of Tchaikovsky’s Romantic,
Pushkin-based tragedy Eugene Onegin.  When he first portrayed the haughty
aristocrat at the Met in 2001, the New York Times said, “Thomas Hampson is moving from strength to
strength these days; his Onegin was truly fine.”  This season, opposite soprano Karita Mattila, who was
singing her first Met Tatiana, the Times reported thatHampson
“subtly conveyed the hauteur of the entitled, clueless hero”:

“Mr. Hampson captured Onegin’s
patronizing decorum in advising Tatiana to be more cautious about confiding
herself to men who may not be so discreet. … In the final scene, years later,
when Onegin re-encounters Tatiana, now married, … Mr. Hampson was the
embodiment of a young man who realizes too late what a haughty fool he was to
have dismissed Tatiana’s feelings as some schoolgirl crush, [and] fill[ed] the
phrases with desperation.”

The Financial Times was similarly impressed:

“Tall, dashing and intelligent
nearly to a fault, [Hampson] was equally persuasive expressing Onegin’s narcissistic
swagger and traumatic desperation … . [His voice] rang with incisive fervor and
poised lyricism.”

Thomas Hampson is a renowned
recitalist and scholar, and established the Hampsong Foundation to promote to
the art of song and the song recital. 
He was recently named next season’s Artist-in-Residence of the New York
Philharmonic – the first under Alan Gilbert, the Philharmonic’s next Music
Director.  While a student at Eastern
Washington University in Spokane, Hampson made his debut with the Spokane
Symphony at the Fox Theater, where the performances of Michael Daugherty’s Letters
from Lincoln
take place.  Hampson continues
to be instrumental in the restoration of the Fox Theater and presented a
benefit concert as part of the opening of the newly-restored theater as Martin
Woldson Theater at The Fox, in December 2007.

Feb 28; Mar 1:
Spokane, WA

Martin Woldson Theater
at The Fox

Michael Daugherty: Letters
from Lincoln
(World Premiere)

Spokane Symphony

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February 16, 2009

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