During a recital at the Holland Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, internationally acclaimed baritone Thomas Hampson will give listeners a structured overview of the American song.
He will talk about how the song has progressed since the 1700s until the present, touching on everything from Psalms settings to African-American spirituals.
And he will demonstrate.
The program has all the makings of a music history class. But Hampson, a lifelong champion of the American song, says it most definitely is not. There won’t be any preaching, soapboxes or finger-wagging.
“You’re not coming to this concert to be lectured at or told what to think,” Hampson said from New York City, where he is performing at the Metropolitan Opera.
Rather, the concerts on the “Song of America Tour,” which began in November, offer gentle exposure to music that has made America what it is today.
“Song in America is such a huge subject, and a wonderful reflection of our culture,” Hampson said. “Our stories are to be found in our songs.”
The “Song of America Tour” grew out of Hampson’s many hours in the archives at the Library of Congress. Poring over scores by composers such as George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Aaron Copland and others, Hampson became increasingly aware of the treasure that was in the library. So he decided – along with Librarian of Congress James H. Billington – that more people should know about it.
At every stop, Hampson has performed recitals – not classes – that take listeners through a series of songs by American poets and composers. Along with the performance, the Library of Congress offers displays of rare objects.
During Hampson’s performance in Omaha, holograph manuscripts of works such as Louis Armstrong’s “Gully Low Blues” and Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” will be exhibited in the Holland Center’s lobby.
“After this experience, (audience members) will hopefully feel better about themselves,” Hampson said, “and clearer about how proud we can all be about what we call this American experience.”
Thomas Hampson will fill in as a guest host for Terrance McKnight on WQXR this Thursday, November 5, beginning at 7 pm ET. During this hour, Thomas will celebrate the song repertoire, featuring works by Schubert, Mahler, Ives, and many others. Tune in and learn more about Hampson’s guest host hour via WQXR.
PENTATONE continues its American Opera Series with Houston Grand Opera’s world premiere recording of Tarik O’Regan’s The Phoenix (2019), an opera on the life of Lorenzo da Ponte, Mozart’s favorite librettist. Da Ponte (1749-1838) was an adventurer, who not only travelled the world, but in a way also through time, living across what seem to be impossible moments of history that never should have aligned in somebody’s life.
The documentary by C Major Entertainment “The Animated Story of Jenny Lind”, in which Thomas Hampson is the narrator, has won this year’s Golden Prague Fesitval’s Performing Arts Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious and acclaimed Performing Arts festival for TV and film, with opera, dance, concerts and documentaries from all over the world. It is also on the Shortlist of potential winners of the Prix Italia.
Thomas Hampson makes his Global Concert Hall debut next month, performing with the Orchester Wiener Akademie under the baton of its founder and musical director Martin Haselböck. The concert, filmed at the Brucknerhouse Linz in August 2020, will be streamed on IDAGIO’s Global Concert Hall on Thursday, October 15, beginning at 8 pm Berlin / 2 pm New York. The concert will be available to stream through October 22.
Thomas Hampson returns to the stage this month, with a concert at the Stiftskirche Millstatt, and two performances at the Salzkammergut Classic Festival. Beginning on August 2 in Millstatt, Hampson will perform lieder by Gustav Mahler and Johannes Brahms with pianist Christian Koch, and the Carinthia Chor Millstatt will sing Carinthian songs under the direction of Bernhard Zlanabitnig.
For the first time ever, audiences around the world will have a special opportunity to watch the Canadian Opera Company’s 2018 world premiere production of Hadrian, in full, online. On Monday, August 10 at 6:30 p.m. ET, in partnership with Montréal Pride Festival, the COC is hosting a free, one-night-only digital stream of the modern grand opera. The Hadrian Watch Party helps kick off one week of virtual Pride events and will feature a live Q&A session with both the composer and celebrated singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright and librettist Daniel MacIvor, a giant in Canadian theatre.
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.