Hampson honored by Society for American Music

Hampsong will receive honor March 1 in Pittsburgh at special plenary session on opening day of organization’s annual conference

The internationally-celebrated American baritone Thomas Hampson will be awarded an honorary membership by the Society for American Music in Pittsburgh on Thursday, March 1, 2007, the opening day of its annual conference.

The Society for American Music presents an honorary membership each year to a well-known, prominent figure who has made important contributions to the field of American music. Thomas Hampson was selected in recognition of his many recordings of American music, the recent “Song of America Tour” for the Library of Congress, and the work he does through his Hampsong foundation. Hampson’s CD, American Dreamer: Songs of Stephen Foster, was completed with scholarly assistance from the Center for American Music at the University of Pittsburgh, which houses the Stephen Foster Collection and is the home of the Society for American Music.

Michael Broyles, President of the Society for American Music, comments:

Thomas Hampson has had a major impact on the world of music, and his involvement with American music has been extraordinary. He is an exceptional talent, and we are deeply grateful for his interest and his many contributions to American music. I personally treasure his Stephen Foster CD as one of the outstanding recordings of the past ten years.

Thomas Hampson responds:

It’s quite an honor to have my work, my performances and my passion for American poets and composers recognized by such a prestigious organization as the Society for American Music. Knowing as I do the great and important musicological tradition of the organization, and its place in the musical life of our country, this award of honorary membership is particularly gratifying.

Deane Root, Director of the Center for American Music at the University of Pittsburgh, adds:

Thomas Hampson is a champion for American music. Even before he created the first all-Foster CD in 1992, his recordings of American songs by composers as diverse as Cadman, Burleigh, Damrosch, and Still introduced stirring voices from our national heritage to contemporary audiences. It is particularly appropriate that Hampson’s contributions will be celebrated in Pittsburgh, where he inaugurated and supported the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for American Music. Noted as a sensitive interpreter of song, Thomas Hampson has built his understanding of the music through collaboration with scholars on historical research, and has partnered with libraries to make their resources available to other performers and students. He is not only America’s premiere baritone; he is also a generous contributor and visionary supporter of efforts to bring America’s musical legacy to life for new generations.

Thomas Hampson will be on hand on Thursday, March 1 to accept the honor at a special plenary session from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the organization’s annual conference, held this year at the Pittsburgh Hilton.


The Society for American Music was founded in 1975 to promote the study and performance of American music. Originally named the Sonneck Society, in honor of Oscar G. T. Sonneck (1873-1928), the first critical scholar and bibliographer of American music, and the second chief of the Music Division of the Library of Congress, the Society changed its name in 2000. Since its inception, the Society has named 29 honorary members who reflect the diversity of American music, including Howard Hanson, Gilbert Chase, Lou Harrison, Gerard Schwartz, Bill Monroe, Frederick Fennell, John Cage, Leonard Slatkin, Oscar Peterson, and Libby Larsen. Honorary members are recognized at the annual conference and receive the regular publications of the Society for life. More information about the Society may be found at

Thomas Hampson is currently in New York City performing the title role in Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra at the Metropolitan Opera; it is the first time he has sung the role with the company.