World-renowned baritone Thomas Hampson received the 2009 Distinguished Artistic Leadership Award at last night’s (Wednesday 29) annual awards dinner of the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank. He shared the spotlight with four other distinguished award-winners: former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and President George H.W. Bush (41st president, and father of the recently-departed chief executive), for their role in German reunification, General David Petraeus, and IBM’s Sam Palmisano.
Picture (courtesy of Classical TV): President George H.W. Bush, General Petraeus, Thomas Hampson, and former senator Chuck Hagel, Chairman of the Atlantic Council
The event was a black-tie affair in the Grand Ballroom of Washington’s Ritz Carlton. In attendance were a swag of Senators and Congressmen, several members of the Obama administration, and one Supreme Court Justice. Also attending was Classical TV, which is why we can bring you this exclusive video clip of Hampson serenading George and Barbara Bush and the other distinguished guests.
Hampson, who received his award from Kareem Dale, Special Assistant to President Obama for the arts and culture, is among the world’s most celebrated singers performing on the stage today. During the last twenty-five years, he has performed 70 roles in a dozen languages, including title roles in nearly every major opera house in the world. In addition to having a busy recital calendar (he has performed at the White House), he is a Grammy winner, a member of the European Academy of Arts and Sciences, Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France), and also a noted music scholar. He is the Library of Congress’s Special Advisor to the Study and Performance of Music in America, where he collaborates with the Library on a joint initiative, the “Song of America” project, which highlights the importance of poetry and song in present-day American culture.
Hampson performed a selection of much-loved traditional songs: the iconic “Oh, Shenendoah”, Aaron Copland’s arrangement of the nineteenth-century minstrel song “The Boatmen’s Dance”, and Schubert’s “Der Lindenbaum”.
And at the request of George Bush Senior, he sang “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables: the incredibly poignant song in which an older man prays for the idealistic student he regards as a son to return home safely from battle.
There was no-one in the politically-savvy D.C. audience who mistook the intent of this choice. Up until now Bush Senior has been notably restrained in his lack of comment on his son’s eight years in office, and what better way to show his feelings than to have them expressed in song. George H.W. ended his own speech by saying: “One more thing – I’m thrilled to have my son home and proud of the job he did.”
For Thomas Hampson, we are delighted to add our congratulations to those of such a distinguished gathering. And we commend the Atlantic Council for including an artist among those they honor as true world leaders.
— Stephen Greco, Executive Editor, Classical TV
Watch Hampson singing at the awards ceremony in this YouTube clip.
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.