Thomas Hampson Wins 2011 ECHO Klassik “Singer of the Year”

Thomas Hampson has won a 2011 ECHO Klassik, receiving the “Singer of the Year” award for his critically-acclaimed recording of Gustav Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn with the Wiener Virtuosen (a conductor-less ensemble comprised of principal players of the Vienna Philharmonic), released earlier this year by Deutsche Grammophon.  This is the third time that Hampson has won a prestigious ECHO Klassik, which is generally recognized as the German equivalent of the Grammy Award.  The good news comes less than two months after Hampson received the 2011 Concertgebouw Prize for his outstanding contribution to the arts.

Hampson’s first ECHO Klassik came in 1994, when his award for “Best Male Singer” crowned a series of ten prestigious recordings and critical honors for that season.  He won the prize again in 1996, once again being named “Best Male Singer,” this time for his album of German arias with Fabio Luisi, released by EMI Classics.  Hampson will receive his 2011 ECHO Klassik at a gala award ceremony on October 2 in Berlin’s Konzerthaus that will be broadcast by German national TV (ZDF).  Additional information about the prize is available here:

Hampson’s ECHO Klassik is the crowning achievement of his season-long immersion – more than 50 concerts and recitals – in the works of Mahler, whose music has been central to the baritone’s repertoire for two decades.  Hampson began the worldwide celebrations of Mahler’s life and music on the composer’s 150th birthday, July 7, 2010, in Kaliste, Czech Republic, with a recital from Mahler’s birth house that streamed live on, as well as an internationally televised orchestral concert, now available on DVD.  In January, Hampson performed Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic soon after performing more Mahler orchestral songs with Mariss Jansons and the Vienna Philharmonic.  In April, the baritone sang Das Lied von der Erde and selections from Des Knaben Wunderhorn on an extensive tour with the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and conductor Philippe Jordan, and in May Hampson reunited with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert to perform Mahler songs on a tour of six major European music capitals.

Hampson’s new recording of Des Knaben Wunderhorn, which he describes as “the recording I’ve always wanted to make,” was released in the U.S. in January. The Wall Street Journal called the disc “superb”, while BBC Music magazine described it as “a wonderfully fresh imaginative take on the songs … A constantly absorbing recital [with] pungent characterizations.”   Hampson discussed the album and some of his other season highlights in a special broadcast/webcast from WQXR’s Greene Space earlier this year.  His conversation and performance is available here.

Mahler’s music will continue to be a mainstay of Hampson’s life and career.  Among the highlights of his 2011-12 season, for example, will be performances of Das Lied von der Erde with the Munich Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta in November, and Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in January.

Earlier this month Hampson gave “Song of America” recitals in Winona, Minnesota, which will be broadcast by American Public Media’s Performance Today in the fall. He will sing Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder and Rückert-Lieder under the direction of Fabio Luisi at the Pacific Music Festival in Japan (July 30 and 31 in Sapporo; August 3 in Tokyo).  In September, Hampson opens San Francisco Opera’s new season starring in the world premiere of Heart of a Soldier, a new opera by Christopher Theofanidis commemorating the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks (seven performances through September 30). In the new work, featuring a libretto by Donna Di Novelli and directed by Francesca Zambello, Hampson creates the title role of Rick Rescorla, who died in the collapse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center following his heroic evacuation of all 2,700 employees of Morgan Stanley.