Hampson sings, Obama speaks Feb 22 at groundbreaking ceremony for new museum

Thomas Hampson To Sing at Groundbreaking Ceremony for Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on Feb 22; President Barack Obama Will Deliver Remarks

On Wednesday, February 22, Thomas Hampson will sing at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) in Washington, DC. President Barack Obama will deliver remarks at the event, which celebrates the beginning of construction of the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history, and culture. Scheduled to open in 2015, the museum, designed by the Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup, will also be the first green building on the national mall. Additional information about the event, which also features performances by mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, jazz pianist Jason Moran, the U.S. Navy Band and others, is available at the Smithsonian Museum’s blog.

Thomas Hampson comments: “What a privilege it is to be singing for the groundbreaking of the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture. Exploring every facet of our complex cultural history, which gives us a deeper understanding of civil rights in all of its manifestations, is both an honor and a responsibility. This museum will be a great national resource.”

Hampson will sing two songs at the groundbreaking: “Grief,” by African American composer William Grant Still and poet LeRoy V. Brant, followed by Aaron Copland’s “Simple Gifts.” Hampson has performed these and many other American songs in recitals at home and abroad as part of his ongoing “Song of America” project. Initially developed by Hampson in collaboration with the Library of Congress in 2005, and now a program of the Hampsong Foundation, the project reflects Hampson’s passionate, career-long advocacy of American song. As Hampson has noted, “These songs – our songs – say everything, through the eyes of our poets and the ears of our composers, about the culture we call American.”

Hampson’s “Song of America” project reached an even wider national audience this season with the introduction of the 13-week “Song of America” radio series, co-produced by the Hampsong Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network of Chicago, and syndicated by the network to public radio stations nationwide. Hosted by Hampson, and already being aired in more than 220 markets across the country since its introduction in October 2011, the series reveals classic American song – poetry set to music by American composers – as a vibrant diary of the American experience. Each hour-long program focuses on a particular topic that sheds light on a larger theme in American history. The experience of minorities in America is explored in various installments of the series, especially in such programs as “Many Are the Voices,” “There Is No Gender In Music,” and “Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance.”

Additional information about the series is available here:

Hampson recently gave a “Song of America” recital in the Charles Engelhard Court at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, part of the celebration of the museum’s newly renovated American Wing. He returns to New York later this month to begin rehearsals at the Metropolitan Opera, where he will perform the title role in Verdi’s Macbeth (March 15-April 9). These performances will mark the first time Hampson has sung this – one of his signature roles – for the company.