Visit Talking Classical Podcast to listen to the interview.
In this episode, we’ll be “zooming in” with Thomas Hampson, one of the finest baritones of our time.
We talked about a variety of topics including the impact of Zoom and other digital platforms on the classical music industry in these current times. Thomas is a real advocate of digital technology within his many varied projects from live-streaming masterclasses around the world to the Hampsong Foundation, an online treasure trove focused on the art of song.
With his wealth of knowledge and experience on song, Thomas is currently presenting a series with a unique classical music streaming platform IDAGIO. We briefly discussed some of the topics he’ll be exploring in this series over the next few weeks such as comparing classical song to pop songs, the relationship between music and poetry, and performance practice. Thomas also sheds new light on the construct of memorising songs in recital, that this shouldn’t be necessary in order to stay true to the composer and keep searching new ideas for the work.
Additionally, we discussed issues of and performers’ reception to music criticism. Thomas also shared some wonderful insights into his long and illustrious career, working with some of the greatest musicians of our time, from Nikolaus Harnoncourt to Daniel Barenboim to Leonard Bernstein.
Many thanks to Jenna at Lenny’s Studio for helping to organise this interview over the last few months, and Thomas for taking the time out of his very busy schedule to talk to me!
Interview recorded 14th April 2020; published 19th April 2020.
Thomas Hampson, America’s foremost baritone, has received international honors and awards for his captivating artistry and cultural leadership. Lauded as a Metropolitan Opera Guild “Met Mastersinger” and inducted into both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Gramophone’s “Hall of Fame,” Hampson is one of the most respected and innovative musicians of our time. With an operatic repertoire of over 80 roles sung in all the major theaters of the world, his discography comprises more than 170 albums, which include multiple nominations and winners of the Grammy Award, Edison Award, and the Grand Prix du Disque. He was appointed the New York Philharmonic’s first-ever Artist-in-Residence, and was honored with a Living Legend Award by the Library of Congress, where he has served as Special Advisor to the Study and Performance of Music in America.
On Friday, May 1, starting at 21:00 CET, the Teatro Maggio Musicale Fiorentino will stream an at-home concert featuring some of the world’s greatest opera stars. Live from their living rooms, the performance will feature Thomas Hampson, Cecilia Bartoli, Vittorio Grigolo, Mikhail Petrenko, Diana Damrau, Ludovic Tézier, Francesco Meli, Lisette Oropesa, Luca Salsi, Krassimira Stoyanova, Michele Pertusi, Eva Mei, Leo Nucci, Sonya Yoncheva, Fabio Sartori, and Saioa Hernández, among others who have yet to be announced.
The New York Philharmonic announced their new digital festival, Mahler’s New York, a two-week celebration of the composer/conductor who spent time in New York as the Philharmonic’s tenth Music Director (1909-11), running from April 16-30, 2020, at nyphil.org/mahlerny. During this period of global isolation and crisis, the NY Phil hopes all listeners will take comfort and inspiration in Mahler’s music and musings.
In this Beethoven-year, Thomas Hampson joins the Amsterdam Sinfonietta on tour to Moscow, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Together they bring a loving musical program, featuring Beethoven’s pining song cycle An die ferne Geliebte, and new arrangements of songs by Richard Strauss. In the past, Mr. Hampson has joined Amsterdam Sinfonietta on tour in Europe, including appearances in the major concert halls of Dublin, Madrid, Vienna, and Lisbon. He also recently teamed up with the ensemble to create the acclaimed ‘Tides of Life’ CD, released by Channel Classics in 2017.
Thomas Hampson heads to the University of Michigan School of Music for his residency beginning on Sunday, February 2, with the “Song As Citizenship” Symposium in McIntosh Theatre. The free event will be led by Associate Dean Mark Clague, with panelists including Mr. Hampson, Lousie Toppin, Caroline Helton, Chrisie Finn, George Shirley, among others. The event explores the importance of music and song. Three SMTD vocalists will sing solo songs.
Thomas Hampson brings his “Song of America: Beyond Liberty” project to the Tucson Desert Song Festival and the Seattle Symphony this month, celebrating and exploring the influential people, poetry, and events that helped create and define “the land of the free.” Hampson will be accompanied by pianist Lara Downes and a diverse ensemble of exceptional musicians, the Beyond Liberty Players.
Thomas Hampson performs in a series of chamber music concerts, featuring pianist Yuja Wang and clarinetist Andreas Ottensamer, at the Bürgenstock Winter Festival in Switzerland this month. Marking the 8th Bürgenstock Winter Festival, this edition focuses on traditions, legacies, and anniversaries. Following the festival’s new tradition, they also depart from the purely classical and explore tunes from the American songbook with Mr. Hampson.
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.