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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.
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. Together with librettist John Caird, O’Regan has designed The Phoenix as an opera within an opera, exploring Da Ponte’s life in the US, and as such providing a fascinating perspective on America as a nation of immigrants. The young and elder Da Ponte are created by Luca Pisaroni and Thomas Hampson, respectively. Music director Patrick Summers conducts the Houston Grand Opera.
Listen to the album and purchase a copy here!
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.
“The Animated Story of Jenny Lind” is a step into an animated era and a sensational music story. As a teenager, Jenny Lind became an international icon. Adored by Chopin and Clara Schumann, best friends with Queen Victoria of England, and in close relationship with the composer Felix Mendelssohn, the young singer made opera popular all over the world. With award winning soprano Malin Byström and Evan Rogister conducting The Swedish Radio Symphony orchestra, this documentary features young talent Annie Ternström and Thomas Hampson as the inspired narrator, with animations by the acclaimed Jessica Laurén.
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.
The Gewandhausorchester will stream the best recordings from the 2018 and 2019 concerts of Leipzig’s largest classical event, the “Klassik airleben” on Saturday, June 27, at 20:00 via www.klassik-airleben.de. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the famous open-air concert at the picturesque Rosental was canceled this year.
In song, you have one of the most amazing diaries of any generation’s culture at a given time.