“Song of America” – The Tour 2005/2006

The Library of Congress and Thomas Hampson celebrate creativity in America

Dubbed the “Ambassador of American Song,” Thomas Hampson in 2005 joined forces with the Library of Congress to celebrate the history of creativity in America. The collaboration materialized as a twelve-city concert tour across the United States, highlighting the Library’s unparalleled collections of songs through concerts and an accompanying multimedia exhibition. The repertoire performed spans the gamut of the American song, from the 1700s to the present day, and emphasizes its context in society, ranging from Psalm settings and hymns, folksongs and cowboy songs, to war songs and African American spirituals. Thomas Hampson tells the story of the American people, whose spirit, pride, courage, and imagination inspired the songs that chronicle over two centuries of the nation’s history. By focusing on the poetic thought in music, Hampson brings to life the tales that are captured in the unfamiliar concert songs of well-established American composers, such as Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Charles Ives, as well as in the songs penned by lesser-known, but yet equally influential composers, including Harry T. Burleigh, Arthur Farwell, and Elinor Remick Warren. In presenting these songs, as well as treasures from the Library’s collections, Thomas Hampson, his HAMPSONG Foundation and the Library of Congress have embarked on a nationwide creative voyage honoring America’s musical and cultural heritage. The cooperation helped further the understanding and pride for cultural development in America for future generations. The “Song of America” tour will continue in 2007.

Visit the tour on the Library of Congress website.

June 6th, 2006   |  Permalink  |  Filed under: Introduction

The “Song of America” Tour – An Introduction


A Hampsong-Foundation-Project in cooperation with the Library of Congress.

A five-year collaboration between America’s baritone Thomas Hampson and the Library of Congress, ‘I Hear America Singing’ is a comprehensive survey of 250 years of the American concert song, told from the varying perspectives of composer, performer, and audience. These songs, many of the best of them long forgotten — though they once graced the concert stages of the world — are performed by Mr. Hampson and a group of guest artists drawn from the greatest American performers in opera and concert today. Projects will be filmed by Jackson Frost’s Magic Hour Productions for broadcast over the Library of Congress website, ‘I Hear America Singing.’

Project Summaries

Song in America

This series celebrates the American concert song from 1759 to the present. It will include a series of song recitals at Coolidge Auditorium produced and presented by Thomas Hampson, joined by America’s greatest vocal artists, and a tour throughout America by Mr. Hampson and guests, where these songs are presented in historic concert halls to a public that may never have attended a live concert. Concerts will be filmed for presentation over the Library’s ‘I Hear American Singing’ web site, reaching many millions of listeners throughout the world.

The Listening Library

Mr. Hampson and his colleagues will record American songs of their choice, many of which have not been recorded elsewhere, and these performances l be available to the Library of Congress and its website to constitute a valuable listening library of American song.

Songs for Children

Mr. Hampson and colleagues will sing and record songs for children by some of America’s great composers. On the Song in America tour, Mr. Hampson will visit schools to discuss his project and sing some of the songs from these concerts.

Biographies: Great Singers in America

Mr. Hampson will produce and narrate for radio a series of two-hour audio biographies of great American singers of the past – both native-born and naturalized citizens. Over a five year period, twenty-five legendary singers will be profiled through vintage recordings and interviews with the subjects and/or those who knew them well, enhanced for the website with photographs, letters, and film from the archives of the Library of Congress.

America’s Rivers in Song

Thomas Hampson will tour America’s great rivers – the Colorado, Hudson, Illinois, Mississippi, Rio Grande – narrating and singing the songs associated with the history of each river. The series will be filmed for presentation on the Library’s website.

Oral Histories

Conducted by Thomas Hampson, this will be a series of conversations with contemporary American singers. Videotaped at the Library of Congress, these intimate one-on-one discussions will explore the life, times, and ideas of some of our nation’s most important vocal artists.

Master Classes

One class annually will be given by seasoned artists and held at Coolidge Auditorium for young singers. Each class will be videotaped for presentation on the website and available to libraries, music schools and university music programs. This series premiered in 2001 with a master class given by Thomas Hampson for students from Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and filmed at the Library.

America’s History through Song

Mr. Hampson will present a cybercast series in song, celebrating and chronicling great events in American history – this nation’s wars, the building of its railroads, the gold rush, the cattle drives of the West, and the invention or radio and its early influence in bringing great music into American homes.

Library of Congress Book Week

During the fall each year, the Library’s Annual Book Week is held on the Capitol grounds. At several of these events Mr. Hampson will present festivals of song and poetry celebrating American poets who have provided texts for some of the finest songs written by both American and European composers.

Wa-Wan Press

Founded by Arthur Farwell in Newton Center, MA in 1901, this interesting musical experiment sought to publish neglected music by American composers and music using American folk material, to further the cause of ragtime, Black, Native American and cowboy songs. Mr. Hampson will revive this vital American project for the Library’s website, through a series of filmed concerts and reproductions of and information on the Wa-Wan Press publications.

June 6th, 2006   |  Permalink  |  Filed under: Introduction

Thomas Hampson