February 15, 2010

Singing the 'Song of America'

Thomas Hampson

In partnership with the Library of Congress, the leading baritone of opera and concert star Thomas Hampson returns to Emory with a captivating new program celebrating the 250th anniversary of the writing of America’s first song. Featured in “Song of America” are hymns, folksongs, spirituals, psalms, cowboy and war songs from the 1700s through today that tell the American story of creativity.

The program includes works by Bernstein, Copland, Ives and lesser-known but important composers Harry T. Buleigh, Arthur Farwell, Elinor Remick Warren and others. This Flora Glenn Candler Series Concert is Friday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. (Schwartz Center, Emerson Concert Hall). Tickets ($50 public; $37 all Emory employees; $20 Emory students or free with Arts Passport) are available at 404.727.5050 or (discount not available online).

The Philadelphia Inquirer lauded the concert program as “a thoroughly exceptional recital." Of Hampson they said, "No recitalist is more charming. Hampson singing in his native language almost guarantees an extra zing.”

Hampson and the Library of Congress developed this program celebrating the 250th anniversary of the first song ever written by an American, “My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free,” composed in 1759 by Philadelphian Francis Hopkinson.

Hampson has said, “The ‘Song of America’ project has become a thrilling dream come true for me: criss-crossing our country singing the songs born of our life experiences as Americans in the language of our hearts and minds. These songs — our songs — say everything about the culture we call American. And when we sing our own songs, when we see through the eyes of our poets and hear with the ears of our composers the diary of our land, those who hear us will experience the best of what freedom of thought and purpose can achieve in the creation of great art."

Raised in Washington state, Hampson has recorded dozens of America’s songs, presented a PBS special and given master classes on American song, all the while maintaining his position as a preeminent singer of opera and art songs in many languages and as an expert on and editor of Gustav Mahler’s songs.

As part of Emory’s Coca-Cola Artist-in-Residence Program, Hampson will lead a vocal masterclass for Emory voice majors on Thursday, Feb. 18 from 2:30-3:45 p.m. that is free and open for public observation.

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