November 4, 2005 Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Baritone Thomas Hampson Celebrate "Creativity Across America" with Concert in Kansas City

First Stop in Kansas City Metropolitan Area Highlights Educational Teacher Training Institutes, Informational Kiosks, Films, Conservation Workshops

Press Contact: Trish Taylor Shuman (202) 707-1940 | Erin Allen (202) 707-7302

The internationally acclaimed baritone Thomas Hampson will give the premiere performance in his 11-city “Song of America” tour on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 8 p.m. in Yardley Hall at the Carlsen Center, Johnson County Community College. The college is located in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kan.

“The ‘Song of America’ tour with Thomas Hampson is part of an unprecedented national program that the Library of Congress is initiating to celebrate creativity across America,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “America is a wellspring of new ideas in music, literature, poetry, film and other forms of artistic expression. As the home of the Copyright Office of the United States, the Library of Congress has been the repository of American creativity since 1870. We want to celebrate the energy and inventive spirit that are such an integral part of our cultural history, and I cannot think of a more accomplished ambassador for the first part of our initiative than Tom.”

“To me the most interesting thing in learning about American song is to realize what our poets and composers have in common: It’s a driving need to tell a story about ourselves and about our becoming this American society,” said Hampson.

His long-standing collaboration with the Library of Congress grew out of a vision shared with Billington: to honor the history and preservation of American song and to reveal to new audiences the breadth and depth of the Library’s unparalleled collections of musical scores and recordings.

The primary goal of the “Song of America” tour is to reach out to young people who might not be familiar with the great depth and variety of American song and history. The Kansas City concert tour will include an educational component in which Billington and Hampson will interact with students at University Academy, a K-12 charter public school. Kansas City Young Audiences, an organization that provides artistic educational programs to Kansas City metropolitan area schools, will provide support. The Library will send its educational outreach staff to conduct a two-day teacher institute, “Making a Statement Through Poetry and Song,” for local K-12 educators at the Olathe Public School. Invited teachers will learn how to incorporate the Library’s unique online collections into their classrooms to encourage critical thinking skills among their students.

Hampson, a native of Spokane, Wash., has long been regarded as one of the most passionate advocates for American song, which he has championed throughout his career. His companion CD, titled “Song of America” (EMI Classics), is a 20-track collection of American song, created in association with the Library. The album features songs that Hampson will sing on the tour, as well as many other favorites and lesser-known gems.

The “Song of America” tour featuring Thomas Hampson has been made possible The Hall Family Foundation, friends of the Library of Congress and members of its private advisory group, the James Madison Council. It is one of the first in a series of events in the Library’s broader, long-term exploration and celebration of “Creativity Across America.”

The Library is the world’s largest library with more than 130 million items in nearly all languages and formats. It serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both through its 21 reading rooms on Capitol Hill and its award-winning Web site at

In conjunction with the concert will be:


Kiosks will be installed at the Crown Center, Downtown Kansas City Library and Carlsen Center displaying general tour details, schedules and information on Library of Congress music resources. The Library of Congress will leave these behind as gifts to the greater Kansas City regional area.


Teachers’ Institutes at Pembroke Hill School and Olathe Public School

Two assemblies at University Academy, K-12 charter school


Thomas Hampson vocal master class with local students

A pre-concert lecture with William Everett, associate professor in music history at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, on American song in the recital hall

Public viewings of treasures from the Library, including musical manuscripts such as Louis Armstrong’s “Gully Low Blues” and Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” along with items chosen specifically for the tour stop such as the sheet music for Frederic Logan’s “Missouri Waltz Song” and Roger C. Webb’s “Kansas City A’s”

“Song of America” concert featuring Hampson and pianist Craig Rutenberg. For tickets and more information, contact (913) 469-4445,


Screenings of several films restored by the Library of Congress, including “Jammin’ the Blues,” “His Girl Friday,” “The Happy Hottentots” and “Casablanca,” at the Tivoli Theater, 4050 Pennsylvania Ave., Kansas City, MO 64111. For reservations call (913) 383-7756.


Veterans Outreach: “Preserving Your Memories.”Downtown Kansas City Public Library, 14 West 10th St., Kansas City, Mo. For more information, call (816) 701-3400.


PR 05-239
ISSN 0731-3527