January 6, 2006 Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Baritone Thomas Hampson Celebrate "Creativity Across America" with 11-City Concert Tour

Stop in Philadelphia Highlights Educational Master Class with Curtis Institute, Public Viewings of Library Treasures, Veterans History Conservation Program

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

The internationally acclaimed baritone Thomas Hampson will give the third performance in his 11-city “Song of America” tour at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 8, in the Perelman Theater at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

“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.”

Hampson said “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.”

Hampson’s 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 bring 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 teach young people who might not be familiar with the variety of American song and history. As part of the Philadelphia initiative, educational outreach staff from the Library of Congress will conduct a teacher institute, “Making a Statement Through Poetry and Song,” for local K-12 educators later this year. Invited teachers will learn how to incorporate the Library’s unique online collections into their classrooms to encourage critical thinking skills among their students.

A native of Spokane, Wash., Hampson 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.

Friends of the Library of Congress and members of its private advisory group, the James Madison Council, have made possible the “Song of America” tour featuring Thomas Hampson possible. 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 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 www.loc.gov.

Events in conjunction with the concert:

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH PROGRAM at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, January 7

Master Class at the Kimmel Center with Thomas Hampson and Curtis Institute of Music vocal students

CONCERT at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 8

Public viewings of treasures from the Library at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts and Curtis Institute of Music, the first edition cover of Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer” and pages from the musical manuscript of Aaron Copeland’s “Appalachian Spring,” along with items chosen specifically for the tour stop, such pages from the musical manuscripts of “Lullaby” by Gian Carlo Menotti and “Song for a New House” by Samuel Barber, both former students of the Curtis Institute, as well as a bird’s-eye-view map of Philadelphia in 1886.

A pre-concert lecture with Librarian of Congress James H. Billington on “Song of America” tour and song selections begins at 6:00 “Song of America” concert featuring Hampson and pianist Wolfram Rieger.

For tickets and information, contact (215) 893-1999, www.kimmelcenter.org.

CONSERVATION WORKSHOP at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 7

Veterans History Project Program: “Veterans History Project Salutes Philadelphia-area Veterans and Our Partners.” A special video screening, lecture and one-on-one dialogue between Tom Wiener, Veteran History Project esteemed historian and author, and Five Star Council member, General Julius Becton. Free Library of Philadelphia – Central Library, 1901 Vine St., Philadelphia, Pa.


PR 06-007
ISSN 0731-3527