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

Stop in St. Paul Highlights Teacher Institute, Commission Premiere,

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

The internationally acclaimed baritone Thomas Hampson will give the fourth performance in his 11-city “Song of America” tour at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, Minn. Highlighting the performance will be the world premiere of a commissioned work by Stephen Paulus, “A Heartland Portrait,” based on poems by Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.

“The ‘Song of America’ tour with Thomas Hampson continues as part of an unprecedented national program from the Library of Congress 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’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 introduce new audiences to the breadth and depth of the Library’s unparalleled collections of musical scores and recordings.

Each concert is customized to highlight special contributions of the host city’s pre-eminent composers and musicians by displaying original musical manuscripts of their work.

As part of the St. Paul 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 at the Minnesota Humanities Commission. Invited teachers will learn how to incorporate the Library’s unique online collections into their classrooms to encourage critical thinking skills among their students.

The “Song of America” concert repertoire spans from our nation’s founding to the present day and emphasizes American songs’ context in society. The performace will include national favorites such as Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer,” the folk anthem “Shenandoah” and many rarities such as Harry T. Burleigh’s “Ethiopia Saluting the Colors.”

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. It is one of the first in a series of events in the Library’s broader 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 www.loc.gov.

Events in conjunction with the concert:

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH PROGRAM at 9 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 17

Teacher Institute at the Minnesota Humanities Commission, 987 East Ivy, St. Paul, MN. For more information, call (651) 774-0105.

CONCERT at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17

  • Public viewings of treasures from the Library of Congress at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and The Schubert Club include the first edition cover of Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer” and pages from the musical manuscript of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” along with items chosen specifically for the tour stop, such as the sheet music of “My Minnesota Home” by Lyle Regal “Mr. Tambourine Man” by Bob Dylan.
  • A pre-concert panel discussion with composers Stephen Paulus and Libby Larsen on the historical and social significance of song in America beginning at 7 p.m.
  • “Song of America” concert featuring Hampson and pianist Wolfram Rieger. For tickets and information, contact (651) 224-4222, www.ordway.org.


PR 06-008
ISSN 0731-3527