May 23, 2006 Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Baritone Thomas Hampson Celebrate "Creativity Across America" in Chicago

Stop in Chicago Highlights Veterans History Program, Public Viewings of Library Treasures, Film Series

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

The internationally acclaimed baritone Thomas Hampson will give the ninth performance in his 11-city “Song of America” tour at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 28, at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall.

“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 said, “American song is about the myriad stories of America – epochs, social philosophies and the very visceral experience of this country as found in the work of our poets and composers.”

According to one critic, “Thomas Hampson is a man with a mission. …Words just tumble from his mouth in an amazing display of acuity, exuberance and truly dizzying speed. He speaks with the zeal of a true evangelist.”

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.

This tour stop will include educational teacher institutes conducted by Library of Congress staff in an effort to teach young people who might not be familiar with the variety and history of American song. “Making a Statement Through Poetry and Song,” an institute for local K-12 educators, will show teachers 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 the nation’s founding to the present day and emphasizes American songs’ context in society. The performance 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.”

For more information on the “Song of America” tour and Hampson, visit

Friends of the Library of Congress and members of its private sector advisory group, the James Madison Council, have made possible the “Song of America” tour. It is one of the first in a series of events in the Library’s broader celebration of “Creativity Across America.”

The Library of Congress 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

Events in conjunction with the concert:


An all-day teacher institute in conjunction with the Music Institute of Chicago, 300 Green Bay Road, Winnetka, Ill. For more information, call (847) 446-3822.


As part of the “Song of America” tour, the Library’s Veterans History Project is saluting all Illinois veterans and the outstanding efforts of Illinois VHP partners and participants.

FILM SERIES at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 27

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Greg Lukow, chief of the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division, present a brief introduction to the Library’s preservation efforts along with screenings of short films in the Library’s collections, including “What’s Opera, Doc?” and “Jammin’ the Blues.” Gene Siskel Film Center,

CONCERT/EXHIBIT in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 28

Public viewings of treasures from the Library of Congress include the original manuscripts of John Philip Sousa’s “The Stars and Stripes Forever” and “God Bless America” by Irving Berlin, along with items chosen specifically for the tour stop such as the published sheet music of “Chicago (That Toddling Town)” by Fred Fisher and the original manuscript of “A Perfect Day” by Carrie Jacob-Bond.

The “Song of America concert features Hampson and pianist Daniel Barenboim. For tickets and information, contact (312) 294-3000,


PR 06-110
ISSN 0731-3527