September 16, 2009 Library of Congress, Thomas Hampson Celebrate Creativity Across America With Song of America Project

Public Contact: Erin Allen (202) 707-7302

The Library of Congress and baritone Thomas Hampson resume their acclaimed “Song of America” project with a second season through February 2010. Drawing on the unparalleled collection of American songs housed at the Library of Congress, Hampson will present a unique series of recitals, educational activities, exhibitions, recordings, webcasts and interactive online resources. Some recital venues will have lobby exhibitions of facsimiles from the music archives of the Library, and joint efforts with local academic and cultural partners are planned to give a wide range of listeners access to America's history as told through its rich array of song.

This season’s national celebration additionally commemorates the 250th anniversary of what is recognized to be the first song written by an American (“My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free,” composed in 1759 by Philadelphian Francis Hopkinson).

At many concert venues, the Library will display rare items from its collections. Library curators will present original manuscripts and facsimiles of songs performed in the concert, as well as items representing the local musical heritage. Concert-goers can see early sketches of Aaron Copland’s “The Boatmen’s Dance” and “The Dodger” from his “Old American Songs”; the song “My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free” in the hand of Francis Hopkinson, friend of George Washington and signer of the Declaration of Independence; first editions of Stephen Foster’s “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” and “Beautiful Dreamer”; and other items relating to the Song of America repertoire.

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

A master teacher as well as a performer, Hampson has conducted countless master classes and coaching sessions for voice students worldwide. In these classes, he shares his insights into how to tell stories through song and how to bring them to life. In conjunction with the concert tour, Hampson offers master classes to local voice students and teachers. Segments of these videotaped sessions will be available on the Library’s “Song of America” project website in the Performing Arts Encyclopedia at

The “Song of America” concert tour first materialized in 2005 as the shared vision of Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Hampson. Throughout 2005-2006, Hampson, joined by a team of Library curators and educators, traveled to 11 cities across America, presenting an incomparable collection of American songs. Building on the success of the inaugural tour, Hampson and library curators once again will travel to new cities in an effort to reach new audiences and reacquaint them with America’s rich song repertoire preserved in the nation’s library. The repertoire spans the gamut of the American song, from the 1700s to the present day, and emphasizes its context in society, ranging from Psalm settings and hymns, folksongs and cowboy songs, to war songs and African American spirituals.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized website at

The music collections in the Library of Congress encompass virtually all musical genres–classical, jazz, folk, gospel, blues, rock, country and hip-hop. There are original manuscripts by European masters such as Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms, as well as those of American masters such as Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein. Many digitized musical items now are online in the Performing Arts Encyclopedia at

For ticket and event information, please visit the presenters’ websites.

Sept. 30, 2009
San Francisco Performances
San Francisco, Calif.

Oct. 3, 2009
Los Angeles Opera
Los Angeles, Calif.

Oct. 6, 2009
Friends of Chamber Music
Portland, Ore.

Oct. 9, 2009
UCSB Arts and Lectures
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Oct. 11, 2009
University of Colorado
Boulder, Colo.

Oct. 21, 2009
Modlin Center for the Arts
Richmond, Va.

Nov. 12, 2009
American Musicological Society Conference
Philadelphia, Pa.

Nov. 17, 2009
McCarter Theater Center
Princeton, N.J.

Feb. 19, 2010
Emory University
Atlanta, Ga.


PR 09-174
ISSN 0731-3527