Thomas Hampson's American Song, Part One: The Journey Begins

by Alison Young, Minnesota Public Radio
August 14, 2009
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St. Paul, Minn. — Part of what makes a virtuoso soloist so great is his connection to the music he makes. How does the music make him feel? What does it mean to him? How is something old -- a classic -- relevant to his time?

For baritone Thomas Hampson, he experiences music on many levels -- the intellectual, the emotional, as well as through the sheer power of the story told by the text.

Thomas Hampson began his "Song of America" tour with a recital on the banks of the Mississippi River, in Minnesota Bluff Country.

This is music that sings our collective history -- from the cheap tricks in presidential elections, to our spiritual foundation; from the thousands killed on the Western Front in World War I to the beauty of an Appalachian morning.

"You're the first people in the first state of many to hear this new program," a grinning Hampson told the capacity house after opening the concert with another first, Francis Hopkinson's "My Days have been So Wondrous Free" -- the work George Washington and other sources took to be the United States' earliest composed song.

Listen to that song -- and the entire recital -- with Thomas Hampson narrating. The recital has been parsed into four mini-recitals. Hear part one by clicking to the right.

The Journey Begins:

Francis Hopkinson - My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free

Stephen Foster - Open Thy Lattice Love

Aaron Copland - The Dodger

Charles Ives - Circus Band

Edward MacDowell - The Sea

Aaron Copland - The Golden Willow Tree

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This recital was recorded by Cameron Wiley at Somsen Auditorium in Winona on July 9, 2009.

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