Just before his Library of Congress recital, internationally renowned American baritone Thomas Hampson visited with 29 K-12 teachers from across the nation who are participating in the NEH-sponsored Banner Moments Teacher Institute. He was particularly keen to share his own educational effort — the Song of America website. Targeting users from K-12 students to fellow professional singers, Hampson presents materials ranging from hundreds of poet and composer features (bio, plus recordings and videos) to song information, his own recordings, and historic interviews with well-known opera stars in the past. Hampson was also keen to learn from teachers not only about their desires for knowledge about music but also about the challenges the face in the trenches of education today.
We captured two brief videos that present major talking points of Hampson’s discussion with the teachers: first that song is an almost magical art combining the art of poetry with the art of music. He believes both that song offers a window into the history and psyche of humankind, while also offering an accessible emotional journey to the new listener.
He also believes that the differences between classical and popular music are far outweighed by their similarities and that classical musicians must engage the widest possible audience, not because of art or entertainment but because song is humankind’s “Book of Hours” or a repository of knowledge of our culture.
We are so grateful to Thomas Hampson for his generosity, with travel time, conversation, time for photos, etc, he spent over three hours with our summer scholars.
Banner Moments: The National Anthem in American Life is a project of the University of Michigan’s American Music Institute and the Star Spangled Music Foundation. It is paid for by a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and is being hosted by the University of Maryland School of Music.