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