Thomas Hampson returns to the U.S. this month for two concerts with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, featuring songs from six of the American Songbooks by George Crumb. The performances take place at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. on April 28, and at New York’s Alice Tully Hall on April 29. Soon after, Hampson sings an all-Richard Strauss program with Renée Fleming and the Berlin Philharmonic under Christian Thielemann in Berlin (May 5-7), before returning to the music of Gustav Mahler, on whom he has been focusing intensively this season. The baritone’s six concerts with Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic in the major music capitals of Central Europe (May 12-23) feature an all-Mahler program – Symphony No. 5 and Kindertotenlieder – and mark the second consecutive season that Hampson has toured Europe with Gilbert and the orchestra.
Now 81 years old, composer George Crumb remains deeply engrossed in a long-term initiative inspired by the great American songbook – the same great American songbook to which Hampson returns again and again in study and performance. In recent years, while the baritone toured the country with his “Song of America” project, Crumb was at work on his own American Songbook series. The Songbooks showcase the composer’s remarkable command of timbre and theatrics, using a battery of percussion instruments to transform spirituals, hymns, Civil War songs, and other folk material into contemporary soundscapes. In the two upcoming performances, Hampson sings a broad selection of songs from Crumb’s six completed sets.