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May 23, 2006

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Baritone Thomas Hampson Celebrate " Creativity Across America" in Omaha

Stop in Omaha Highlights Public Viewings of Library Treasures, Military Tribute

The internationally acclaimed baritone Thomas Hampson will give the 10th performance in his 11-city "Song of America" tour at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31, at the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha, Neb.

"The ‘Song of America’ tour with Thomas Hampson continues as part of an unprecedented national program from the Library of Congress to celebrate creativity across America," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "America is a wellspring of new ideas in music, literature, poetry, film and other forms of artistic expression. As the home of the Copyright Office of the United States, the Library of Congress has been the repository of American creativity since 1870. We want to celebrate the energy and inventive spirit that are such an integral part of our cultural history, and I cannot think of a more accomplished ambassador for the first part of our initiative than Tom."

Hampson said, "American song is about the myriad stories of America – epochs, social philosophies and the very visceral experience of this country as found in the work of our poets and composers."

According to one critic, "Thomas Hampson is a man with a mission. …Words just tumble from his mouth in an amazing display of acuity, exuberance and truly dizzying speed. He speaks with the zeal of a true evangelist."

Hampson’s long-standing collaboration with the Library of Congress grew out of a vision shared with Billington: to honor the history and preservation of American song and to introduce new audiences to the breadth and depth of the Library’s unparalleled collections of musical scores and recordings.

The "Song of America" concert repertoire spans from the nation’s founding to the present day and emphasizes American songs’ context in society. The performance will include national favorites such as Stephen Foster’s "Beautiful Dreamer," the folk anthem "Shenandoah" and many rarities such as Harry T. Burleigh’s "Ethiopia Saluting the Colors."

For more information on the "Song of America" tour and Hampson, visit www.loc.gov/creativity/hampson/.

Friends of the Library of Congress and members of its private sector advisory group, the James Madison Council, have made possible the "Song of America" tour. It is one of the first in a series of events in the Library’s broader celebration of "Creativity Across America."

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library with more than 130 million items in nearly all languages and formats. It serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both through its 21 reading rooms on Capitol Hill and its award-winning Web site at www.loc.gov.

Events in conjunction with the concert:

CONCERT/EXHIBIT at the Holland Performing Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 31

Public viewings of treasures from the Library of Congress include the original manuscripts of John Philip Sousa’s "The Stars and Stripes Forever" and "God Bless America" by Irving Berlin, along with items chosen specifically for the tour stop such as the published version with composer emendations of "Charles Rutlage" (from "114 Songs") by Charles Ives and the copyright deposit and published sheet music of "Happy Trails" by Dale Evans.

The "Song of America" concert features Hampson and pianist Wolfram Rieger, with a special tribute to men and women of the military. For tickets and information, contact (402) 345-0606, www.omahaperformingarts.org.

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PR 06-111
05/23/06
ISSN 0731-3527

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