Song of America, a 13-week radio series hosted by renowned American baritone Thomas Hampson, begins airing on -October 9 on Classical 90.5 Sundays 8 pm. Reflecting Hampson’s deep passion and decades-long advocacy for the music of his country, “Song of America” reveals American classic song – poetry set to music by American composers – as a vibrant diary of the American experience. Hampson conceived and developed the series. (Program note: The Art of Great Singing with Fadel Friedlander-Fulkerson is on hiatus but will return)
October 9: American Characters
Songs about real and fictional characters in American history, including poets, preachers, and a president. The program introduces topics heard throughout the series.
October 16: Stephen Foster
“Stephen Foster’s music is the trunk of the tree of American song, sturdy with songs we love to sing,” says Thomas Hampson. In this program we explore Foster’s music, the varied artistic roots he drew from, and the musical branches that grew from his work.
October 30: Whitman and Music
Whitman, the “Bard of Democracy,” was the founder of a new American language. With music built deep into his poetry, it’s no surprise that Whitman has been a beacon for American composers.
November 6: Many Are the Voices
Many Americans have had to raise their voices to be recognized or even heard in America. In this program, we hear songs of African Americans and Native Americans; women, immigrants, and war resisters; and voices from the labor movement and the gay rights movement.
November 13: War Cries
Throughout our history, America has gone to war with bravado and with anguish. Songs have helped shape those emotions, and express them-inspiring us to battle, sustaining our courage, giving us a way to lament our losses.
November 27: Ives the Chronicle
Charles Ives was unprecedented at suiting his musical style to the story he wanted to tell, and he created dozens of surprising “snapshots in song” of what it was like to be alive in America during his lifetime.
December 4: Champions of American Song
Over the course of the 20th century, our classical singers were enthusiastic advocates for songs by American composers. In this program, we hear the music they brought to far-flung audiences through recitals, phonograph records, and radio broadcasts.
December 18: Arthur Farwell, American Pioneer
At the beginning of the 20th century, deeply influenced by Dvorak’s challenge to Americans to find their own musical voices, Arthur Farwell used music of Native Americans and words of American poets as inspiration for his own unique voice. He also pioneered the publishing and preservation of American composers and poets through his famed Wa-Wan Press.
December 25: “There Is No Gender in Music
So said composer Elinor Remick Warren. In this program we look at the lives and songs of generations of American women composers.
January 1: Emily Dickinson: Letter to the World
The reclusive poet explored all of life’s emotions, and there are hundreds of compelling settings of her poems, by composers from Ernst Bacon to André Previn to Ned Rorem.
January 8: Songs We’ve Always Sung
Aaron Copland’s “Old American Songs” have become recital standards, but traditional texts and tunes have attracted many other classical composers, including John Jacob Niles, George Crumb, and Jake Heggie.
January 15: Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance
Langston Hughes, one of America’s great poets, gave jubilant voice to the lives of African Americans. His poetry has inspired settings by dozens of composers; we hear some of that music and learn about the world that inspired him.
January 22: Places That Sing To Us
There are places in the American landscape that are part of our collective consciousness, thanks to music. In this program, we listen to songs that have helped shape the way we see our country.