“The Art of Democracy: Song in America” Conversation Series Launches New Partnership

By christie@songofamerica

Thomas Hampson’s Hampsong Foundation and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance have formed a new partnership (June 2020) to strengthen the work of both organizations in the art of classic song, or art song, which is poetry set to music. The collaboration, called the Classic Song Research Initiative, will focus on projects related to performance, research, and education through art song. The partnership was made possible through funding from an anonymous donor and the School.

The Classic Song Research Initiative is the formalization and expansion of many collaborations between Hampson and U-M. Since 2014, Hampson and faculty members have collaborated on performances, such as the “Poets and Patriotism” concert at the Library of Congress, and research for the Hampsong Foundation’s Song of America project. In February 2020, Hampson also visited the School to teach a masterclass to voice students, as well as a session for K-12 students at the School at Marygrove, the U-M School of Education’s “cradle to career” program with the Detroit Public School System.

For more information about the partnership and our upcoming projects, please visit the Classic Song Research Initiative project page.

The Classic Song Research Initiative’s first formal collaboration is a series of weekly Facebook Live conversations called The Art of Democracy, hosted by Hampson and Mark Clague, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Musicology at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

“The Art of Democracy will incorporate a range of research and performance projects exploring the role of song and all the arts in American political life,” said Clague. “For example, we will interrogate the role of the arts as part of the problem, and as part of the solution, to the pestilence of inequality. The project’s fundamental argument is that art is a vital tool in the dialogue of ideals—for sharing, understanding, debating, negotiating, and changing one’s mind—that is at the core of any society striving to form a more perfect union.”

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