Classic Song Research Initiative

Hampsong @ U-M

Partnership with the University of Michigan
(Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.)

Thomas Hampson’s Hampsong Foundation and the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance have formed a new partnership 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 classic 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 Hampsong 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.

“My collaborations with U-M since 2014, both personally and through the Hampsong Foundation, have been incredibly rewarding experiences and have created a strong foundation for this partnership,” said Hampson. “U-M is the perfect environment to develop the existing multifaceted projects of the Hampsong Foundation with the strength of the University as a research institution and music school, and allow the three prongs of this partnership — performance, research, and education — to flourish and provide invaluable experiential learning opportunities to all involved.”


2020 - Present


University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance; The School at Marygrove

Public activities


Inaugural “Sing My Song” Collaboration (2020-21)


Singing Down the Barriers
Online Summer Institute
(Summer 2021)


African American Music Conference
(Sept. 2020)


The Art of Democracy
(Summer 2020)

Videos and Other Resources


The Art of Democracy:
Voices of Wisdom (July 4, 2020)


The Art of Democracy:
Singing Down the Barriers


The Art of Democracy:
The Songs of African American Composers


The Art of Democracy:
Song as Active Citizenship


University of Michigan Master Class
(Feb. 3, 2020)


“Song as Citizenship” Symposium
(February 2020)


Song of America Educator Workshop (Dec. 2015) Archival Materials


Song of America Past Workshops and Events


Poets & Patriotism: The 200th Birthday of The Star Spangled Banner (July 2014)

More about the partnership:

“The School of Music, Theatre & Dance is thrilled to partner with Thomas Hampson and the Hampsong Foundation,” said Dean David Gier. “Thomas has come to campus several times and these interactions have been enriching for our voice students, and several of our faculty members have conducted research with the Hampsong Foundation. This new collaboration will strengthen previous work, allowing both organizations to amplify the preservation, study, and practice of song more broadly and in new contexts.”

The partnership will expand existing projects between the two organizations and pave the way for new ones. As part of the agreement, Hampson will continue to lead masterclasses and other trainings for voice students. Research initiatives will also be explored and developed between U-M faculty and the Hampsong Foundation such as projects from Professor of Music Louise Toppin’s class “African American Art Song,” a course that has already contributed scholarly work to the Song of America project. Faculty members and the foundation are also working on a research project through U-M’s Humanities Collaboratory.

“The Department of Voice is very excited about the partnership with Thomas Hampson and the Hampsong Foundation, said Associate Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Voice Scott Piper. “Thomas’ stellar career, with multi-faceted success in performance, scholarship, and advocacy for the vocal arts naturally converges with the professional and academic achievements of our faculty. Likewise, the Hampsong Foundation’s impressive collection of projects, resources, and archived events promises to further fuel the creativity, artistry, and imagination of our voice students.”

The Classic Song Research Initiative’s first formal collaboration begins on June 11 with a series of weekly Facebook Live conversations called The Art of Democracy. The first session will include a conversation with Hampson and Mark Clague, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs and Associate Professor of Musicology and Entrepreneurship and Leadership at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance. The conversation will be titled Song as Active Citizenship, and they will discuss Clague’s research on “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the protest roots of American classic song.

“The Art of Democracy will incorporate a range of research and performance projects exploring the role of song and all the arts in American life,” said Clague. “Its fundamental argument is that art is a vital tool for sharing and debating ideas, understanding, negotiation, and compromise, that is at the core of any government by and for the people.”

The Art of Democracy will also include episodes with U-M voice faculty Louise Toppin and Caroline Helton. The series will culminate with an online concert on July 4.

More about this partnership

Official Announcement

Press release from June 10, 2020 via the University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre, and Dance

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