It’s not every day that music students get to have class with Thomas Hampson, a great modern baritone voice known all over the world, but they got their chance to take notes Wednesday when he taught a master class in Ed Landreth Hall Auditorium.Hampson, an internationally acclaimed baritone singer, is currently leading the tour “Song of America,” across 11 cities and performed Tuesday at Bass Hall.
The tour is sponsored by the Library of Congress and intends to promote creativity across America.
During the master class, students performed for Hampson and were critiqued on styles and given pointers on how to enhance their singing styles.
Ryan McFarland, a junior music major, said Hampson really helped him on the technical matters of his voice.
“I have always looked up to Hampson, and when I found out he was going to be giving a master class, I had to sing for him,” McFarland said. “He really concentrated on my jaw movement and showed me that it really can affect the quality of the voice.”
McFarland chose to sing the song “Luke Havergal,” by John Duke because November is American Music Month and, since Duke is an American composer, he thought he owed it to the event and culture.
One of the main points Hampson made to McFarland was that a singer’s body is always going to be full of energy and there is no way to relax yourself. Instead, Hampson showed him ways to balance the energy throughout the body to create a smoother voice, ready to hit the high notes.
James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, said the master class at TCU was just a natural choice after the concert in Fort Worth on Tuesday.
“We are really excited to be having this tour with Hampson especially, because he is extremely talented in the area of American culture and our history in music,” Billington said. “In today’s society, we are losing some of the greatest elements of creativity like the inventors, poets and musicians, and hopefully, this tour will be able to bring back some of that awareness to Americans.”
Hampson said he was really glad to work with the singers and give them pointers on how to really get the creative expression out during a song.
“My biggest piece of advice to singers is to really have a grasp on what you are singing is all about,” Hampson said. “It makes such an amazing difference to know when the author lived, the context of his world and even why he wrote the piece he did to allow for full creative expression.