Indeed, Hampson’s taste in new music is quite catholic. One of the most challenging pieces he’s had in recent years was by the experimental German composer Matthias Pintscher. The piece required Hampson to learn Hebrew and to sing some of the most challenging rhythms he’d ever encountered.
The goal, he went on, was not to look for the next masterpiece but to continue the process of self-reflection that each piece, each entry in our cultural diary, furthers.
“There’s just way too much banal measurement of whether this or that new piece is successful, rather than embracing the process of finding our own musical language in any particular generation,” he said. “I mean, you say ‘new music,’ and a lot of our public kind of sighs. Personally, I like expanding my ears and my horizons. It doesn’t mean I have to walk out of everything I heard and go, wow, I want to listen to that every other day. That’s not the point. The point is to innervate, if you will, your own life’s perceptions of how we use words and how we appreciate sounds and how we use those two things to tell our story in our lives.”
David Weininger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.