Thursday, December 10, 2009

JoAnn Falletta Conducts Hailstork's 'Gift of the Magi' With Symphonic Playing, Song & Dance

[Adolphus Hailstork: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3; Grand Rapids Symphony; David Lockington, Conductor; Naxos 8.559295 (2007)]

JoAnn Falletta is Music Director of the Virginia Symphony:
“'Gift of the Magi' is reborn this weekend
By Teresa Annas
The Virginian-Pilot
© December 10, 2009
Perhaps a decade ago, a friend gave Carol Thomas Downing a book, O. Henry's 'The Gift of the Magi.' The story of a poor young couple sacrificing to buy each other a Christmas present moved her.” “This holiday season, the Portsmouth musician's vision is coming to life in a big way. On Sunday, the world premiere of 'The Gift of the Magi' - along with the Christmas portions of Handel's 'Messiah' - will be staged at the Ferguson Center for the Arts in Newport News, with a second performance Tuesday at Regent University in Virginia Beach.”

“The 24-minute piece was composed by Adolphus Hailstork of Virginia Beach, who has top national credits and whose work she loves. Downing's group commissioned Hailstork, and at the composer's suggestion she wrote the lyrics. Twenty-two members of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra will perform in the pit. Thirty-nine of the most experienced singers in Downing's group will perform. The vocalists, ages 13 to 17, will dance a little, too. Todd Rosenlieb, a gifted choreographer who runs a Norfolk dance company, created storytelling moves both for his own dancers and for singers.”

“The composition includes a suite of four songs. As he wrote, Hailstork referred to a storyboard provided by Rosenlieb and Downing. To get the sound he wanted, Hailstork blended romantic instruments, such as harp and strings, with 'antique' ones, including double reeds and flutes. 'One of my favorite moments is the embrace,' Hailstork said. That's when Jim first sees that Della has cut off her gorgeous long hair, having sold it to buy a watch fob for him. Meanwhile, he has sold his watch to buy jeweled hair combs for her.”

“Hailstork is an unpretentious interviewee. Regarding his own music, he said, 'You gotta like pretty tunes. If you like pretty tunes, you'll like it.'” “He said writing music to lyrics comes easily to him. 'As soon as I read the words, I hear the melody. That is just a habit.'" [Adolphus Cunningham Hailstork (b. 1941) was born in Rochester, New York and is profiled at]

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