Thursday, May 26, 2011 Virginia Symphony records works of Adolphus Hailstork on CD 'An American Port of Call'

[Behind Tim Handley (L to R) JoAnn Falletta, Robert Shoup, Adolphus Hailstork (Photo by Dave Norman)]

May 26, 2011
“May 18, 2011 was an historic day for the Virginia Symphony. The orchestra recorded its first CD for the Naxos label with a collection of five pieces by composer Adolphus Hailstork under the direction of its music director JoAnn Falletta. The music of Hailstork was a natural choice for the VSO. Dr Hailstork has lived in Virginia for 34 years, and many of his pieces were written for and premièred by his 'hometown' orchestra.

“Dr Hailstork was present for the sessions, which were recorded and produced by Tim Handley for Naxos. Music Director JoAnn Falletta conducted the Virginia Symphony in pieces that loosely shared a theme—the area’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and Dr Hailstork’s love of the sea. The CD, entitled An American Port of Call, contains two world première recordings—Launch Out On Endless Seas and Three Spirituals. Launch Out features the Virginia Symphony Chorus (Robert Shoup, director) and baritone Kevin Deas. The piece, set to youthful poems from Walt Whitman’s 'Leaves of Grass' is the poet’s paean to the extraordinary journey of life. Three Spirituals is a beautiful setting of 'Everytime I Feel the Spirit', 'Kumbayah' and 'Oh Freedom', and was written for the Virginia Symphony.

"Other works on the CD include Symphony No 1 and two other works written for the VSO: An American Port of Call (a musical portrait of the bustling port of Norfolk Virginia) and Fanfare On Amazing Grace (the folk song had its roots in a voyage of a slave ship from Africa and a courageous captain who turned the ship around and freed his captives).

"Composer Adolphus Hailstork has been highly praised for the vibrancy, color and communicative power of his music. His pieces combine influences of African traditional music, jazz, and European style and form, and have been played internationally. He is one of the most respected and beloved composers and educators in the United States, and is the recipient of many awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship, and has been named a Cultural Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

"Dr Hailstork expressed his particular joy at having his music recorded by Naxos, and with the orchestra he considers the quintessential interpreters of his work—his own Virginia Symphony.” [Adolphus C. Hailstork is an African American composer and professor who was born on April 17, 1941 and is profiled at]

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