Saturday, November 12, 2011

Orlando Sentinel: Orlando Phil, Negro Spiritual Master Singers & Adolphus Hailstork Honor Zora Neale Hurston

[Adolphus C. Hailstork; “The Negro Spiritual Master Singers” (Photo: Jacque Brund / February 13, 2010)]

Matthew J. Palm has written separate articles published in the Orlando Sentinel on the contributions of the Orlando Philharmonic, The Negro Spiritual Master Singers and composer Adolphus C. Hailstork (b. 1941), who is featured at, to the “American Voices” program Saturday, Nov. 12, 2011:
By Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel Entertainment Critic
November 10, 2011
“It's a night of American music, poetry and song — and it also embodies the spirit of collaboration and inclusiveness that makes this country great. Groups working with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra to present the concert include the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, the 'Negro Spiritual' Scholarship Foundation Master Singers and the Florida Opera Theatre Chorus.

“The concert will honor Eatonville author Zora Neale Thurston of 'Their Eyes Were Watching God' fame with an original composition by Adolphus Hailstork. Actress-director Elizabeth Van Dyke wrote the work's libretto.”

Matthew J. Palm, Orlando Sentinel Entertainment Critic
November 11, 2011
“Titled 'Zora! We're Calling You,' the work is a combination of music and spoken word adapted from Hurston's writings, the most famous of which is 'Their Eyes Were Watching God.'” “Hurston, one of the nation's pre-eminent writers of 20th-century African-American literature, spent her childhood in Eatonville, among the nation's oldest incorporated black municipalities. The debut of 'Zora! We're Calling You' comes in the lead-up to Eatonville's 125th anniversary in 2012.

“The importance of the work is underscored by a pair of grants totaling $70,000 awarded toward its creation. The Pabst foundation contributed $45,000, and a prestigious award from the National Endowment for the Arts added an additional $25,000.” "An award from the NEA is a distinction," said N.Y. Nathiri of the Association to Preserve the Eatonville Community, which oversees the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival. "That is the testimony to the power of the creative energy that has come together."

“The Orlando Philharmonic collaborated with the Eatonville association to create the work, which was two years in the making. The Pabst grant allowed the groups to commission African-American composer Adolphus Hailstork, has composed notable symphonies and operas about 19th-century black cowboys and the Underground Railroad.

“Hailstork, a professor of music at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., said Hurston's work resonated with him. 'She was a rambunctious gal. I liked that,' he said. 'She was a party girl.' Hurston's spirited nature infuses the 20-minute composition, he said. By contemplating her work as well as her personality, he was able to create a complex piece of music.

"'Her children's stories, along with telling the serious story of this rich life, make for a complete emotional package,' he said of the piece. Hailstork collaborated with actress Elizabeth Van Dyke, who crafted the spoken-word segments and will perform them at Saturday's concert. Van Dyke, a champion of black women in the arts, played Hurston in an award-winning 1990 off-Broadway autobiography of the writer.

No comments: