Monday, April 16, 2012

Adolphus C. Hailstork, Much-Performed Composer of Vocal, Orchestral & Organ Works, Born April 17, 1941

[Adolphus C. Hailstork]

Adolphus C. Hailstork is an African American composer and professor who was born on April 17, 1941. He was interviewed by William J. Zick on April 13, 2010. A transcript can be read on AfriClassical Blog, and is excerpted on his page at

Prof. Dominique-René de Lerma,, writes in the liner notes of African Heritage Symphonic Series, Vol. II; Cedille CDR 90000 061 (2001): “Adolphus Cunningham Hailstork was born in Rochester, New York in 1941, but spent most of his childhood in Albany, where he joined the choir of the Episcopalian cathedral. From this experience he developed an interest in vocal melodic writing that asserts itself not only in his choral works and art songs."

Adolphus Hailstork attended the public schools of Albany, New York. He says in his interview: “Early on, I took a Music Aptitude Exam given by the school system in New York State where I grew up.”Apparently they thought I had some aptitude for music. If you do, you wind up getting free instrumental lessons. I started out on the violin by the Fourth Grade, and then switched to Piano and Organ, sang in the Choirs, and that was all my early schooling.

The website of Old Dominion University says of Hailstork: “While attending Albany High School he began to conduct a boys' choral group and to compose music.” Asked if he had composed before he entered Howard University, Prof. Hailstork replied: “Yes. I have a notebook here from '57 that has some early sketches for pieces in it. That's the earliest extant stuff I have! ... Mostly they were little piano pieces....The high school orchestra director, a wonderful woman named Gertrude Howarth, said 'If you write it, we'll play it!'...Started in high school and have never stopped! ...That makes this the 53rd year I've been at this stuff; I'm finally getting it!”

The Hailstork page at lists 28 recordings on which his works appear, and more are in the works. Throughout the year, performances and mentions of the composer's works appear with great frequency. To illustrate this point, we list some Hailstork works recently discussed on this blog:

April 15, 2012 Stephen Brookes writes in The Washington Post: “...the radiantly beautiful 'Adagio' movement from Aldolphus Hailstork’s Symphony No.1.”

April 15, 2012 Dissertation examines Hailstork's “Sonata for Trumpet and Piano.”

March 2, 2012 California Lutheran University Choir in Nocturne.

February 26, 2012 Drexel Concert Band in New “Wade ‘N Water”

February 21, 2012 Lenoir-Rhyne University 'Alleluia. The Lord is My Shepherd'

February 20, 2012 Brazeal Dennard “Chorale’s performance of Adolphus Hailstork’s ‘I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes’ featuring soprano Alice McAllister Tillman.

February 17, 2012 African American Art Song Alliance, 'FOUR ROMANTIC LOVE SONGS' (Dunbar)

February 7, 2012 African American Art Song Alliance, The Heavens Declare

July 14, 2011 Berkshire Choral Festival Break Forth

Comment by email:
Thanks, Bill.  Real nice.  [Adolphus C. Hailstork]

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