Saturday, June 30, 2012

'Adolphus Hailstork: An American Port of Call' on Naxos is an exciting yet cerebral disc

[Adolphus Hailstork: An American Port of Call; Naxos 8.559722 (2012)]

Adolphus C. Hailstork is a prolific African American composer whose vocal and instrumental works are performed with great frequency. He was born on April 17, 1941 and is featured at, which lists 28 recordings on which his works appear. The Virginia Symphony, under the direction of JoAnn Falletta, has just released its first CD on the Naxos label, An American Port of Call, Naxos 8.559722 (2012).

The new CD opens with the composer's Symphony No. 1 (1988) (21:10). JoAnn Falletta leads the Virginia Symphony in a bright and lively rendition of the work. Next is
Three Spirituals (2005) (8:17), an instrumental piece encompassing Everytime I Feel The Spirit; Kum Ba Yah; and Oh Freedom. The title work of the recording follows: An American Port of Call (1985) (8:33). Fanfare on Amazing Grace (2003) (3:32) is next. The program concludes with the choral work, Whitman's Journey: Launch Out on Endless Seas (2005) (17:37). The texts are by Walt Whitman. Vocal performers are Kevin Deas, baritone; and the Virginia Symphony Chorus, whose Director is Robert Shoup.

Composer’s Notes
“In 1987 I was asked to write a piece for a summer music festival in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. Since the piece was to be twenty minutes long and for a Haydn-sized orchestra I decided that a simple first symphony would fit the bill. It is written in the standard four movements: Allegro, Adagio, Scherzo and Rondo. The final rondo brings back themes from the previous three movements.

“The Three Spirituals are orchestral settings of three spirituals I set for pipe organ: Everytime I Feel The Spirit, Kum Ba Yah, and Oh Freedom. I made the arrangements in 2005 to help celebrate the reopening of the Crispus Attucks Theater in Norfolk, Virginia.

An American Port of Call was written in 1985 for the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. The concert overture, in sonata-allegro form captures the strident (and occasionally tender and even mysterious) energy of a busy American port city. The great port of Norfolk, Virginia, where I live, was the direct inspiration.

Whitman’s Journey, Launch Out on Endless Seas was commissioned by Donald J. McCullough for the Master Chorale of Washington, DC. The première took place in April 2006 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Though this movement was originally conceived as the first of a set of three, it stands alone as a tribute to the adventurous spirit of all people setting out on the seas of life. The texts used in this piece are among the early, youthful poems in Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. They depict Whitman’s vigorous optimism and his call to all women and men to join with him as he launches out on life’s great journey.
Adolphus Hailstork

Adolphus Hailstork, JoAnn Falletta and the Virginia Symphony have worked their magic once again, this time with an international release on the world's leading classical music label, Naxos. This is an exciting yet cerebral disc we expect to make a regular part of our music listening.

Disclosure: A review copy of this CD was provided by the record label. 

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