Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Adolphus C. Hailstork, Vocal and Instrumental Composer Whose Latest CD is 'An American Port of Call' on Naxos, Was Born April 17, 1941

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

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 and a transcript is excerpted on his page at  His vocal, orchestral and organ works are as frequently performed as those of any composer of African descent. Hailstork has dozens of recordings to his credit. Most recently, the Virginia Symphony, under the direction of JoAnn Falletta, 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.  
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!”

Comments by email:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY! HOW PERFECT! Don't forget that I'll be playing today the Naxos recording of your symphonies No.2 and 3 today on my WHPK-FM radio show (Chicago).  Sergio  [Sergio Mims]

THANK YOU.  [Adolphus C. Hailstork]

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