About this Recording
8.559722 - HAILSTORK, A.: American Port of Call (An) / Symphony No. 1 / 3 Spirituals (Virginia Symphony, Falletta)

Adolphus Hailstork (b. 1941)
An American Port of Call


Composer and College Professor Adolphus Cunningham Hailstork, born April 17, 1941 in Rochester, New York, began his musical studies with piano lessons as a child. He studied at Howard University and Manhattan School of Music, spending the summer of 1963 at the American Institute at Fontainebleau, France. After service in the US Armed Forces in Germany (1966–1968), he returned to the United States and pursued his doctorate degree at Michigan State University in Lansing. He also attended the Electronic Music Institution at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire (summer, 1972) and the Seminar on Contemporary Music (summer, 1978) at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His principal teachers were H. Owen Reed (Michigan State University), Vittorio Giannini and David Diamond (Manhattan School of Music), Mark Fax (Howard University) and Nadia Boulanger (American Institute at Fontainebleau). His career as a teacher includes graduate assistantships at Michigan State University (1969–1971), and professorships at Youngstown State University in Ohio (1971–1977), Norfolk State University in Virginia (1977–2000), and Old Dominion University, also in Norfolk, Virginia (2000–present), where he is Eminent Scholar and Professor of Music.

Adolphus Hailstork has written numerous works for chorus, solo voice, piano, organ, various chamber ensembles, band, and orchestra. Among his early compositions are Celebration, and Out of the Depths (1977), and American Guernica (1983), two band works which won national competitions. Consort Piece (1995), commissioned by the Norfolk Chamber Ensemble, was awarded first prize by the University of Delaware Festival of Contemporary Music. Significant performances by major orchestras (Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York) have been directed by leading conductors, including James de Priest, Daniel Barenboim, Kurt Masur, and Lorin Maazel. His Second Symphony and second opera, Joshua’s Boots, both had their premières in 1999. Hailstork’s Violin Concerto had its première in November 2004 with the Berkshire Symphony, and Mark Peskanov as soloist. His cantata Crispus Attucks was first given in October 2005, in Norfolk, Virginia. Other new commissions include Earthrise, a large scale choral work for James Conlon and the 2006 Cincinnati May Festival, Three Studies on Chant Melodies for the American Guild of Organists 2006 national convention, and We Rise for Freedom: The John P. Parker Story for the Cincinnati Opera. Whitman’s Journey had its première with the Master Chorale of Washington, DC at Kennedy Center in April 2006. Adolphus Hailstork is Professor of Music and Eminent Scholar at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.

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

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