Adolphus Hailstork

Composer and College Professor Adolphus Cunningham Hailstork, born April 17th, 1941 in Rochester, New York, began his musical studies with piano lessons as a child. He studied at Howard University (B.Mus., 1963) and Manhattan School of Music (B.Mus. in Composition, 1965, M.Mus. in Composition, 1966), spending the summer of 1963 at the American Institute at Fontainebleau, France. After service in the U.S. Armed Forces in Germany (1966-1968), he returned to the United States and pursued his doctorate degree at Michigan State University in Lansing (Ph.D., 1971). 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.

Dr. Hailstork began writing music at an early age. His musical-comedy, The Race for Space, was performed at Howard University during his senior year in college (1963), and his master’s thesis, Statement, Variations and Fugue, was performed by the Baltimore Symphony in 1966. Hailstork writes in a variety of forms and styles: symphonic works and tone poems for orchestra; a piano concerto; numerous chamber works; duos for such combinations as horn and piano, clarinet and piano, flute and piano, and others; a large number of songs including songs for soprano, baritone, mezzo-soprano, some with piano and others with orchestra or chamber group; band works and band transcriptions, and many pieces for piano.

Among his compositions are Celebration, which, in 1976, was recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Out of the Depths, which won the 1977 Belwin-Mills Max Winkler Award presented by the Band Directors National Association; American Guernica, awarded first prize in a national contest sponsored by the Virginia College Band Directors in 1983; and Mourn Not the Dead which received the 1971 Ernest Bloch Award for choral composition. In 1995, the chamber work, Consort Piece, was awarded First Prize by the University of Delaware Festival of Contemporary Music.

In 1990, a consortium of five orchestras commissioned a piano concerto which was premiered by Leon Bates in 1992. In addition, Dr. Hailstork was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music to write Festival Music for the Baltimore Symphony. Other significant performances by major orchestras (Philadelphia, Chicago and New York) have been led by leading conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Daniel Barenboim and Kurt Masur. In 1999, the composer’s second symphony (commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra), and his second opera, Joshua’s Boots (commissioned by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the Kansas City Lyric Opera), were premiered. In 2002, James Conlon conducted Hailstork’s oratorio Done Made My Vow at the renowned Cincinnati May Festival. During the summer of 2003, Dr. Hailstork was Visiting Artist at the Walden School for young composers. A CD of Hailstork’s Symphonies No. 2 and 3, recorded by David Lockington with the Grand Rapids Symphony, will be released during the 2004-2005 season.

In 1992, Dr. Hailstork was proclaimed a Cultural Laureate of the State of Virginia.

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