From: Albany, New York. LA Opera: Four Love Songs (to be performed as part of Russell Thomas's recital on February 25, 2023)

Adolphus Hailstork (born in 1941) received his doctorate in composition from Michigan State University, where he was a student of H. Owen Reed. He had previously studied at the Manhattan School of Music under Vittorio Giannini and David Diamond, at the American Institute at Fontainebleau with Nadia Boulanger, and at Howard University with Mark Fax.

His most recent major work, the choral requiem A Knee on the Neck (a tribute to George Floyd), with text by Herbert Martin, premiered in 2022, performed by the National Philharmonic under conductor Piotr Gajewski in collaboration with the Washington Chorus, National Philharmonic Chorale and singers from Howard University, featuring soloists mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, tenor Norman Shankle and baritone Kenneth Overton. The New York Choral Society will present the New York premiere of the piece in June 2023.

He has written numerous works for chorus, solo voice, piano, organ, various chamber ensembles, band, orchestra and opera. Among his early compositions are Celebration, recorded by the Detroit Symphony in 1976;, and Out of the Depths (1977) and American Guernica (1983),  two works for band which won national competitions. Consort Piece (1995), commissioned by the Norfolk (Virginia) 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 led by leading conductors such as James de Priest, Paul Freeman, Daniel Barenboim, Kurt Masur, Lorin Maazel, JoAnn Falletta and David Lockington. Thomas Wilkins recently conducted Hailstork’s An American Port of Call with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The composer’s second symphony (commissioned by the Detroit Symphony), and second opera, Joshua's Boots (commissioned by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the Kansas City Lyric Opera) were both premiered in 1999.  His second and third symphonies were recorded by the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra (conducted by David Lockington)  and were released by Naxos. Another Naxos recording, An American Port of Call (Virginia Symphony Orchestra) was released in 2012.

Commissions include Rise for Freedom, an opera about the Underground Railroad, premiered in the fall of 2007 by the Cincinnati Opera Company; Set Me on a Rock (about Hurricane Katrina), for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by the Houston Choral Society (2008); and the choral ballet, The Gift of the Magi, for treble chorus and orchestra (2009). In the fall of 2011, Zora, We're Calling You, a work for speaker and orchestra, was premiered by the Orlando Symphony.  I Speak of Peace, commissioned by the Bismarck Symphony in honor of (and featuring the words of) President John F. Kennedy, premiered in 2013.

Hailstork’s most recent works include The World Called (based on Rita Dove’s poem Testimonial), a work for soprano, chorus and orchestra commissioned by the Oratorio Society of Virginia (premiered in 2018), and Still Holding On, an orchestra work commissioned and premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2019. 

Dr. Hailstork resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is Professor of Music and Eminent Scholar at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

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