Adolphus Hailstork was born in Rochester, New York, on April 17, 1941. He is an American composer and educator. He grew up in Albany, New York, where he studied violin, piano, organ, and voice.
Dr. Hailstork received a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music and a doctorate in music composition from Michigan State University in 1971, studying with H. Owen Reed. His other composition instructors include Mark Fax, Vittorio Giannini, David Diamond, and Nadia Boulanger.
Dr. Hailstork’s awards include a Fulbright fellowship (1987). In 1992 he was named a Cultural Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Old Dominion University maintains the Adolphus Hailstork Collection, in the special collections area of the F. Ludwig Diehn Composers Room, in the Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center.
Adolphus Hailstork received his doctorate in composition from Michigan State University, where he was a student of H. Owen Reed. He completed earlier studies at the Manhattan School of Music under Vittorio Giannini and David Diamond, the American Institute at Fontainebleau with Nadia Boulanger, and Howard University with Mark Fax.
Dr. Hailstork has written in a variety of genres, producing works for chorus, solo voice, piano, organ, various chamber ensembles, band, and orchestra. His early compositions include Celebration, recorded by the Detroit Symphony in 1976; and two works for band (Out of the Depths, 1977, and American Guernica, 1983), both of 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.
Dr. Hailstork’s works have been performed by such prestigious ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic, under the batons of leading conductors such as James DePreist, Daniel Barenboim, Kurt Masur, and Lorin Maazel.
1999 saw the premieres of Dr. Hailstork’s Second Symphony, commissioned by the Detroit Symphony, as well as his second opera, Joshua’s Boots, commissioned by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the Kansas City Lyric Opera. Dr. Hailstork’s second and third symphonies were recently recorded by the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, under David Lockington, on a Naxos label disc released in January 2007.
Contemporary Information on Hailstork
Recent commissions include Earthrise, a new large scale choral work premiered by James Conlon and the 2006 Cincinnati May Festival, Three Studies on Chant Melodies for the American Guild of Organists 2006 National Convention, and Whitman’s Journey, a cantata for chorus and orchestra, premiered by the Master Chorale of Washington, D.C. (under Donald McCullough) at the Kennedy Center in April 2006. Rise for Freedom, an opera about the Underground Railroad, will be premiered in the fall of 2007 by the Cincinnati Opera Company. Other premieres in the spring of 2008 were Serenade for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by Michigan State University, and Set Me on a Rock, also for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by the Houston Choral Society.
He is currently a professor of music and Composer-in-Residence at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Dr. Hailstork is of African American ancestry and his works blend musical ideas from both the African American and European traditions.
A Note on Unitarian Universalist Connections
Dr. Hailstork spent time as the music director of the Unitarian Church of Norfolk in Norfolk, VA.