Adolphus Hailstork: An American Port of Call
Virginia Symphony Orchestra
JoAnn Falletta, conductor
American composer Adolphus Hailstork has been quietly building up an
impressive catalog of well-crafted works. This new collection brings
some of them to light.
Hailstork's Symphony No. 1 is an expansive work with plenty of
energy. Hailstork's melodies are always tuneful and rhythmic, which
makes this symphony sparkle. For the most part, the work's thinly
orchestrated. In some ways it's more of a symphony of small instrumental
groups rather than a big ensemble.
Whtiman's Journey is a large-scale work for orchestra and chorus.
Whitman's a quintessentially American poet, and Hailstork's open,
Coplanesque composition brings out that aspect of poetry. It's a warm,
elegiac work that's a satisfying blend of words and music.
An American Port of Call shares some characteristics of William Walton's Portsmouith Point.
both are short orchestral works depicting a busy seaport. Hailstork's
composition has all the energy of a bustling waterfront, with different
musical themes moving back and forth in crosscurrents. A splendid
Hailstork draws on his African-American heritage for Three Spirituals.
Although there's some jazz inflections in this work, Three Spirituals
is first and foremost a concert piece for orchestra. The melodies may be
familiar, but Hailstork develops them in interesting ways that, while
symphonic in nature, remain true to the character of the source
Fanfare on Amazing Grace is an imaginative treatment of this
well-known (and perhaps over-performed hymn). The tune provides the
starting point from which he builds a superstructure of original
material, that reveals new insights about this melody.
Adolphus Hailstork lives in eastern Virginia. The Virginia Symphony, is a
hometown ensemble, well familiar with Hailstork's music. Under the
direction of JoAnn Falletta, this regional orchestra turns in credible
performances. Sometimes the ensemble playing isn't as precise as it
needs to be, but that's a minor quibble. It's a joy simply to hear these