Adolphus Hailstork 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.
Dr. Hailstork 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; OUT OF THE DEPTHS (1977), and AMERICAN GUERNICA (1983), are two band works which won national competitions. CONSORT PIECE (1995) commissioned by the Norfolk (Va.) 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 Maezel, Jo Ann Falletta and David Lockington. This March, Thomas Wilkins 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. Hailstork’s second and third symphonies were recorded by the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra (David Lockington) and were released by Naxos. Another Naxos recording, AN AMERICAN PORT OF CALL (Virginia Symphony Orchestra) was released in spring 2012.
Recent 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 (re: 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 (Beverly Everett, conductor) in honor of (and featuring the words of) President John F. Kennedy was premiered in November of 2013.
Hailstork's newest 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 May 2018) and STILL HOLDING ON (February 2019) an orchestra work commissioned and premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He is currently working on his Fourth Symphony, and A KNEE ON A NECK (tribute to George Floyd) for chorus and orchestra.
Dr. Hailstork resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is Professor of Music and Eminent Scholar at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.