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.M. 1963) and Manhattan School of Music (B.M. in Composition, 1965, M.M. 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. 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).
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. After his terminal degree, some of his more celebrated compositions were Celebration, recorded by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, (1976); Out of the Depths, which won the 1977 Belwin-Mills Max Winkler Award; Guernica, awarded first prize sponsored by the Virginia College Band Directors in 1983; and Consort Piece, (1995),was awarded First Prize by the University of the 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. A CD of Hailstork’s Symphonies No. 2 and 3, recorded by David Lockington with the Grand Rapids Symphony, was released during the 2004-2005 season. Dr. Hailstork is currently Eminent Scholar and Professor of Music at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.