ICA: Welcome, Adolphus Hailstork, we’re very happy to have you as our first composer-of-the-month!
AH: Thanks. Glad to participate.
ICA: Tell us a bit about the featured composition, Three Smiles for Tracey.
AH: Tracey Brown was a student at Norfolk State University who always greeted folks with a big smile. She asked if I would write a piece for her senior graduation concert, and I wrote Three Smiles for Tracey. It is a fun toss off. I’m amazed how popular it has gotten among clarinetists!
ICA: What other works have you written for clarinet?
AH: The Blue Bag (for Anthony McGill)
A Simple Caprice (for F. Gerard Errante)
Two Novelettes for Clarinet and Cello
ICA: Tell us a bit about yourself
AH: I received my doctorate in composition from Michigan State University, where I was a student of H. Owen Reed. I 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. I have written numerous works for chorus, solo voice, piano, organ, various chamber ensembles, band, orchestra, and opera. (Full bio here.)
ICA: How would you describe your music?
AH: Eclectic; a blend between standard Euro-American writing and Afro-American materials.
ICA: What are some of the important influences on your work?
AH: Extra-musical: the difficulties of African-Americans in the United States. Musically, many things…
ICA: What do you like about writing for clarinet in particular?
AH: Different ranges provide different colors and agility! Plus classical neatness and blues!
ICA: What is your composing process like? Do you have a regular routine/time of day you like to work? What tools do you use to compose?
AH: I use paper and pencil, with occasional computer (Finale software). I usually write in the morning for 2-3 hours.
ICA: How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted your work?
AH: More time to write.
ICA: There has been a lot of discussion in the classical music world recently about confronting systemic racism and increasing diversity and opportunity within the classical music establishment. What thoughts do you have on this? Do you think things will actually change this time around?
AH: Things will change for a while, but then may slide back to ignoring Black composers. Let us hope not.
ICA: Tell us about a current compositional project you’re excited about.
AH: I’m working on a choral piece, and a piano-and-orchestra piece. And I’m finishing up a George Floyd Cantata and Symphony No. 4.
ICA: What other musical activities/projects are important to you, beyond composing?
AH: Rehearsals, learning more.
ICA: What non-musical activities do you enjoy?
AH: Cooking, traveling, reading.
ICA: If you weren’t a musician, what would you be?
AH: There was never another option. 🙂
ICA: Where can people learn more about / hear / buy your music?
AH: Google, YouTube, Theodore Presser Music, Sheet Music Plus.
ICA: Thanks for taking the time to share your work with us! We really appreciate it!
AH: A pleasure. Truly appreciate the interest.