Composer Adolphus Hailstork to write requiem cantata for George Floyd

Posted on: June 25, 2020

“Adolphus Hailstork (born 1941) is only getting better with age,” writes Michael Zwiebach in Tuesday’s (6/23) San Francisco Classical Voice. “The premiere of Still Holding On, commissioned and performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic in February 2019, was well received, with conductor Thomas Wilkins calling him ‘the dean of African American composers’ (a reference to William Grant Still, the subject of the piece).… The composer has just begun a requiem cantata for George Floyd, A Knee on the Neck…. That major work … is just one of a large number of compositions that reflect his engagement with black history… ‘There are lots [of black composers] out there,’ says Hailstork. ‘They just don’t get the chance to be performed…. We need artistic administrators and conductors and performers to be interested…. They have actually have to research…. And … the tools are on the internet. There’s AfriClassical website; type in the words ‘African American composers’ on Google, and all kinds of stuff pops up. But they have to be interested. They have to care.” Discussing his 60-year career, Hailstork speaks about artistic influences, his scores, and how orchestras are beginning to make more room for Black performers and composers.