The Harlem Chamber Players Releases Debut Album
In its first-ever commercial digital album, the chamber group celebrates works by award-winning composer Adolphus Hailstork
Founded by Liz Player in 2008, The Harlem Chamber Players is an ethnically diverse ensemble sharing classical music in and out of Harlem, New York, that also creates opportunities for classically trained musicians of color. They have performed at Carnegie Hall, Aaron Davis Hall, the Apollo Theater, and Merkin Concert Hall.
Having commissioned and premiered the work of Adolphus Hailstork for four years, the ensemble’s new album “The Harlem Chamber Players Perform Music by Adolphus Hailstork,” comprises Hailstork’s Nobody Know, Piano Quintet “Detroit,” and Songs of the Magi.
Written to commemorate 1619 — the year the first enslaved black people arrived in America — Nobody Know received its world premiere as part of the 11th Annual Black History Month Celebration at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in 2019.
“Nobody Know is a concert aria based on a text by Herbert Martin, American poet based in Dayton, Ohio,” Hailstork said of the work. “It was commissioned by The Harlem Chamber Players to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the importation of the first black slaves to America,” he continued. “The piece depicts a ‘song from the other cross,’ a viewpoint of one of the thieves crucified with Christ on Good Friday, the thief who spoke to Christ.”
An homage to Detroit, where Hailstork received many pivotal early career opportunities including the commissioning of his second symphony by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Piano Quintet “Detroit” is also a tribute to his mentor Brazeal Dennard — its final movement is dedicated to his memory. The final piece on the album is Songs of the Magi — one of Hailstork’s earlier works for oboe and string quartet.
This album was made with support from the Howard Gilman Foundation and The New York Community Trust, plus was produced by Carl Jackson and recorded by M.P. Kuo at Big Orange Sheep in Brooklyn in 2021.
“Dr. Adolphus Hailstork is a brilliant composer and his music should be as much a part of the regular canon of American ‘music’ as much as of Copland and Barber are,” Player stated. “It’s long overdue that this great composer gets recognized for his achievements.”
To purchase and listen to the album, click here.
Also a pianist and conductor, Hailstork has written over 250 works. He attended the Michigan State University, Manhattan School of Music, American Institute at Fontainebleau, and Howard University, and studied with mentors including H. Owen Reed, Vittorio Giannini, David Diamond, Nadia Boulanger, and Mark Fax.
He has taught at Youngstown State University and Norfolk State University, and is currently a professor and composer-in-residence at Old Dominion. His many awards include a Fulbright fellowship, two honorary doctorates, and the title of Cultural Laureate of the state of Virginia. In 2017, he was inducted into Norfolk’s Legends of Music Walk of Fame and was recently honored on his 80th birthday by WNYC at Greene Space and featured as Composer of the Week on BBC Radio 3.