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Adolphus Hailstork of Virginia Beach, a professor of music, composer-in-residence and eminent scholar at Old Dominion University, received an honorary degree at Michigan State University commencement ceremonies Dec. 10-11.

A 1971 composition graduate of Michigan State University, Hailstork will receive an honorary doctor of fine arts.

Hailstork is among the most prominent and prolific living African-American composers. He has an international reputation as a composer of numerous symphonic works, operas, concertos, chamber ensemble works, duos, pieces for winds and organ, and solo works for piano. His early compositions include "Celebration," recorded by the Detroit Symphony in 1976, and "American Guernica" in 1983.

His compositions have been prominently featured by many leading orchestras in the United States, including the Detroit, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Chicago symphonies, the Grand Rapids Symphony and the New York Philharmonic. His compositions are described as rich documentations that portray various aspects of American life, including the African-American experience.

Current commissions include a consortium commission for a "Violin Concerto," "Crispus Attucks," and a new large-scale choral work for James Conlon and the 2005 Cincinnati May Festival. He also is working on commissioned works for the American Guild of Organists and the Houston Choral Society.

Hailstork, who began his musical career at an early age with the encouragement of his mother while the family was living in New York, has received numerous awards for his work, including the Virginia Cultural Laureate Award in 1992, the Outstanding Faculty Award in Virginia in 1994 and the Governor's Award for the Arts in 2000.

He served in the U.S. Armed Forces in Germany from 1966-68. He received his doctorate at MSU in 1971 under the direction of H. Owen Reed. His career as a teacher includes a graduate assistantship at MSU and professorships at Youngstown State University, Norfolk State University and Old Dominion University.

Hailstork served more than 20 years on the faculty at Norfolk State University.

This article was posted on: December 6, 2004

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