During a live socially-distanced chamber music performance at the Washington Lake Park Amphitheater in Sewell, NJ, a string quartet of ASO members performed these two works by living composers Adolphus Hailstork and Jessie Montgomery in a program curated by ASO violinist Philip Payton to celebrate and explore the significant contributions to classical music by Black composers.
Adolphus Hailstork is a professor of music and eminent scholar at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. His rendition of We Shall Overcome is the first movement in his Three Spirituals for string quartet (2012). Born in Rochester, New York in 1941, Hailstork has contributed a large body of unique work for well over fifty years including symphonic, chamber, and choral music.
Originally, a prelude for organ, written in style of Bach for fun, I have always believed the melody of “We Shall Overcome” is one of classic nobility, a favorite piece of mine.—Adolphus Hailstork
Voodoo Dolls, written in 2008 by Jesse Montgomery, incorporates African drumming patterns common to West Africa and found in many traditional ceremonial practices. Be sure to listen at the beginning and end of the piece for the extended techniques used by the musicians such as stomping and tapping on their instruments.
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Three Spirituals for string quartet
I. We Shall Overcome
Voodoo Dolls for string quartet
Cyrus Beroukhim, concertmaster
Philip Payton, violin
William Frampton, principal viola
Alberto Parrini, cello