Solo Performance Spotlight

Saturday May 22, 2021 at 7:30pm PT
Sunday May 23, 2021 at 5:00pm PT

Candace Johnson’s Musical Series

The Art Songs of Black Composers

Act I:
Music to My Ears – Hearing Adolphus Hailstork

with Marc Shapiro, piano

A new solo performance musical series that shines a light on the art songs and lives of Black Composers

Immediately followed by a Q&A with
Founder/Artistic Director Stephanie Weisman

In her new solo performance musical series, soprano and actress Candace Johnson shines a light on the art songs and lives of Black American composers. Much of the African American art song literature is not widely heard, though it has been a part of the classical music canon since the late 19th century. Through song and theatrical storytelling, Candace puts the life and music of Black composers on display.

The first installment, “Music to My Ears – Hearing Adolphus Hailstork” centers on the song cycle Ventriloquist Acts of God. As the songs are unpacked in a university music class, a professor and her students discuss how to hear the music – and each other – in a whole new way. 

Sneak Peak


About the Performers

Praised by Opera Wire for her vocal clarity, dramatic presence, and expressive interpretation, soprano Candace Johnson, has concertized widely, including guest appearances at Carnegie Hall and The Manhattan Center. In 2018, Johnson premiered her one-woman show, VOX in a BOX at UC Berkeleyfollowed by a 2019 “Marsh Rising” performance. The show is a musical biography of how she uniquely fused her black music heritage and classical training to find her “voice”. On the music faculty at UC Berkeley, Johnson teaches voice classes and specializes in the research and performance of classical works by African-American composers. Johnson earned her doctorate in voice performance from the University of Michigan. 

Pianist Marc Shapiro is an acting member of the San Francisco Symphony, with whom he has toured the United States, Europe, and Asia. As featured soloist with the orchestra he has performed Stravinsky’s Les Noces, Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals, Frank Martin’s Petite Symphonie Concertante, and James P. Johnson’s Yamekraw. He is also Principal Keyboardist with the California Symphony, Berkeley Symphony,  and for twenty years was the San Francisco Symphony Chorus accompanist. Mr. Shapiro has partnered with such distinguished soloists as John Mack, Timothy Day, David Wilson-Johnson, Geraldine Walther, William Bennett and The Martha Graham Dance Company. He can be heard on the soundtracks of Mars Attacks, House of Yes and Hellboy, and has recorded with the heavy metal group Metallica. He has appeared on four continents as solo pianist for the touring orchestra concert “Bugs Bunny at the Symphony.”  Marc is a frequent performer for Composer’s Inc., Chamber Music Sundae, San Francisco Symphony Chamber Music Series, Sierra Chamber Music Society, and Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego. Mr. Shapiro received his bachelors and masters of music from The Peabody Conservatory of Music, and has recorded for Cantilena, New Albion, Music and Art, Delos, Argo, SarnWorks, Albany Records and Lapis Island Records.

About the Composer

Adolphus Hailstork received his doctorate in composition from Michigan State University, where he was a student of H. Owen Reed.  He 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.
Dr. Hailstork has written numerous works for chorus, solo voice, piano, organ, various chamber ensembles, band, orchestra, and opera.

Among his early compositions are: CELEBRATION, recorded by the Detroit Symphony in 1976;  OUT OF THE DEPTHS (1977), and AMERICAN GUERNICA (1983), are two band works which won national competitions. CONSORT PIECE (1995) commissioned by the Norfolk (Va.) Chamber Ensemble, was awarded first prize by the University of Delaware Festival of Contemporary Music.

Significant performances by major orchestras (Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York) have been led by leading conductors such as James de Priest, Paul Freeman, Daniel Barenboim, Kurt Masur, Lorin Maezel, Jo Ann Falletta and David Lockington. This March, Thomas Wilkins conducted Hailstork’s AN AMERICAN PORT OF CALL with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The composer’s second symphony (commissioned by the Detroit Symphony, and second opera, JOSHUA’S BOOTS (commissioned by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the Kansas City Lyric Opera) were both premiered in 1999.  Hailstork’s second and third symphonies were recorded by the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra (David Lockington)  and were released by Naxos.  Another Naxos recording, AN AMERICAN PORT OF CALL (Virginia Symphony Orchestra) was released in spring 2012.

Recent commissions include RISE FOR FREEDOM, an opera about the Underground Railroad, premiered in the fall of 2007 by the Cincinnati Opera Company, SET ME ON A ROCK (re: Hurricane Katrina), for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by the Houston Choral Society (2008), and the choral ballet, THE GIFT OF THE MAGI, for treble chorus and orchestra, (2009). In the fall of 2011, ZORA, WE’RE CALLING YOU, a work for speaker and orchestra was premiered by the Orlando Symphony. I SPEAK OF PEACE commissioned by the Bismarck Symphony (Beverly Everett, conductor) in honor of (and featuring the words of) President John F. Kennedy was premiered in November of 2013.

Hailstork’s newest works include THE WORLD CALLED (based on Rita Dove’s poem TESTIMONIAL), a work for soprano, chorus and orchestra commissioned by the Oratorio Society of Virginia (premiered in May 2018) and STILL HOLDING ON (February 2019) an orchestra work commissioned and premiered by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He is currently working on his Fourth Symphony, and A KNEE ON A NECK (tribute to George Floyd) for chorus and orchestra.

Dr. Hailstork resides in Virginia Beach Virginia, and is Professor of Music and Eminent Scholar at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.    Visit    


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