What are some of the most universal songs you can think of? You know – songs that most people know the lyrics to, or have at least heard sung somewhere before? There are a few that I can think of, personally, but there’s one in particular that’s really become known among most. It’s even been arranged for orchestra. Hi there – I’m Loki Karuna, and on this edition of NoteWorthy you and I are gonna revisit a well known tune that’s made its way into the orchestral repertoire, thanks to a composer named Adolphus Hailstork.

Adolphus hails from the state of New York, but he’s spent most of his career in Virginia, where he was named a Cultural Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia back in 1992. He career as a composer is unique, in part, due to the focus he’s put on the celebration of Black history and American folk tradition. In 2005, he arranged a collection of three spirituals to celebrate the reopening of the Crispus Attucks Theater in Norfolk, Virginia. This well known tune is the second of those three spirituals – one that I’m sure you know: Kum Ba Yah.

Adolphus Hailstork’s catalogue goes well beyond the orchestral spirituals, with choral works, chamber pieces, and even band compositions earning him awards since the 70s. His impact is almost as universal as some of the music he’s arranged, making him one of history’s most NoteWorthy .

Noteworthy is a production of WDAV classical public radio.

Pictured: Adolphus Hailstork by SamuelCFTP – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.