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Adolphus Hailstork: "American Guernica"

 

American Guernica

Adolphus Hailstork

Born: April 17, 1941, Rochester, New York

Composed: 1982

Duration: 7 minutes

University of Maryland Wind Ensemble

"Strike Up The Bands"

Friday, March 10, 2017, 8 pm

Elsie & Marvin Dekelboum Concert Hall

Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

The University of Maryland at College Park

 

American Guernica was written in remembrance of the September 15, 1963 fire-bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, a racially-motivated bombing that killed four young girls attending Sunday school (Carol Robertson, 14, Addie Mae Collins, 14, Cynthia Wesley, 14, and Denise McNair, 11), and injured twenty-two others. The work’s title refers to the famous mural by painter Pablo Picasso, which depicts the bombing of the Basque village Guernica by Nazi German and Fascist Italian warplanes on April 26, 1937, a tragic slaughter of mainly women and children. Hailstork’s score employs spatial notation and extended techniques to recount the bombing, outrage, and aftermath of the American tragedy.

 

The following is an excerpt from the eulogy delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the funeral service for Addie Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, and Cynthia Diane Wesley:

 

"These children-unoffending, innocent, and beautiful-were the victims of one of the most vicious and tragic crimes ever perpetrated against humanity. And yet they died nobly. They are the martyred heroines of a holy crusade for freedom and human dignity. And so this afternoon in a real sense they have something to say to each of us in their death. They have something to say to every minister of the gospel who has remained silent behind the safe security of stained-glass windows. They have something to say to every politician who has fed his constituents with the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism. They have something to say to a federal government that has compromised with the undemocratic practices of southern Dixiecrats and the blatant hypocrisy of right-wing northern Republicans. They have something to say to every Negro who has passively accepted the evil system of segregation and who has stood on the sidelines in a mighty struggle for justice. They say to each of us, black and white alike, that we must substitute courage for caution. They say to us that we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers. Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American dream."

 

The entire eulogy can be found here.

 

Link to performance recording

 

Additional Resources:

- Hailstork Biography (Old Dominion University)

- Picasso's Guernica (Wikipedia)

- 16th Street Baptist Church (Wikipedia)

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September 10, 2018

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