Described by American Record Guide as “…a composer whose heart and care are palpable… who has a voice that deserves to be heard often” and by the Baltimore Sun as having “a refined sense of melodic arcs and harmonic motion,” Peter Dayton’s compositions have been performed across North America and in Europe. Dayton holds a Bachelor’s Degree (summa cum laude) from Vanderbilt University and a Master’s Degree in Composition from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. At Peabody he was the winner of the Macht and Gustav Klem Composition Awards.
Dayton’s creative output is directly shaped by his relationships and life experiences. Many of his works use visual art or poetry as the spark for an artistic response. His works responding to contemporary painters have generated friendships and connections across the globe, from England to Peru. Current projects include a tribute to the late Peruvian painter Fernando de Szyszlo for accordion and guitar quartet and an album of Dayton’s compositions inspired by the paintings of British artist John Hitchens, the latter releasing in conjunction with the artist’s 80th retrospective in April, 2020.
Dayton’s passion for literature has resulted in over a dozen settings of poems in art songs and choral works, focusing on 20th-century and contemporary poetry. In addition to his settings of modern American poets, Dayton wrote the libretto for his own chamber opera May She | She May about the poet Gertrude Stein’s first love affair.
His “interesting and promising debut” (Whole Note) album of chamber music, NOTES TO LOVED ONES, presents pieces for piano and strings that “practically hum with the intensity of love and life, and they are presented in sequence in a way that makes the process of listening to them feel like looking through a beautiful photo album” (American Record Guide). Selections of Dayton’s orchestral and choral music are available on compilation albums released by Ablaze Records. These works include Daytons From Sombre Lands, after a painting by John Hitchens, and selections from the ongoing An American Mass cycle of choral settings of modern American poetry.
An involved member of local, national, and international musical communities, Dayton has studied in England and Sweden, taken part in festivals and conferences in Louisiana, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Italy, and Spain, organized concerts of his work in Ohio, Tennessee, and Maryland, and exhibited his music at the Violin Society of America, Chamber Music America, and American Choral Directors Association conventions. Dayton was selected as a Composer Fellow for the Intimacy of Creativity Conference in Hong Kong in April, 2019.