On his Navona release INFINITE LANDSCAPES, composer Elliott Miles McKinley presents Three Portraits and his String Quartet No. 7 – two adventurous works commissioned by renowned chamber ensembles.


Three Portraits was commissioned by the San Antonio Texas based SOLI Chamber Ensemble and is scored for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano. In A July Watercolor (with high energy) McKinley weaves together two recurring ostinato themes, one ascending and one descending, as other instruments play trills and cluster chords. An August Watercolor (Reggae-Pop), arranged in a palindromic arch form, has a more pastiche style, with Ivesian treatments of pop-ballad and reggae styles. In A September Watercolor (Groove Variations) a lively electronic groove is played as the acoustic instruments seek to move away from a rhythmic stasis, before eventually exploding into an animated groove of their own. The piece ends with a playful Bartók pizzicato in the violin and cello.


McKinley’s six-movement String Quartet No. 7 was commissioned by the Martinů Quartet of the Czech Republic and written in memory of the quartet’s founding violist, Jan Jisa. This vibrant piece features a wide variety of ideas, including a fugue in Scherzo and Fugue and a propulsive jazzy section in Riding into the Sky. The work is anchored, however, by recurring chords of stacked perfect fifths, heard first as a distinctive motive in the expansive Cathedrals of Light and Shadow. In Three Vistas, an expressive quasi-recitative passage in the cello builds up to shimmering towers of stacked fifths. The “Cathedrals” motive returns in the final movement Coda: Toward An Endless Golden Sunset, leading to a passage marked enveloping twilight of golden-purple before fading away into the infinite landscape.




McKinley holds a Bachelor of Music degree in jazz studies from New England Conservatory, a Master of Music in composition from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D in composition from the University of Minnesota. He has studied under John McNeil in jazz studies, and composers Malcolm Peyton, Alex Lubet, Doug Geers, David Gompper, George Wilson, Michael Daugherty, and William Bolcom


McKinley has served as Assistant Professor of Music and Music Program Coordinator at Indiana University East, and has held positions in composition and theory at Washington and Lee University and the University of Tennessee School of Music. He is currently Assistant Professor of Music Composition, Theory, and Music Technology at Roger Williams University


McKinley has fulfilled a composer residency at InverHills College and a fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He has received a BMI Student Composer Award and grants from Meet the Composer, the American Music Center, and the American Composers Forum, as well as grants from Indiana University. He won the Indiana State University Contemporary Music Festival’s MusicNow competition in 2012 with his percussion concerto, Four Grooves


McKinley has received commissions from ensembles such as the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Music Society, the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, Estrella Consort, Mirari Brass Quintet, and the Duquesne University Contemporary Ensemble. His orchestral works have been performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, the Warsaw Philharmonic, and the Czech Radio Symphony, and his music has been featured at international festivals including the Alba International Music Festival in Italy, the BGSU Contemporary Music Festival, the Ernest Bloch Music Festival, and the University of Minnesota SPARK Festival


McKinley is a founding member of earWorm, an improvisationally driven electroacoustic quartet of composer-performers that commits to performing all of its music live to create an immediate and immersive experience for the listener


McKinley’s Quartets 4, 5, and 6 with the Martinu Quartet can be heard on STRING QUARTETS (NV5855), available on Navona Records







Release Date: May 13, 2016

Catalog #: NV6040





Three Portraits (2012)

SOLI Chamber Ensemble

Stephanie Key, clarinet; David Mollenauer, cello; Ertan Torgul, violin;

Carolyn True, piano

1 I. July Watercolor (Warm and Breezy, = 104)

2 II. August Watercolor (Reggae-Pop, = 60)

3 III. September Watercolor (Groove Variations, = 112)


String Quartet No. 7 (2013)

Martinů Quartet

Lubomír Havlák, violin I; Libor Kaňka, violin II; Zbyněk Paďourek, viola;

Jitka Vlašánková, cello

 4 I. Cathedrals of Light and Shadow ( = 120)

 5 II. Scherzo and Fugue ( = 72)

 6 III. Three Vistas ( = 45)

 7 IV. A Little Dance ( = 120)

 8 V. Riding Into The Sky ( = 180)

 9 VI. Coda: Toward An Endless Golden Sunset ( = 120)




String Quartet No. 7

recorded May 29 and 30, 2014

at Czech Academy of Music Recording Studios,

in Prague, Czech Republic

Session Engineer  Aleš Dvořák

Session Producer  Markéta Janáčková

Mixing and Editing  Elliott Miles McKinley


Three Portraits

recorded on October 14 and 15, 2012

at TNT Productions in Louisville KY

Session Engineer  Timothy Haertel

Session Producer Eric Stem

Mixing and Editing Timothy Haertel


Executive Producer  Bob Lord

Audio Director  Jeff LeRoy

Production Engineer  Nate Hunter

Mastering  Shaun Michaud

Art & Production Director  Brett Picknell

Graphic Designers  Ryan Harrison

A&R  Alex Bourne

Marketing Specialist  Morgan MacLeod


The recording of Three Portraits is made available on this disc courtesy of New Dynamic Records.



The recording of String Quartet No. 7 was made possible in part from the very generous support of donors through a successful 2014 Kickstarter campaign. In addition, I would like to give a very special thank you to the following persons: Todd and Wendy Hamm, Dr. Stephen Zins, Steve Layton, and Jory McKinley.


Production of this album was made possible by a 2015 Roger Williams University Foundation to Promote Research and Teaching grant.





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