Release Date: November 18, 2016
Catalog #: NV6062
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
Solo Instrumental
String Quartet


Michael K. Slayton composer

With his new album SURSUM, composer Michael Slayton presents six compelling compositions, each performed by a different ensemble or solo performer. Despite the album’s varied & esteemed assemblage of performers, there lies a common thread throughout in both the form of Slayton’s distinguished composing style – dreamy but focused, and equal parts smooth and dissonant – as well as the imagery that the music conjures.

Slayton, a talented chamber music composer and Associate Professor of Composition and Theory at Vanderbilt University’s Blair School of Music, has amassed a wide spectrum of players for his most recent endeavor. Yarn/Wire, an imaginative quartet made up of two pianos and two percussionists, performs the opening track of Fantasy and Fugue for Two Pianos & Percussion: Hommage Á Bartok. The operatic Le Soir Tombe is performed by soprano Amy Jarman with Melissa Rose and Jerome Reed on piano four-hand and is the album’s only vocal performance. The title track Sursum, commissioned by the Kreutzer Quartet, rises ever upward, twisting and whirling toward a consciousness of “the things that make a difference.” Evan Mack’s solo piano on Sonate ‘Droyßig’ is the album’s centerpiece – a 22-minute sprawling & angular work that evokes a somewhat heart-wrenching mood before taking flight. Sechs Miniaturen Für Das Meer (Six Miniatures for the Sea) is a fanciful rhythmic journey punctuated by Joshua & Jennifer McGuire on guitar and piano, respectively, its six parts representing scenes from a day in the life of sitting and watching the sea. The album concludes with the stirring staccato climax of Dreamers’ Meadows, performed by The Atlantic Ensemble.

The diverse performers and instrumentation only add to the character of Slayton’s distinct writing approach. Each piece is particularly rich with vivid imagery – another key element that defines the album. Slayton makes a point of highlighting this, as the album’s liner notes are sprinkled with tidbits about particular places each piece was composed – for example, Sonate ‘Droyßig’ bears the name of the small village in which the composition was born, while Dreamers’ Meadows invokes the spirit of a series of bucolic hiking trails in the mountains of West Virginia. Each listener is sure to create his or her own individual array of imagery when immersing one’s self into the quixotic world of Michael Slayton’s SURSUM.


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Artist Information

Michael K. Slayton


Michael K. Slayton is an American composer who has written works in a cross-section of musical genres, with specific emphasis on chamber music. His continuing dedication to the value of artistic exchange has afforded him opportunity to partner with distinguished performers all over the world. His music, published by ACA, Inc. (BMI), is regularly programmed in the U.S. and abroad, including Chemnitz, Seitz, Leipzig, Droyssig, and Weimar, Germany; Graz, Austria; Paris,Tours, and Marquette-lez-Lille, France; Kristiansund, Norway; Aviero, Portugal; Brussles, Belgium; Johannesburg and Potchefstroom, South Africa; London, UK; and New York, NY.