Composer and Professor Elliott Miles McKinley Releases New CD, Finds Creative Career Integral to Teaching

With support from Navona Records and the RWU Foundation Grant, Associate Professor of Music Composition, Theory and Technology Elliott Miles McKinley Releases New CD, The Shadow Dancer, and brings his professional knowledge to the classroom

By Julia Rubin
CD cover art.

BRISTOL, R.I. – On Friday, Dec 13, Composer McKinley releases his CD, The Shadow Dancer, featuring The Janáček Trio and Auriga String Quartet and exploring the theme, memories of love. The earliest piece is the single, A Letter to Say I Love You and Goodbye for cello and piano. 

"The rest of the disc includes my 8th string quartet and my piano trio, “Shadow Dancer," recorded in Prague earlier this year," McKinley said.

Production of The Shadow Dancer was supported by Navona Records and the RWU Foundation Grant, which supports full time faculty members in pursuits related to scholarship and teaching. 

Through this grant, and RWU's Alive! Arts Series, McKinley invited The Auriga String Quartet to campus in 2018, where he recorded the first section of the CD, "String Quartet No. 8." Along with a performance, the quartet led a workshop for music students. 

Though composing and producing a CD while teaching full time, made for a busy schedule, McKinley considers his creative work to be integral to his teaching. 

"As a professional, I can bring my experience to bear in the classroom in a way that if I wasn't engaged professionally, my experience would be much less palpable to the students," McKinley said. "My career is constantly informing my teaching, in all aspects, not just as a creator but also as an entrepreneur, as I I know how to write proposals and run a recording session."

Along with the professional knowledge he shares with his students, McKinley also introduces them to established musicians, on campus, on local field trips, and even abroad. 

"Because of my career, I am able to bring musicians here who normally the students would not have contact with," McKinley said. "I'm also able to take students to concerts in Boston and introduce them to my professional friends. I run a program where I take students to Italy every year and they get to see me run a composition program as part of a festival. If I didn't have that career, I wouldn't be able to give them these opportunities."