Escher String Quartet showcases work of student Michael van der Sloot

Escher
Members of the Escher String Quarter, left to right: Aaron Boyd, violin; Pierre Lapointe, viola; Adam Barnett-Hart, violin; and Brook Speltz, cello.

The internationally acclaimed Escher String Quartet is set to perform two free concerts, open to the public, at SMU. This will be the second program of their 2015-2016 Meadows residency. This group has previously performed at New York’s Lincoln Center, London’s Wigmore Hall and Berlin’s Piano Salon Christophori. Now, they’ll perform at  Caruth Auditorium on March 17 and at O’Donnell Hall on March 18, both at 7:30 p.m.

The concert on March 17 will showcase three pieces, most notably the world premiere of Night Music, composed by Meadows Master of Music degree candidate Michael van der Sloot. Van der Sloot, who studies composition and is also a talented cellist, he has written works for the Calgary Youth Orchestra and Grammy-winning violinist and SMU Meadows Artist-in-Residence Matt Albert, among others.

Michael
Michael van der Sloot (M.M. Composition ’17)

Van der Sloot describes the piece as “pretty creepy and restless.”

“It’s like when you’re lying completely still in bed, wide awake because you know there is a monster in the closet. There’s a little bit of anxiety and anticipation,” he says.

His piece was chosen among submissions from multiple other music composition students. “The atmosphere and the title of the work were a compelling fit for our program, which deals with death, either through direct personal experience as in Benjamin Britten’s Quartet No. 3, or indirectly as in Franz Shubert’s Death and the Maiden,” says Aaron Boyd, one of two violinists in the Escher String Quartet. “We were struck by the quality of all of the composers’ submissions, but van der Sloot’s work was an impressive combination of  aleatoric freedom with real textural and timbral beauty.”

The quartet will also hold workshops and classes as part of their residency. One workshop will be a particularly immersive experience for the students and will culminate in the formation of the March 18 concert. This side-by-side concert with the quartet and music students of the Meadows school will include works by Brahms, Dvorak, Shostakovich, and Haydn.