Composer MICHAEL KUREK once said that his album THE SEA KNOWS would hit 100,000 streams on Spotify “when pigs fly.” Pigs have flown and more with the Nashville native’s release, which came out in July 2017 under Navona Records. THE SEA KNOWS hit 100,000 streams and beyond, and rose to the #1 spot on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Albums list–for two weeks.

Michael had not released an album for 10 years when he came to PARMA Recordings to release THE SEA KNOWS under the Navona Records label. Having been teaching and serving full-time as the Chair of the Department of Music Composition at Vanderbilt University, Kurek was now fitting in time to let his own work shine once again. THE SEA KNOWS is a rich, contemplative collection of works inspired by Michael’s experiences by the ocean. As Michael describes, “I have always believed that classical music could still be written as it was by the early 20th-century melodists—with full integrity of classical craft, yet lovable by people far outside the ivory tower.”

Each performer on the album delivered the intended feeling of the album with precision. Serenade was performed by harpist Rita Costanzi and cellist Ovidiu Marinescu, leader of Trio Casals, the featured ensemble in PARMA’s compilation series MOTO that procures an album and Carnegie Hall performance for every installment. Other performers included acclaimed harpist Soledad Yaya and The Vanderbilt Strings, an ensemble Michael was obviously already well-acquainted with.

THE SEA KNOWS was released July 14th, 2017. By July 18th, Michael’s album took an astounding leap through Billboards’ charts and settled in at the #1 spot for “Traditional Classical Albums”, where it remained seated comfortably for two weeks. In second place? An album of Bach trios featuring Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer, released by Warner Bros. THE SEA KNOWS also reached #4 on the “Classical Albums,” topped only by Celtic Women, Lindsey Stirling, and Elvis Presley with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Within two weeks, THE SEA KNOWS had already been streamed 28,000 times on Spotify–which, as a radio host pointed out to Michael, was the equivalent of filling Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena


“Bright melodic lines, dreamy, a wash of fantastic colors…a nearly subliminal sheen of magic, graceful, haunting, and emotionally dramatic, it brings to light a melodic poetry inherent in all of Kurek’s work.”

— American Record Guide

“Moon Canticle, for harp, has a mystical quality that truly evokes a quiet summer night, over which the moon holds sway with its magical glow. This lovely work could be considered a twenty-first century “Clair de lune,” and it is brilliantly performed by Argentinian harpist Soledad Yaya. As a composer, Michael Kurek has sought to infuse his music with beauty, truth, and goodness; his quest has been worthwhile and the results tangible.”

— Saint Austin Review

“A career that, if present indications hold, will leave him as successful in his field as any musician or songwriter in Nashville.”

— Nashville Scene

“My goal as a classical composer for the concert hall is, most simply stated, to write music that I myself would want to hear if I was sitting in the audience or listening to classical radio in the car or at home. That means it must be true to my own genuine listening habits and tastes, not be in some separate “composing” compartment of my mind or academic research compartment. In so saying, I do recognize that other composers may genuinely believe in a mission to write music intended primarily for just one or two live performances in the concert hall, or music for aficionados of music too demanding, experimental, or inaccessible for the vast majority of people. That is simply not my own mission.”

— Michael Kurek on his musical philosophy