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Michael Torke (1961-    )

Michael Torke, composerMichael Torke has emerged as a contemporary composer whose music has been received with uncharacteristic warmth by traditional classical audiences and newcomers to "serious" music alike. Torke's music is characterized by a fusion of styles that range from lush Romanticism to pop- and jazz-influenced idioms. Typically, the composer makes use of colorful timbres, minimalism-influenced repetition, and dance rhythms. A number of his works have proven especially adaptable as dance scores; a number were specifically commissioned by dance ensembles. Torke pursued formal musical studies at the Eastman School of Music, where he earned degrees in piano performance and composition; his principal teachers there included Christopher Rouse and Joseph Schwantner (composition) and David Burge (piano). His subsequent period of study with Jacob Druckman at Yale yielded two of his earliest successes, both of which demonstrate the composer's penchant for combining classical form and technique with "popular" content: Bright Blue Music (1985), commissioned by the New York Youth Orchestra, and The Yellow Pages (1985). The former was the earliest entry in an extensive series of color-themed works that eventually came to include Ecstatic Orange (1985), Green (1986), Purple (1987), Copper (1988), Red (1991), and others. Torke has explored vocal idioms in such works as Mass (1990), for baritone, chorus and chamber orchestra, and King of Hearts (1993), a television opera commissioned by the United Kingdom's Channel 4. Torke's music is sometimes described as "post-minimalist," and this characteristic is at once apparent in his Four Proverbs (1993) for female voice and instrumental ensemble. In this work he intricately blends melodic cells with series of syllables to produce a distinctively textured work based on a handful of basic ideas. Torke's Javelin (1994), commissioned by the 1994 Olympic Commission to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, has proven to be one of the composer's most popular works. One measure of Javelin's success was its simultaneous release on two different recording s-- one with Yoel Levi and the Atlanta Symphony, the other with John Williams and the Boston Pops -- in 1996, a rare distinction for a contemporary concert work. Torke was the recipient of one of the more high-profile commissions in the 1990s, a choral symphony in celebration of the new millennium commissioned by the Walt Disney Corporation. The much-acclaimed result, Four Seasons, was premiered by Kurt Masur and the New York Philharmonic on October 8, 1999; it was also prominently featured as part of the Y2K festivities at Disney's Epcot Center in Florida on New Year's Eve, 1999.
-  All Music Guide

COMPOSITIONS                                                            Torke Links     ~ ~ ~     Works by Genre    ~ ~ ~    Torke on Torke
Statement, orchestra (1979)
Two Pieces for Woodwind Trio, flute, clarinet and bassoon (pub. 1981)
Leatus, piano (1982)
Ceremony of Innocence, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1983)
Vanada, brass, keyboards and percussion (1984)
Ecstatic Orange, orchestra (1985)
The Yellow Pages, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1985)
Bright Blue Music, orchestra (1985)
    - The Harlequins Are Looking At You, violin, cello and piano (1985) [chamber version of "Bright Blue Music", 1985]
Green, orchestra (1986) [original title: "Verdant Music"]
The Directions, opera in 1 act (1986)
Purple, orchestra (1987)
Adjustable Wrench, large ensemble (1987)
Black and White, ballet (1988)
Charcoal, orchestra (1988)
Copper, brass quintet and orchestra (1988)
Ash, orchestra or chamber orchestra (1988)
Rust, piano and 11 wind instruments (1989)
Slate, concertante group [3 kybds, 2 perc - xyl/marimba] and orchestra (1989)
Mass, baritone, chorus and chamber orchestra (1990)
Bronze, piano and orchestra (1990)
Red, orchestra (1991)
Music on the Floor, chamber ensemble (1992)
Chalk, string quartet (1992)
Run, orchestra (1992)
Monday and Tuesday, chamber ensemble (1992)
Four Proverbs, female voice and ensemble (1993)
King of Hearts, opera for television (1993)
Chrome, flute and piano (1993)
Piano Concerto (1993)
Saxophone Concerto, soprano saxophone and orchestra (1993)
Bone, large mixed ensemble (1994)
Javelin, orchestra (1994)
Nylon, guitar and chamber orchestra (1994)
December, string orchestra (1995)
July, saxophone quartet (1995)
Telephone Book, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1995) ["The Yellow Pages",  1985, plus 2 new movements]
Flint, 2 pianos, saxophone quartet, cello and bass (1995)
Book of Proverbs, soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra (1996)
Sprite, flute and piano (1996)
Brick Symphony, orchestra (1997)
Overnight Mail, ensemble (1997)
Change of Address, large mixed ensemble (1997)
Pentecost, soprano, organ and string orchestra (1997) [soprano and orchesta version, 2005] [text: Bible - Acts]
Lucent Variations, orchestra (or chamber orchestra) (1998)
Jasper, orchestra (1998)
Strawberry Fields, opera in 1 act (1999)
Four Seasons, soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, chorus, children's choir and orchestra (1999) [text: Philip Littell]
Corner in Manhattan, string quartet or orchestra (2000)
Two Drinks, piano (2000)
Grand Central Station, band (2000)
Rapture, concerto for percussion and orchestra (2001)
Five Songs of Solomon, soprano and piano (2001) [text: Bible]
Song of Ezekiel, 3-part treble voices and piano (2001)
An American Abroad, orchestra (2002)
Song of Isaiah, soprano and ensemble (2002)
The Contract, evening length story ballet (2002) [choreography: James Kudelka]
    - Suite from "The Contract", orchestra (2002)
The Paradise Project, theater piece, voices and playback (2002) [lyrics: Mark Campbell]
August, brass quintet (2003)
Bliss, Variations on an Unchanging Rhythm, band (2003)
An Italian Straw Hat, ballet (2004)
    - Suite from "An Italian Straw Hat", orchestra (2003)
Four Wheel Drive, band (2004)
Two Girls on the Beach ..., woodwind quintet (2005)
After the Forest Fire, maimba, flute and cello (2005)
The Kiss, band (2006)
Heartland, orchestra (2006)
Blue Pacific, piano (2006)
Fiji, large mixed ensemble (2007) [original title: "Tropical"]
Central Park West, opera in 2 acts (2007) [libretto: A. R. Gurney, based on Moliere's "School for Husbands"]
Leda and Zeus, trombone and piano (2007)
Plans, soprano, tenor, chorus and orchestra  (2008) [text: Daniel Burnham]
Song of Ecclesiastes (4 songs), baritone and piano (2008) [text: Bible - The Book of Ecclesiastes]
Mojave, marimba and string quartet & shaker player (or wind ensemble, or orchestra) (2009)
Cactus, concerto for harp, violin and orchestra (2009)
Tahiti, chamber ensemble (2009)
May and June, saxophone quartet (2010)
Wild Grass, concerto for harp and winds (2011)
Tiger in the Sun, brass and timpani (2011)
Archipelago, orchestra (2012)
Pop'pea, video-pop version of Monteverdi's "The Incoronazione di Poppea" (2012)


WORKS BY GENRE                                                            Torke Links    ~ ~ ~    Torke on Torke     ~ top of page ~
Dramatic/Theater
The Directions, opera in 1 act (1986) [libretto: Torke]
King of Hearts, opera for television (1993) [libretto: C. Rawlence]
Strawberry Fields, opera in 1 act (1999) [libretto: A.R. Gurney]
The Paradise Project, theater piece, voices and playback (2002) [lyrics: Mark Campbell]
Central Park West, opera in 2 acts (2007) [libretto: A. R. Gurney, based on Moliere's "School for Husbands"]
Pop'pea, video-pop version of Monteverdi's "The Incoronazione di Poppea" (2012)

Ballet
Black and White, ballet (1988)
Ash, ballet [1991 ballet from chamber/orch work "Ash", 1988; choreography: Peter Martins]
Ecstatic Orange, ballet [from "Verdant Music", 1985, "Purple", 1987, and "Ecstatic Orange", 1985; choreography: Peter Martins]
Echo, ballet [1989 ballet from orchestral work "Slate", 1989; choreography: Peter Martins]
The Contract, evening length story ballet (2002) [choreography: James Kudelka]
An Italian Straw Hat, ballet (2004)

Orchestra
Statement, orchestra (1979)
Ecstatic Orange, orchestra (1985)
Bright Blue Music, orchestra (1985) [arr. for violin, cello and piano as "The Harlequins Are Looking At You"]
Green, orchestra (1986) [original title: "Verdant Music"]
Purple, orchestra (1987)
Charcoal, orchestra (1988)
Ash, orchestra or chamber orchestra (1988) [also made into a ballet in 1991, choreography by Peter Martins]
Slate, concertante group [3 kybds, 2 perc - xyl/marimba] and orchestra (1989)
Color Music, orchestra (1985-89) [assembled from previously composed works]
    - Green
    - Purple
    - Ecstatic Orange
    - Ash
    - Bright Blue Music
Red, orchestra (1991)
    - Cherry
    - Crimson
    - Brick
Run, orchestra (1992)
Javelin, orchestra (1994)
December, string orchestra (1995)
Brick Symphony, orchestra (1997)
Lucent Variations, orchestra (or chamber orchestra) (1998)
Jasper, orchestra (1998)
Corner in Manhattan, string quartet or orchestra (2000)
An American Abroad, orchestra (2002)
Suite from "The Contract", orchestra (2002)
Suite from "An Italian Straw Hat", orchestra (2003)
Heartland, orchestra (2006)
Archipelago, orchestra (2012)

Band
Grand Central Station, band (2000)
Bliss, Variations on an Unchanging Rhythm, band (2003)
Four Wheel Drive, band (2004)
The Kiss, band (2006)
Mojave, marimba and string quartet & shaker player (or wind ensemble, or orchestra) (2009)

Soloist(s) w/Orchestra or Ensemble
Copper, brass quintet and orchestra (1988)
Rust, piano and 11 wind instruments (1989)
Slate, concertante group [3 kybds, 2 perc - xyl/marimba] and orchestra (1989)
Bronze, piano and orchestra (1990)
Piano Concerto (1993)
Saxophone Concerto, soprano saxophone and orchestra (1993)
Nylon, guitar and chamber orchestra (1994)
Rapture, concerto for percussion and orchestra (2001)
Mojave, marimba and string quartet & shaker player (or wind ensemble, or orchestra) (2009)
Cactus, concerto for harp, violin and orchestra (2009)
Wild Grass, concerto for harp and winds (2011)

Chorus w/Orchestra
Mass, baritone, chorus and chamber orchestra (1990)
Book of Proverbs, soprano, baritone, chorus and orchestra (1996)
    - Opening
    - The Door Turns
    - Better a Dry Crust
    - The Whip for the Horse
    - The Way of an Eagle
    - Drink our Fill of Love
    - Like the Man who Seizes
    - Boast Not of Tomorrow
Four Seasons, soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, chorus, children's choir and orchestra (1999) [text: Philip Littell]
    - Winter
            - January: Dans Macabre
            - February: Korea
            - December: Levittown
    - Fall
            - September: Letter to God
            - November: Died to Bullets
            - October: Perfect No Hitter
    - Summer
            - August: Guitars
            - July: Hanoi Hilton
            - June: The Farm
    - Spring
            - May: Birth of the Teen
            - April: April Fools
            - March: Na Na Finale
Plans, soprano, tenor, chorus and orchestra  (2008) [text: Daniel Burnham]
    - Make Big Plans
    - Noble Diagram
    - Long After We Are Gone
    - Our Sons and Grandsons
    - Your Watchword

Choral
Song of Ezekiel, 3-part treble voices and piano (2001)

Chamber
Two Pieces for Woodwind Trio, flute, clarinet and bassoon (pub. 1981)
Ceremony of Innocence, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1983)
Vanada, brass, keyboards and percussion (1984)
The Yellow Pages, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1985) [see also "Telephone Book", 1995]
The Harlequins Are Looking At You, violin, cello and piano (1985) [chamber version of "Bright Blue Music", 1985]
Adjustable Wrench, large ensemble (1987)
Rust, piano and 11 wind instruments (1989)
Music on the Floor, chamber ensemble (1992)
Chalk, string quartet (1992)
Monday and Tuesday, chamber ensemble (1992)
Bone, large mixed ensemble (1994)
July, saxophone quartet (1995)
Telephone Book, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano (1995) ["The Yellow Pages" (1985), plus 2 new movements]
    - The Yellow Pages
    - The Blue Pages
    - The White Pages
Flint, 2 pianos, saxophone quartet, cello and bass (1995)
Overnight Mail, ensemble (1997)
Change of Address, large mixed ensemble (1997)
Corner in Manhattan, string quartet or orchestra (2000)
August, brass quintet (2003)
Two Girls on the Beach ..., woodwind quintet (2005)
After the Forest Fire, maimba, flute and cello (2005)
Fiji, large mixed ensemble (2007) [original title: "Tropical"]
Mojave, marimba and string quartet & shaker player (or wind ensemble, or orchestra) (2009)
Tahiti, chamber ensemble (2009)
    - Papeete
    - Moorea - green cliffs
    - Raiatea - town square
    - Bora Bora - lagoon
    - Tahaa - white sand
    - Maupiti - by the reel
    - Huahine - under the moonlight
    - Farewell
May and June, saxophone quartet (2010)
Tiger in the Sun, brass and timpani (2011)

Instrument and Piano
Chrome, flute and piano (1993)
Sprite, flute and piano (1996)
Leda and Zeus, trombone and piano (2007)

Piano
Leatus, piano (1982)
Two Drinks, piano (2000)
Blue Pacific, piano (2006)

Vocal
Four Proverbs, female voice and ensemble (1993)
    - Better a Dish
    - Drink Water
    - One Man Pretends
    - There is Joy
Pentecost, soprano, organ and string orchestra (1997) [soprano and orchesta version, 2005] [text: Bible - Acts]
    - And It Shall Come to Pass
    - And I Will Show Wonders
    - Whosoever Shall Call
Five Songs of Solomon, soprano and piano (2001) [text: Bible]
    - On My Bed
    - I Will Rise
    - The Watchmen Came
    - I Had Hardly Left Them
    - I Adjure You
Song of Isaiah, soprano and ensemble (2002)
Song of Ecclesiastes (4 songs), baritone and piano (2008) [text: Bible - The Book of Ecclesiastes]
    - What Profit Has a Man
    - A Time To
    - The Heart of the Wise
    - Cast Your Bread


TORKE  LINKS                                                            Works by Genre    ~ ~ ~    Torke on Torke      ~ top of page ~
Compositional Techniques in Michael Torke's "Ecstatic Orange" ... (Gregg Wramage, gradworks.umi.com)
Michael Torke's Saxophone Quartet "July" (Amherst Saxophone Quartet)
Michael Torke Tries DIY (Molly Sheridan, NewMusicBox)
Michael Torke Urges Musicians to ‘Go Crazy’ with His Compositions (James Chute, UTSandiego)
Musical Process In Selected Works By Michael Torke (Kathleen Biddick Smith, Univ of Florida)

Composer's website   . . .   contact Michael Torke:  here

Torke @ Wikipedia
Torke @ American Music Center
Torke @ Answers.com
Torke @ Boosey & Hawkes
Torke @ Boston Modern Orchestra Project
Torke @ Classical Archives
Torke @ Classical Composers Database
Torke @ Classical Net
Torke @ ClassicsToday (via Google Advanced Search)
Torke @ composition:today
Torke @ Facebook
Torke @ IMDb (Internet Movie Database)
Torke @ InstantEncore
Torke @ IRCAM
Torke @ Klassika
Torke @ The Listeners' Club
Torke @ Modern Classical
Torke @ MSN Music
Torke @ MusicWeb International
Torke @ Naxos
Torke @ NewMusicBox (via Google Advanced Search)
Torke @ The New York Times
Torke @ Open Writing

Publisher
Torke @ Composer's website/publisher listings
Torke @ Adjustable Music [Hendon Music]
Torke @ Boosey & Hawkes
Torke @ Dorn Publications
Torke @ Hendon Music [Boosey & Hawkes]
Torke @ Bill Holab

Streaming Audio
Torke @ Composer's website
Torke @ Classical Archives
Torke @ Kalvos & Damian
Torke @ last.fm
Torke @ MySpaceMusic    also    here    and    here    and     here
Torke @ PRX (Public Radio Exchange)
Torke @ Rhapsody.com
Torke @ SoundCloud

Recordings
Torke @ Composer's website
Torke @ Amazon.com
Torke @ ArkivMusic
Torke @ CD Universe
Torke @ ClassicsOnline
Torke @ Discogs
Torke @ Innova Records
Torke @ itunes

Video
Torke @ YouTube
Torke @ Google Video
Torke @ Vimeo (via Google Advanced Search)
                                                                                                                                                                                   ~ top of page ~
Torke on Torke: Talking about "Number Nine" (Ash) /San Francisco Ballet (VIDEO)







Torke on Torke: Interview w/Dianne Donovan @ KMFA (streaming audio)
Michael Torke, composerComposers Speak on the Web at Pytheas
                            ~ click on composer picture to listen ~







Torke on Torke: Interview/Kalvos & Damian (streaming audio)
Michael Torke, composerComposers Speak on the Web at Pytheas
                            ~ click on composer picture to listen ~







. . . and check out more    Composers Speak on the Web    at Pytheas

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