Michael Torke’s “Nave”: A Preview of “Sessions, 3 A.M.”

The atmospherically titled Sessions, 3 A.M. is the most recent project of American composer, Michael Torke. It is a collection of fifteen pieces for solo piano, performed by the composer. The first track, Nave, was released as a single earlier this month, and the full album will be available in November.

In the nave of a cathedral, repeating structural columns rise to a vaulted ceiling and convey a sense of order and symmetry. I don’t know if Torke had this in mind when he chose his title, but the music works in a similar way. A melody develops over a repeating harmonic progression in a way which suggests a symmetrical arch. There are parallels with the simplicity of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies; yet here Torke’s music is warm rather than hypnotic and detached.

Torke’s program notes include a quote from the American professional poker champion, Erik Seidel: “Less certainty, more inquiry.” Additionally, there is a quote from the treatise, Simplicity in the Philosophy of Science:

The view that simplicity is a virtue in scientific theories and that, other things being equal, simpler theories should be preferred to more complex ones has been widely advocated in the history of science and philosophy… The claim is that simplicity ought to be one of the key criteria for evaluating and choosing between rival theories… However, simplicity can also be understood in terms of various features of how theories go about explaining nature—for example, a theory might be said to be simpler than another if it contains fewer adjustable parameters, if it invokes fewer extraneous assumptions, or it if provides a more unified explanation of the data.


Featured Image: the nave of Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík, Iceland

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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