Michael Torke’s “October”: Autumn Music

Although usually free of a literal program, the music of the American composer, Michael Torke, is highly evocative. Even if we don’t share the composer’s experience of synesthesia, in which musical keys are involuntarily associated with specific colors, Torke’s suite of Color Music from the 1980s makes us feel the essence of green, bright blue, and ecstatic orange. Other orchestral pieces such as Run (1992) and Javelin (1994) convey an exhilarating sense of motion, while December suggests …

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Michael Torke’s “Chancel” (“Sessions, 3 A.M.”): The Virtue of Simplicity

Chancel is the third single to be released from Sessions, 3 A.M, the latest album by the American composer, Michael Torke. The complete recording will be available in November. Recorded last May at the Samurai Hotel Studio in Queens, New York, Sessions, 3 A.M features a collection of fifteen brief and atmospheric pieces for solo piano which are performed by the composer. The excerpts that are currently available suggest the magical, nocturnal vibe of an …

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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. …

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New Release: Michael Torke’s “Time”

In architecture, our perception of space is influenced by repeating elements which provide a sense of structure, form, and scale. A particularly sensuous example can be found in the crisp geometric lines which form the bronze curtain wall of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s 1958 Seagram Building in New York. While architecture occupies the spacial realm, music unfolds through time. Time is the title of the newest composition by American composer, Michael Torke (b. 1961). …

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Michael Torke’s “Green”: Verdant Vibrations

What color is E major? This question will leave many listeners bemused. Yet, for the American composer Michael Torke, the key of E is inextricably linked with the color green. Torke experiences synesthesia, a neurological condition that Dr. Oliver Sachs defined as “an immediate, physiological coupling of two sorts of sensation.” It’s a blending of the senses that other composers such as Liszt, Scriabin, Sibelius, and Duke Ellington reportedly experienced. Synesthesia inspired the …

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Michael Torke’s “Unconquered”: A Tone Poem for Saratoga

Unconquered, an orchestral tone poem by the American composer Michael Torke, is music of celebration. The four-movement work was written in 2016 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in upstate New York. For decades, SPAC has served as a summer home for the Philadelphia Orchestra and New York City Ballet. In 1777, with the defeat of the large invading force of British General John Burgoyne, the Battles of Saratoga marked …

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New Release: Michael Torke’s “Being”

Being, the newest album of American composer Michael Torke (b. 1961), is a celebration of pulse and pattern. Written in 2019 and scored for a chamber orchestra of 24 instruments, the work is described in Torke’s program notes simply as “a continuous 43 minute composition, in 9 parts, whose tempo is a consistent 126 beats per minute.” Being plays tricks with our perception of time, centering us in the moment, and delivering an experience akin …

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