Michael Torke

From Academic Kids

American composer Michael Torke (born September 21 1961 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin), studied at the Eastman School of Music and at Yale University, and writes accessible music influenced by jazz and minimalism. Sometimes described as a post-minimalist, his most postminimal piece is Four Proverbs, in which the syllable for each pitch is fixed and variations in the melody produce streams of nonsense words. Other works in this style include Book of Proverbs and Song of Isaiah. His most popular work is probably Javelin, which he composed in 1994, commissioned by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympics in celebration of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's 50th anniversary season, in conjunction with the 1996 Summer Olympics. Commissioned by Disney and Michael Eisner for the New York Philharmonic's Millennium Celebration, he penned Four Seasons, an oratorio for chorus and orchestra celebrating various aspects of the months. The 2002 ballet, The Contract, with choreography by James Kudelka and music by Torke, was a smash success. They are currently at work on another ballet, An Italian Straw Hat, set to premiere in Canada in 2005. A recent project for the New York City Opera fell through, leading him to create a musical instead.

A synaesthete, he is the composer of numerous pieces (Bright Blue Music, Ecstatic Orange) which include colors in the titles, later made into the suite Color Music.

Other pieces include Rust (1989), influenced by rap and disco, Telephone Book (1985, 1995), Adjustable Wrench, and Ash (1989) and Mass (1990), which received critical maulings for their unabashed return to the style of Beethoven and Mendelssohn.

In 2003, he created his own record label, Ecstatic Records, on which he re-released a set of six 1990s CDs which were put out of print by the now out-of-business Argo Records.

External links

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