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Michael Torke: WFIU's September Contemporary Music Highlight

A man is surrounded by sheets of music

WFIU's featured contemporary composer for the month of September is Michael Torke.

Torke studied at the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Joseph Schwantner, and Yale University. His music is considered representative of post-minimalism, and Torke cites jazz and pop as influences on his compositional style.

Many of Torke's best known works involve color, including his early works Ecstatic Orange and Yellow Pages, written when he was a student at Yale. A later color-related work is Color Music, a series of orchestral pieces each of which explores a different color.

Torke has often worked in collaboration with choreographers, including a five year stint with Peter Martins and the New York City Ballet. With the National Ballet of Canada and choreographer James Kudelka, Torke composed two evening-length ballets, The Contract and An Italian Straw Hat.

Other compositions include his well-known work Javelin, written for the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta, and the oratorio Four Seasons for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by the Walt Disney Company as part of a celebration of the millennium.

While Torke's early career saw his works released on the Decca/Argo label, in 2003 the composer founded Ecstatic Records and re-issued his works in a complete box set. His most recent release, Tahiti, came out in 2010 and features the 10/10 Ensemble, the contemporary group of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. In May of 2012, Torke's opera Pop-pea premiered at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.

WFIU will feature compositions by Michael Torke throughout the month of September.

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