Wisconsin native Michael Torke releases ‘Unseen’

The new orchestral work weaves a mesmerizing rhythmic and sonic tapestry

Album Cover, Michael Torke’s “Unseen”

Milwaukee native Michael Torke is world famous. He’s a composer whose work has been commissioned for the Olympics and by top orchestras and ensembles around the globe.

Torke was born in Milwaukee and attended Wauwatosa East High School, then studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and at Yale University.

Torke is known for having synesthesia — he experiences music and colors together, something expressed through pieces such as “Green,” “Bright Blue Music,” “Charcoal” and “Ecstatic Orange.”

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The color pieces comprise only a portion of Torke’s output. He writes across genres, from solo piano to chamber music; he shines with an orchestra. The New York Times referred to him as, “a master orchestrator whose shimmering timbral palette makes him the Ravel of his generation.”

That gift is evident in a new release entitled, “Unseen.” It’s the final album of a set of four unified by rhythm, a sense of syncopation, the presence of three against two throughout.

The rhythmic patterns are mesmerizing, and the orchestral palette shines and sparkles with subtlety and nuances that emerge with close listening.

“Unseen” is a single work made up of nine movements, each a part of the whole, but each also appealing as a miniature.

According to Torke, the title comes from the Nicene Creed “ … creator of all things, seen and unseen.” He added, “We are a visual people — we take in the world primarily through our eyes. But what we value the most are things that can’t be seen — feelings, ideas, energy, accomplishments, memories, contentment.”

It’s easy to let go while listening to this music, to be transported by the rhythms and orchestral effects.

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