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RUST for piano, 11 winds, and bass by MICHAEL TORKE (1961, USA)

[#246] April 08, 2024

1989 | Piano solo, Wind Ensemble | Grade 6 | 15’ – 20’ | Solo Work

 American composer Michael Torke

Rust, by American composer Michael Torke is our Composition of the Week.

Rust was premiered on November 21, 1989, in Huddersfield, England, during the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival by Orkest de Vorharding.

The US premiere took place some days later, on November 29, 1989, at the Avery Fischer Hall, Lincoln Center, with Christopher O’Reilly on piano and the Orchestra of St. Lukes under Paul Connelly.


The work has a duration of 14 minutes, and it is scored for:

Solo piano—fl.2asax.tsax—hn.3tpts.3tbns—E-Bass


This recording features the composer on piano, with the London Sinfonietta, under David Alan Miller.


“The components of the drum track of a rap song were taken apart and assigned to each of the sections of the wind ensembles: the saxophones, the trumpets, and the trombones- so that pitches are taking the place of unpitched pop drum machine patterns. The solo piano is the leader, of course, but it is many times interwoven canonically with the ensemble, so that the brass and saxophone form rhythmic echoes of the soloist. "Rust" means nothing except the tarnished color I associate with the main chord chosen for the piece. Simpler chords are forced out of this basic dissonant chord, a held-back release.” Program Notes by Michael Torke



“Michael Torke's music has been commissioned by such orchestras as The Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, and the San Francisco Symphony; by such ballet companies as New York City Ballet, Alvin Ailey, and the National Ballet of Canada; by such opera companies as the Metropolitan Opera, Théâtre du Châtelet, and the English National Opera; by such large ensembles as the London Sinfonietta, Lontano, and De Volharding; and such small ensembles as the Smith, Ying, and Amstel Quartets.


He has worked with such conductors as Simon Rattle, Kurt Mazur, Edo de Waart, and David Zinman; such choreographers as Christopher Wheeldon, James Kudelka, and Juri Kilian; and collaborated with such librettists as A. R. Gurney, Michael Korie, and Mark Campbell; and such directors as Des McAnuff, Bart Sher, and Michael Greif.


He has been commissioned by entities such as the Walt Disney Company, and Absolute Vodka; worked with such soloists as Tessa Lark, Christopher O'Reilly, and Joyce Castle; and written incidental music to such companies as The Public Theater, The Old Globe Theater, and Classic Stage Company; and been composer in residence with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.


Beginning his career with exclusive contracts with Boosey and Hawkes, and Decca Records, he now controls his own copyrights and masters through his publishing company, Adjustable Music, and record company, Ecstatic Records.


His music has been called "some of the most optimistic, joyful and thoroughly uplifting music to appear in recent years" (Gramophone). Hailed as a "vitally inventive composer" (Financial Times) and "a master orchestrator whose shimmering timbral palette makes him the Ravel of his generation" (New York Times), Torke has created a substantial body of works in virtually every genre.


A recent work, SKY, written for violinist Tessa Lark, was a finalist for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize, and was nominated for a Grammy for best classical instrument solo.”



From the composer’s website


Other works for winds include:


  • Vanada (1984)

  • Overnight Mail (1997)

  • Grand Central Station (2000)

  • Bliss (2003/2013)



More on Michael Torke





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