An American Abroad

An American Abroad

Year: 2002

Heading: for orchestra

First Performance:
2 February 2002
Usher Hall, Edinburgh
Royal Scottish National Orchestra / Marin Alsop

Instrumentation: 2(II=picc).2.2.dbn
4.2(II=flghn).3.1timpperc(3): BD/SD/tamb/claves/susp.cym/tub.bells/glsp/xyl/vib harpstrings

Duration: 21'

Recordings: An American Abroad can be found on the release, rapture, an american abroad, jasper

Press Quote:
The trademark energy is still there, right from the start in the muscular, striding chords, yet there is an underlying melancholy, which perhaps shows how Torke's work has deepened in recent years...
John Allison, The London Times

There's certainly a wide-eyed innocence to this work...At the same time, Torke's youthfully restive writing has been replaced by an almost middle-aged smoothness... —Raymond Tuttle

An American Abroad is, in every sense, something of a departure for Torke. It’s as if he, ‘the American’, the eagle, has landed in our green and pleasant land early in the last century, because this is precisely the kind of piece that any number of Englishmen – a committee, perhaps, comprising Bax, Ireland, and a less foxy William Walton – might have written at that time. There’s even a protracted oboe pastorale à la Delius ushering in the sweetly reflective chiming of church bells. Talk about back to the future. But maybe Torke’s happier facing that way. Sounds like it. —Gramophone

Program Notes:
An American Abroad, a 20 minute tone poem, is the fulfillment of the second commission as Associate Composer for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.  Along with the first commission, Rapture: Concerto for Percussion and Orchestra, and Jasper, performed by the RSNO the season before, it will be recorded by Naxos on an album to showcase the orchestra.  
Unfolding melodies and themes express the natural naïveté an American might feel traveling abroad.  Wonderment and curiosity kindles the traveler’s energy, yet there remains an unintended lack of sophistication: being an outsider, how can a traveler truly understand the depths and subtleties of a new culture?  I currently live in New York City, and when visitors from the “outside” are in town, I am inspired by their simple energy and appreciation of what my hometown has to offer, which often opens my eyes to new ways of seeing New York.  It’s my hope that the delight and concomitant melancholy of discovery an American might have abroad- a particular romance of travel- is expressed in this composition.