Year: 2009

Heading: concerto for harp, violin, and orchestra

First Performance: Julie Smith (harp) and Jeff Thayer (violin) with the San Diego Symphony, November 19-21, 2010

Instrumentation: soloviolin solostrings

Duration: 18'

...there was nothing to fear in Torke's concerto. Torke's work shows both the influence of minimalists like Steve Reich and earlier American composers like Aaron Copland. It is rhythmically animated, but at the same time, melodically oriented. —James Chute, San Diego Union-Tribune

Cactus is largely a gentle, subtly persuasive work...its easy charms made it one of the strongest world premieres the San Diego Symphony has done in years. —Christian Hertzog, San Diego Arts

Program Notes:
CACTUS (2009) was commissioned by the San Diego Symphony for Julie Smith and Jeff Thayer, principle harpist and concert master of the orchestra. In one movement, the music is held together by a falling fourth motive, first heard in single note harmonics in the solo harp. I was guided by the idea that even in an arid desert, certain plant life can still flourish; a cactus plant with its forbidding prickles nevertheless can bloom gloriously. The concerto grows from very limited material but later opens up and expands into a kind of lushness a listener might not at first have predicted. Having recently moved to the southwest from New York City, I am everyday struck by the desert's unexpected beauty as well.