Heading: for orchestra
19 September 1998
Madison Symphony Orchestra/ John DeMain
1 October 1998
Performing Arts Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra/ Andreas Delfs
Recordings: Jasper can be found on the release, rapture, an american abroad, jasper
Jasper does not so much unfold in time as hang in the air and vibrate ecstatically in ever changing colors. —Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
[Jasper is] persuasive and addictive. The musical technique, considered apart from Torke's always magnificent scoring, is impressive. Many varied repetitions of a descending scale are clothed in ravishing orchestral garments, and the 12-minute uplift, worth every penny, is delivered with polish and wit in its timely climaxes. —BBC Music Magazine
This joyful, outdoor music breathes the same air as Javelin.—Music Web International
...a bright, breezy jeu d’esprit that effortlessly sustains its 12-minute length. —Classics Today
I composed Jasper, commissioned by the Madison and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in honor of the sesquicentennial of the State of Wisconsin, in a small town in Northern Wisconsin called Bayfield. In a house overlooking Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands, I let the cool, brisk air, the friendly small town life, faxes sent from the Chamber of Commerce, a trip to the Recreation Center to swim each day, a poet friend working in the next room, informal dinners at Maggie's, the local restaurant, and other day-to-day details accompany my work on a rented keyboard as the musical ideas developed.
When I am outside of a city [I live in New York] and work in the country, I tend to look up. The canopy of boughs and leaves - like the dome of a cathedral - comes from single, sturdy trunks. This suggests how musical expression unfolds - it isn't random aural occurrences stitched together. An understanding that music comes out of other music, seemingly organically, is a principle I want to convey. In general, this kind of music making tends to be affirmative, it reinforces our need to believe that actions have semi-predictable results, at the same time, supplies us with our need to be surprised and stimulated, because you never know what kind of branch is going to extend from the original trunk. If my expression enhances the listener?s own optimism, I believe a useful exchange has occurred.
Titles are powerful sign posts that tend to guide a composition's fate into the future. Titles must arouse interest, form a strong, unforgettable association, convey a sense of the piece, but finally, it must not distract. Sometimes the sound and an apparent solidity of a word can issue a more accurate representation of the elusive vibrations shooting through the air. 'Jasper', with its suggestion of a darkened, almost forest green color, its allusions to a semi-precious stone with Biblical roots, and the common notion of something scintillating projecting from it are all associations I welcome.