Heading: for orchestra (or chamber orchestra)
18 September 1998
Ordway Theater, St. Paul, Minnesota
St Paul Chamber Orchestra / Hugh Wolff
Torke's appeal is partly a matter of his deft orchestrations. It's also the way he deals with rhythm...His rhythmic patterns are never static...They unfold quickly, and they jostle one another, vying for room and for attention. —Michael Anthony, St. Paul Star Tribune
"Lucent" means luminous, which derives from the Latin word "to shine." Something lucent gives off light, but it can also be translucent and clear. Instruments are combined, in my piece, Lucent Variations, so that their vibrations reinforce each other, creating acoustical shine. The music grows from small, simple ideas to more enhanced longer ideas, in a kind of continuous variation. It feels almost like a pageant moving by ?like a parade of electrical light. In fact, the original title for the piece was "Children at Night:" the wonderment upon childrens' faces, illuminated by the lights of a nighttime parade, was an image that was unexpectedly moving for me. A parade is fixed in its structure—the floats don't change positions. But from the spectator's standpoint, it is constantly changing as it moves by. It is a good example of how something consistent and unchanging is at the same time ever-changing from a different point of view.
People sometimes ask "why do you make your music so buoyant: why do you try to be so happy?" Such music might be distrusted...life is rather difficult and painful, why turn one's back on that cruel reality? I say music is not a photograph, or even a reflection of life. Music, instead, is meant to offer meaning, and spiritual uplift. It is a kind of celebratory prayer for me, not journalism or confession.
Lucent Variations was commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for their 40th anniversary, and given its premiere September 18th, 1998 at the Ordway Theater in Saint Paul, Hugh Wolff conducting.