The story is this: In 2012 I was organizing the Washington International Competition for composition (https://fmmcfoundation.org/current-comp ... mposition/) and one of the judges I had selected was Michael Torke. I met him at the hotel where he was staying and took him to Catholic University, where he would for the next several hours be holed up with the other judges with a pile of scores to pick the winner. He said this recording of his music by the Ensemble 10/10 had just been released and he gave me a copy. I had an incentive to give the music a real listen since it had been given to me by the composer himself.
My first reaction to Fiji was "WTF". It sounded like an all-day beach party with island drums and girls in bikinis dancing around in the sand. I figured I could live with that image but I wished there was more contrast. The music didn't seem to go anywhere, there were no dramatic contrasts. What I eventually realized, and I had to accept the restrictions of his sound-world in order to hear this, is that there is a wealth of contrast in this music. There are motives which link in counterpoint to other motives, and sometimes a motive which occupies the foreground in one place becomes the counterpoint to something else later. There is a wonderful melody at about the 5:00 mark that sticks in my head, and there is a culmination towards the end which supplies a satisfying climax. Later, as I read the liner notes to Torke's Concerto for Orchestra I realized that Torke had deliberately restricted his sound world so as to amplify the least amount of change.
Fiji was composed in 2007.Michael Torke wrote:Because we live in such a diverse, multi-cultural world, it seems that all music should be celebrated; tranches of repertory spanning centuries, covering every style and practice, are all equally valued these days. The only way a composer could hope to claim musical "real estate" of his own is to develop a strong personal style, one that takes up space. I believe this can only be accomplished by tightening the screws of architectural cohesion and tethering the musical expression to as limited of means as possible. Once that strategy has been established, unexpected freedom, caprice and voice can follow.