Three Manhattan Bridges

Three Manhattan Bridges

Year: 2015

Heading: for piano and orchestra

Movement Titles:
I. George Washington Bridge
II. Queensboro Bridge
III. Brooklyn Bridge

First Performance:
December 19, 2015
Joyce Yang, piano
Albany Symphony Orchestra
David Alan Miller, conducting
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
Troy, New York

Instrumentation: Full orchestra with piano solo

Duration: 31'

Recording: Three Manhattan Bridges

Press Quotes:
But the real ride of the night was the sparkling new piano concerto, "Three Manhattan Bridges"...Torke's orchestration was like the splintering reflections of light hitting the variegated sides of deco buildings...expansive and satisfying...—Albany Times Union

...the soloist and orchestra work together to create a romantic musical portrait of these monumental structures... Nathan Cone, Texas Public Radio

...if he were cloned with Gershwin this would be the result....Wild standing ovations will ensue. —American Record Guide

This is both such a ‘New York piece’ but also a terrific concerto in which the piano plays almost a commentator on the majesty and feel of these bridges and the worlds they connect. —Daniel Coombs, Audiophile Audition

Program Note:
Three Manhattan Bridges is a concerto for piano and orchestra, in three movements, with the titles,

I. George Washington Bridge
II. Queensboro Brodge
III. Brooklyn Bridge

There is a muscular, industrial strength that bridges convey, while at the same time a poetic beauty expressed. Music works in a similar way, in that it combines ideas of formal masculinity with graceful femininity without these extremes being in conflict or contradicting one another.

Classical composers historically had a direct relationship with their audience: when an audience didn’t like a piece, a composer concluded he had failed, not that the audience was lacking in their understanding or appreciation. Modernism destroyed this relationship with its audience, characterized by an adversarial and imperious attitude. So I like the metaphor of trying to build a bridge to an earlier stance that music once had with towards its listeners.

A commanding, chordal theme that opens the first movement imparts the tensile strength and monumentality of the George Washington Bridge, and yet the music becomes extremely active as the busy traffic on the bridge would be. The moody, night‐time setting of the second movement whose opening woodwind shapes echo the curving cables lit up after dark might call to mind the famous dawn scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan. A somewhat jazzier third movement, with its broad second theme seemed fitting for one of our country’s oldest and certainly the most famous suspension bridge.

Three Manhattan Bridges was written for the pianist, Joyce Yang, and dedicated to her.