Jeffrey J. Torres

Composer and arranger





I studied the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and later the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, focusing on courses in conducting and composition. I learned the art of orchestral conducting under Raphael Kianovsky (a student of Igor Markevitch at the Motzarteum, where one of his classmates was the great Daniel Barenboim) and Geoffrey Simon (a periodic guest conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, and a conducting student himself of maestros Markevitch and Herbert Von Karajan). My choral conducting education came from Robert Porter, Margaret Hawkins (Founder and Director of the world class Milwaukee Symphony Chorus) and Lee Erickson (Ms. Hawkins successor with the chorus). My composition professors during this time were Joyce Altman, Harold Green and Burt Levy.


I spent 15 years actively serving as Choir Director of various church choirs in the Greater Milwaukee area. I was to also serve as Music Director of a semiprofessional men's choir and led this ensemble to 3 consecutive state championships. The men's choir was a featured performer at a number of regional men's choral festivals in WI and MI, providing me with the opportunity to lead many massed choir performances at those events.


It was during the years I spent directing choirs that I began composing and arranging music on a regular basis. In 1992, my first sacred choral composition, "Three in One", was published by Sunburst Music. I created numerous hymn arrangements for the brass and choral ensembles of Martin Luther High School (Greendale, WI). I was then commissioned by the school to write a work for full symphonic band based on the hymn "Of the Father's Love Begotten", which was performed to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the school. In 2019, I was honored to be in the inaugural class for the MLHS Hall of Honor. I was also blessed with the opportunity to lead the full orchestra and choirs at Elmbrook Church (Brookfield, WI) in performances of many of my original compositions and arrangements. More recently, I have been fortunate to have some of my more recent compositions and arrangements performed by the Southern California Brass Consortium.


To date, my original and collaborative recordings have enjoyed more than 1,700,000 plays on the SoundCloud digital music platform. "Orchestral wraps" received over 360,00 plays with many tracks enjoying over 30,000 plays each.


Some select choral works are available for sale through the J.W. Pepper's "My Score" division with all having been used in various public performances. The completed score of my orchestral wrap of "Asturias" (Guitar and Orchestra) is expected to have its world premiere sometime in 2023. Full scores are being created for the piano and orchestra collaborations of “Sea Inside” and “Sky In Motion” with live premiers expected in 2023 as well.



What does music mean to you personally?

Music is my heart. Over many decades, I have pursued many different goals and outcomes in many aspects of life (family, sports, business, etc.), but the one true passion that has never left me is music. Although there have been extended time periods that I have had to walk away from active involvement in composing or arranging, music has been faithful to me, helping me through difficult times. It moves me at an emotional level unlike any single media or art form.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

While music takes me to a magical place, I do not think of what I do so much as a fantasy. In the respect that when I am trying to create a music depiction of an image or idea, yes, fantasy must be involved for both the listener and myself to find common ground. But many times I am solely focused on the pure sound of what I am working on.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

Well, life has not afforded me the option to be a professional musician so I will turn this question backwards! While I have spent the majority of my life involved in coaching athletics and in the business world, if I had followed my dream and talents to their logical conclusion, I would have been a conductor or music director in the realm of orchestral music. Given my recent focus on collaboration projects, my conducting background allows me to create nuanced orchestrations around freely played music.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

Yes. When I attend live concerts, unless it is a symphony orchestra playing the soundtrack while a movie is being projected on the stage, the age demographic skews away from youth in a most noticeable way. With so many things competing for the time of a young person in the world today - and with attention spans seeming to diminish at a steady pace - I am not sure what can be done to reverse this.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

I am not sure what the role of music will become. Even in movie scores, the current trend is moving toward “sound design” and less focused on orchestral soundtracks. There is less teaching of music in educational systems. There is experimentation with AI created music right now. Despite sophisticated algorithms, I don't think that a purely AI derived composition can ever result in music at the same emotional level as a human being, but perhaps only time will tell.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

I think it is critical today for a successful musician to be more than skilled and creative when performing. Creativity now plays a much larger role - competing for performance or composing opportunities, creating a personal brand for themselves via social or other media, and seeking new ways to draw listeners into what we do.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

The aforementioned orchestra / movie concerts seem to be an effective start. But this needs to be followed up with invitations to broaden their horizons. “Oh, you really enjoyed that music? What did you like the most? Ah, I think you would really like the music of “XComposer” - let me find a concert featuring their music so you / we can attend it!”. I believe the young today will need guidance and encouragement if they are going to progress down this path.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

My creative process varies by the project. Generally, I think along the horizontal plane, so melody is probably my strongest driver. This is most evident when using my “text to music” formula approach. The whole of the work evolves from these various motives. I also believe that music needs to “go somewhere” so a dramatic or emotional arc is always foremost in my mind. When I am collaborating, my focus adapts to this by identifying motifs in the music which I can incorporate into my arrangements and counterlines that will blend with the artist's original composition or performance. On a large scale, my “National Mall Suite” for full orchestra is my most complete work from start to finish as it captures the images and emotions of the Monuments and Memorials in Washington DC. On a smaller scale, my “Adagio for Piano and Strings” was a crucial work for me. While we all strive to continually hone our craft, this was one piece where upon completion I thought “ I have created something truly beautiful - I can die a happy man now”....

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Randomly listen to classical music as “discovery sessions” - maybe for only 5-10 minutes a day. Our streaming world makes this easier than ever. Eventually, people should find something they like, and then they can look for more that is similar or related. Also, just be aware of your surroundings. There is so much music around. Movies, amusement parks, stores - they all have music playing in the background and classical music is well represented. Listen and inquire about what you are hearing. The Shazam app makes this easier as well.

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Always. I realize that my work is neither groundbreaking nor highly sophisticated or complex. I feel, however, that this is a way that helps me connect with the audience and so I tend to write about emotions and places - things that most people can resonate with. While I do not go so far as Salieri as he was portrayed in “Amadeus” - “Give them a big bang so they know it is time to clap” - the audience experience is a core part of my awareness as I compose.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

I recently completed a 16 track collaboration project with Anna and many of the composers on her Moving Classics TV site. Tracks will be released through September of this year. Following that I have a 5 track EP with the wonderful Italian composer / pianist Gian Marco La Serra, as well as a full Christmas album that we will be releasing in November. As I look to 2023, I need to find a balance for some collaborations, but also for more composing of my own music and scoring projects. As virtual orchestra samples are the core building blocks of what I do, they frequently provide me with that ability to experiment in my projects. Every time I get a new library, it is like a new toy and I want to see what I can do with it. Many of my tracks started out as simply a showcase of a new instrument.