Saxophonist, composer, educator, and curator, Michael Rene Torres, currently serves as Assistant Professor of Practice at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio where he teaches saxophone and composition, and during the summers teaches saxophone at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lake, Michigan. He is the founder and Artistic Director of the Columbus Ohio Discovery Ensemble (CODE); a 501(c)3 nonprofit contemporary music ensemble that is dedicated to the promotion, performance, and perception of contemporary concert music in Central Ohio. Additionally, Michael serves as the Program Director and an Advisory Board member of the Johnstone Fund for New Music which advances the performance of new music for the benefit of the Central Ohio community.
Michael has presented recitals, clinics, and masterclasses at conferences and universities throughout the USA. As an advocate of contemporary music, Michael has commissioned and premiered several works for the concert saxophone and is an active chamber musician as a member of Tower Duo with flutist, Erin Helgeson Torres. Tower Duo specializes in creating engaging musical experiences and commissioning new concert works by living composers to advance the growing repertoire of the flute and saxophone duet. Tower Duo recently recorded their debut album, Crosswind, through Ravello Records under the PARMA Recordings label in January of 2019 which features the duo’s favorite collaborations with composers from the first decade of their artistic work.
A winner of the Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award and the Greater Columbus Arts Council Composition Fellowship, Michael’s compositional interests are in chamber music that explores the juxtaposition of consonance and dissonance and is often inspired by psychology and poetry. He describes his music as dramatic and theatrical with complex, intricate moments and calm, introspective moments. Torres’ recent performances include commissions and premieres by the McConnell Arts Center Chamber Orchestra, No Exit New Music Ensemble, the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus, the Columbus Ohio Discovery Ensemble, Tower Duo, the Muskingum University Faculty Brass Quintet, Divertimento Flute Quartet, and the Kent State University New Music Ensemble.
Michael’s research interests are in studying the current and historical practice of comprehensive musicianship with an emphasis on investigating the mutually beneficial relationship of performing, composing, and improvising music. Specifically, he is interested in the educational outcomes of incorporating composition and improvisation into the pedagogy of traditional applied "classical" performance with a belief that learning and practicing basic compositional and improvisational skills can enhance the craft of performing, leading to creative musicianship and innovative interpretive perspective.
Fiercely committed to growing community and culture in Central Ohio, Michael has worked to produce events in collaboration with the VIVO Music Festival, Columbus Symphony Orchestra, Johnstone Fund for New Music, Columbus Foundation, and Chamber Music Columbus. He has previously served as Lecturer of Saxophone and Composition at Muskingum University (2011-2021), Instructor of Music at Ohio Dominican University (2014-2015), Artist in Residence with the Wexner Center for the Arts Pages Program (2017-2018), Assistant Dean of Students at the Brevard Music Center Festival and Institute (2010-2015), Executive Committee member of the Society of Composers, Inc. as the Editor for the bimonthly national SCI Newsletter (2012-2016), Assistant Event Coordinator for The Ohio State University Contemporary Music Festival (2010-2012), and as the General Manager of the 2013 National Conference of the Society of Composers, Inc.
He holds degrees from The Ohio State University (DMA-saxophone, MM-composition), Northwestern University (MM-saxophone), and Stetson University (BME-education). He has studied saxophone with James Bishop, Frederick L. Hemke, James Hill, and Joseph Lulloff and studied composition with Thomas Wells and Kari Juusela. Michael is a Conn-Selmer Endorsing Artist and performs exclusively on Selmer Paris saxophones. His artistic interests outside of performing, composing, and organizing include improvisation, acrylic painting, black and white photography, and collecting field recordings.