This December, The Esoterics will conclude its 25th season with a program of contemporary prayers, in keeping with the theme of this year: saecula sacrorum, or “secular versions of sacred forms.” Since humans first appealed to higher powers, each prayer has included three aspects: an earnest wish, a willing benefactor, and a quiet utterance. In their secular form, prayers are often made to the divine that we find in nature, in ourselves, and in our communities. In ADŌRŌ, The Esoterics will perform a concert of new choral works that explore the solace, focus, and strength inspired by the natural world.
The program will include two settings of Sara Teasdale’s poetry by The Esoterics’ composer emeritus, Donald Skirvin—There will come soft rains and Places, like music–as well as two pieces by former Polyphonos winner Christina Whitten Thomas—My cathedral (setting Longfellow) and Discovery (setting verses by poet-oceanographer Deirdre Lockwood).
In addition, the ensemble will sing When I close my eyes I dream of peace by Swedish composer Karin Rehnqvist, a piece that sets this single phrase (uttered by an anonymous Croatian boy during the Yugoslav Wars) in twelve languages. The group will also sing Mason Bates’ “far-out” Observer in the Magellanic Cloud, which sets an ancient Maori entreaty to the night sky for a fruitful harvest. Director Eric Banks will also contribute a short piece to this program, At all times, setting verses on light by the XIV Dalai Lama.
The centerpiece of the concert is the eleven-movement cycle of Prayers by John Gould Fletcher, composed by Joseph Gregorio. Joe set three of Fletcher’s “secular humanist” prayers in 2013 when he won our Polyphonos competition, and they were so beautiful we commissioned him to write a cycle that included all of them! We are especially grateful to the Ann Stookey Fund for New Music for helping to fund this commission and are excited to welcome Joe, Christina, and Don for the entire concert weekend.
Please join us for this concert of care and contemplation.
General admission ticket prices are $25 at the door ($22 in advance). Discounted admission ticket prices are $18 at the door ($15 in advance) for students, seniors, the un(der)employed, and the differently-abled. Active singers in other choral groups may also attend for $15. Advance tickets are available online at www.TheEsoterics.org (through BrownPaperTickets). Admission to Sunday’s performance is by donation.
West Seattle, Washington