The Esoterics is a Seattle-based vocal ensemble that is dedicated to performing and perpetuating contemporary a cappella choral settings of poetry, philosophy, and spiritual writings from around the world. While cultivating artistic expression and cultural understanding among its singers and audience alike, The Esoterics aspires to reflect the beauty, power, and significance that are inherent in the music of our time. (The Esoterics is a registered non-profit organization under section 501(c)3 of the US Federal Tax Code.)
The Esoterics is recognized as the premier vocal ensemble in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, one which continually finds inspiration in music’s oldest and purest form: the gathering of unaccompanied voices in song.
The Esoterics strives to perpetuate this tradition of consummate human expression for all generations to enjoy, as it:
- promotes well-known masterpieces and lesser-known works of the contemporary a cappella repertoire with outstanding performances, excellent recordings, and accurate publications of new choral music;
- advances ongoing creativity in the choral art by commissioning world-premiere works from innovative composers, and producing imaginative programs that incorporate collaboration with the visual, theatrical, and literary arts;
- expands its presence in the arts community by engaging its current audience, educating future choral enthusiasts, and continuing to provide compelling choral experiences for persons of every age and socio-economic background;
- establishes itself as a financially sustainable non-profit corporation that realizes its artistic and organizational goals through increasingly substantial earned revenues and the support of diverse private and public sources; and
- cultivates a community of committed, enthusiastic singers, organized volunteers, and structured leadership that nurtures the artistic growth of each individual within an atmosphere of mutual respect.
Now in its twenty-third season, Seattle’s most innovative chorus has drawn local, national, and international praise for performing rarely-heard compositions of contemporary music for unaccompanied voices, for infusing elements of the literary, theatrical, and visual arts into the typical concert experience, and for performing settings of poetry, philosophy, and spiritual writings from around the world.
In early 1992, Eric Banks brought together a group of singing friends to perform his Master’s and Doctoral recitals in Choral Studies at the University of Washington. After Banks’ recitals were completed, the group wanted to keep singing together, so Banks chose a name for his ensemble based on the Greek adjective εσοτερικος – which describes a close-knit community and the secret knowledge that its members share.
Since incorporating with this name in 1993, The Esoterics has performed over 400 concerts throughout the Pacific Northwest, has commissioned and premiered more than 150 new works for a cappella voices in dozens of languages, and has mastered many of the most virtuosic choral compositions of the last century in concerts described as “compelling” and “crafted,” “luxuriant” and “lyrical,” “sumptuous” and “superb.”
The Esoterics has released twenty CD recordings to date – BEATA, ANTIPHONIA, ELEMENTIA, PENITENTIA, IMMAGINOSA, AMORE, SONETTARIA, NOTTURNA, MANDALA, RU’IA, OURANIA, BARBER, HAPTADAMA, CHIAROSCURA, SIRENE, AEONIA, OCEANA, SYLVANA, AETHERIA, and SYBILLA– several which have been favorably reviewed in The Gramophone and American Record Guide. Our recordings are distributed by Naxos of America. The ensemble has been honored as the only North American chorus invited to compete in the 2000 Cork International Choral Festival (Ireland), the 2001 Certamen Coral de Tolosa (Spain), and the 2006 Harald Andersén International Choir Competition in Helsinki (Finland).
Always on the search for the next great choral masterpiece, The Esoterics inaugurated its annual choral composition competition, POLYPHONOS, in 2006. Through this competition, The Esoterics awards commissions to three composers each year – a national winner, an international winner, and a young winner (under age 30). As well, The Esoterics has demonstrated its complete commitment to choral education as the only choral ensemble in Washington State that grants continuing-education credit to its members who also teach in the public schools.
In recognition for its efforts in choral education and innovation, The Esoterics has been honored four times with the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for the Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music (in 2001, 2003, 2006, and 2008). The Esoterics has been honored to receive several grants from the arts commissions of Washington State, King County, and the City of Seattle, as well as from ArtsFund, The Ann Stookey Fund for Music, The Horizons Foundation, The Seattle Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Aaron Copland Fund for New Music. The Esoterics is a proud member of the American Choral Director’s Association, Chorus America, the International Federation for Choral Music, and GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses.