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Composer Emeritus

Recently, Donald Skirvin was appointed to the post of Composer Emeritus for The Esoterics, having served for 15 years as composer-in-residence for the ensemble. As composer-in-residence, Donald wrote over 30 new works that The Esoterics premiered, many of which are available on CDs released by The Esoterics. Though his official role of CIR has ended, he remains committed to the mission of The Esoterics and strongly supports its continued evolution and mandate to perform the music of our time.

Donald Skirvin studied music at the Jordan Conservatory of Music, Indianapolis, and at Indiana University, Bloomington. As composer-in-residence with The Esoterics, he has written over 30 new works for the group, many of which are available on CD. He has received three NEA grants for commissions through The Esoterics. His composition, We Sing the Dream, was selected as the Festival Anthem prizewinner for the GALA V music festival in 1996 and was performed by 1,500 singers at the conclusion of the festival.

Choruses around the US and abroad have performed his works to resounding acclaim. Music critic David Vernier, writing for Classics Today, said that the Donald’s work, Alchemy, “…is rich in imagery wrought by imaginative use of harmony and apt, sensitive text-setting. And it’s also just plain gorgeous music that speaks well for this composer’s facility with voices….” For the complete review, please visit this website:  Alchemy was recorded by the GRAMMY-nominated music ensemble, Conspirare, and is available on their Through the Green Fuse CD. This work was commissioned and is available on The Esoterics’ IMMAGINOSA CD.

Earlier works include Earth Chants, scored for men’s voices, piano, organ, didgeridoo, percussion, and wine glasses, a commission from the Seattle Men’s Chorus and performed in St. Mark’s Cathedral as part of the acclaimed theatre piece, Fool’s Passion. Also commissioned by the Seattle Men’s Chorus, Do not weep is scored for men’s chorus, bass solo, trombone, and piano, and is recorded on the SMC Pink Album CD. Other works have been premiered or performed by such Seattle ensembles as The Bainbridge Chorale, the Northwest Chamber Chorus, The Seattle Choral Company, and Kirkland Choral Society.

Some recent choral works include Yet, Love Endures, commissioned by Ædonis and released on their AMORE CD, …stars to hold, commissioned by The Esoterics and recorded on their NOTTURNA CD, Winter Reverie, commissioned by the Seattle Women’s Chorus and performed in their 2006 winter concert, Songs of Enlightenment, a three-movement work that sets texts from various Buddhist traditions and which is recorded on The Esoterics’ MANDALA CD, and two settings of Shelley poems Hymn to the Moon, and Song of Apollo, recorded on The Esoterics’ OURANIA CD. Additionally, Donald recently composed Four Songs of the Seasons for the youth chorus, Kaleidoscope, which will be available soon for purchase through the J.W. Pepper music publishing company. Works in progress include settings of Wendell Berry poems and a set of pieces titled Choral Nocturnes.

Donald is a member of ASCAP. His music is published through J. W. Pepper ( and Yelton Rhodes Music (