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SIRENE: A modern answer to the ancient call

The Esoterics opens its nineteenth season with SIRENE, a concert of music that invites the listener to awareness through the ancient call of sirens.  The concert is comprised of four brand-new works by composers Mason Bates, Ted Hearne, Paul Crabtree, and Eric Banks.  In addition to these public performances, this concert will also be performed at the upcoming Northwest Regional ACDA conference in Seattle.

Featured on this program is Mason Bates’ Sirens (2009), a six-movement piece commissioned by Chanticleer that explores the seductive, mythical creatures from a variety of cultures.  The characters from Homer’s Odyssey are first explored, followed by the German Lorelei.  Bates then examines the 16th-century Italian goddess of the stars, followed by the Peruvian Sirinu in Quechua. The cycle then sets Christ’s ‘siren’ call to the fishermen who became his disciples, and concludes with more text from Homer’s Odyssey.

Also on this program is Ted Hearne’s Privilege (2009), a cycle of five vignettes originally written for the San Francisco vocal ensemble Volti.  Hearne’s work is a pithy reflection upon our modern consciousness, addressing themes of communication among us – from global politics and mind-numbing technology to negligent parenting, and includes poignant texts from Bill Moyers’ 2009 interview with David Simon, the creator of the acclaimed television series The Wire.

The Esoterics will also present the world premiere of Paul Crabtree’s Thirst (2009), an arguably controversial setting of Felda Brown’s Elvis reads the story of the woman at the well, in which the well-known Bible verses are re-framed as though Elvis were encountering the Samaritan woman, redefining the very concept of temptation. In addition, the ensemble will present Eric Banks’ Voices, a setting of a poem by Constantine Cavafy, in which voices from beyond return to guide us on life’s journey.  This piece, originally composed in memory of Banks’ first conducting teacher Fenno Heath, was commissioned for and premiered by the Yale Glee Club in 2010.

Download the concert program here.