In keeping with its tradition of celebrating the centenaries of modern composers, The Esoterics will commemorate the music and life of the American composer Irving Fine (3 December 1914 – 23 August 1962.) Fine, a member of the “Boston School” was a contemporary of Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, and Lukas Foss, and a friend to Igor Stravinsky. His pedigree as a musician was extraordinary, having studied composition with Walter Piston and Nadia Boulanger, as well as conducting with Serge Kousseviztky. He taught at Brandeis University, and was known for his contributions to the Tanglewood Festival, where he taught composition.
This program will feature Fine’s entire choral oeuvre, including his notable cycle The hour glass (1949) and six choruses from his two Alice in wonderland suites. The hour glass sets six poems of love and loss by Ben Jonson for a cappella chorus and soloists, including Have you seen the white lily grow and Against jealousy. Between 1942 and 1953, Fine set six poems in two suites from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in wonderland, each successive poem more ridiculous than the next. (You might recognize such poems as Lullaby of the duchess and the turtle’s Beautiful soup!) These accompanied works are among some of his most well-remembered choral music.
The texts from The Choral New Yorker (1944)are based on poems from the magazine of the same name. The four accompanied pieces in the set are intense and virtuosic, capturing the witticism and sardonic nature of the poetry. (Included in these pieces are the infamous poems Hen party and Caroline Million.) For this cycle as well as his Alice in Wonderland suite, The Esoterics will be joined by pianist Kevin Johnson. In a nod to his Jewish heritage, Fine’s An old song (1953) is the musical recollection of a sword smith crafting a weapon for a Japanese samurai. The text is a translation from the Yiddish poem by the Lithuanian-American Yehoash (Solomon Blumgarten).
Finally, the men’s and women’s ensembles of The Esoterics will perform separately to perform A short alleluia (1945) and McCord’s menagerie (1957). Written for three-part women’s voices, A short alleluia is an quick and lively anthem that has become part of the standard repertoire for female choruses. McCord’s menagerie was written for the 100th anniversary of the Harvard Glee Club, which Fine conducted while he studied there. This bizarre bestiary for men’s voices includes poems about the vulture, jerboa, mole, and clam.
Please join The Esoterics for one of these three performances of FINE:
Friday | 5 December 2014 | 8pm
St Stephen’s Episcopal Church
4805 NE 45th Street | Seattle
Saturday | 6 December 2014 | 8pm
All Pilgrims Christian Church
500 Broadway E | Seattle
Sunday | 7 December 2014 | 3pm
Holy Rosary Catholic Church
4142 42nd Avenue SW | West Seattle