With stammering lips and insufficient sound
I strive and struggle to deliver right
That music of my nature…
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning, as set in
John Muehleisen’s The soul’s expression
In a program that celebrates brazenness, bravery, and bravado, The Esoterics will present six choral works inspired by revolutionaries, nonconformists, and those unafraid of speaking truth to power.
The cornerstone of this concert will be Francis Poulenc’s a cappella tour de force Figure humaine [The human face], setting verses by Paul Eluard, a member of the French Resistance who was detained during World War II. From his prison cell, Eluard wrote eight poems that depict the ravages of war and the hope for freedom. These poems were then smuggled to Poulenc, who set them to music in 1943, during the “darkest days of the war.” Poulenc’s scores were then published in Algeria, and brought secretly to London and Paris in warplanes in order to be rehearsed before the end of the war.
This concert will also feature Eric Banks’ elegy for Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist who documented the atrocities of the Russian military in Chechnya, in stark opposition to the policies of Putin’s regime. For this she was murdered in her apartment on the Russian president’s birthday in 2006. The text of Banks’ work comes from Anna’s final published article, in which she foresaw her own death, in alternation with three Russian poems about the truth by Marina Tsvetayeva. The last of these poems bears the Latin inscription that is the title of this piece, “to risk one’s life for truth,” or Vitam impendere vero.
Two Minnesota composers are also featured on this program. Abbie Betinis, the first winner of The Esoterics’ POLYPHONOS competition, with Bar xizam [Upward I rise], has set verses of courage that are also found on the tombstone of the Sufi mystic, Hafez. Timothy Takach subverts conventional images of divine might with A worshipper and man, a poem by Stephen Crane. In addition, the choral fireworks of local composer John Muehleisen will be experienced in The soul’s expression, his setting of a fervent poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning that was commissioned by The Esoterics in 2006.
Audiences at AUDACIOR will also be able to enjoy the exceedingly timely world premiere of The visible world by Dominick DiOrio, the first recipient of The Esoterics’ composer residency, HARMONIA. In his new work, composed last summer here in Seattle, DiOrio sets a mélange of texts on the struggle for civil equality for same-sex couples: lines from Oscar Wilde’s De profundis, verses from the poets Catullus and Gautier, a pronouncement from Justice Anthony Kennedy that decriminalizes same-sex marriage, and a quotation from Paul Barwick, one of the first gay men to apply for a marriage license in Seattle in 1971.
Please join The Esoterics for one of these three performances of AUDACIOR:
Friday | 7 August 2015 | 800 pm | Seattle
St Stephen’s Episcopal Church | 4805 NE 45th Street
Saturday | 8 August 2015 | 800 pm | West Seattle
Holy Rosary Catholic Church | 4210 SW Genesee St
Sunday | 9 August 2015 | 300 pm | Bainbridge Island
Grace Episcopal Church | 8595 NE Day Road
Ticket prices are $25 at the door ($22 in advance),
$18 for students, seniors, the un(der)employed,
and the differently-abled ($15 in advance).
Active singers in other choral groups may attend for only $10 (available at the door only).
The Esoterics’ SEASON 22 has been sponsored with generous support from:
4Culture | ArtsFund | ArtsWA
The Aaron Copland Fund for New Music
Classic KING-FM | The Horizons Foundation
The Lutheran Community Foundation
Nikko Media Center | The Renaissance Foundation
The Seattle Foundation | Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture