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In times like these, when pride, prejudice, bullying, and lies have become more rampant in our public consciousness, we need to remind ourselves of the qualities that give us integrity, and often find such reminders in art. To this end, The Esoterics’ founding director has curated a season of four choral programs that explore poetry and music inspired by the virtues that we need to cultivate in our leadership, society, and world. These concerts – VULNERABILITY (in February), INCLUSIVITY (in May), HONESTY (in October), and HUMILITY (in December) – will not only nurture these “elements of integrity,” but will also feature the music of a new “majority.” Of the 33 composers that The Esoterics will feature this year, 20 of are women and of non-binary gender, and 12 are people of color. In addition to these four ‘themed’ concerts in 2019, The Esoterics will celebrate the centenaries of the Norwegian composer Johan KVANDAL and Swedish composer Sven-Erik BÄCK, with a single concert at St James Cathedral in September.

A complete list of programs, including works and composers, will be available on the pages listed below.
We hope that you will join us for this exciting, innovative, paradigm-shattering season!

VULNERABILITY | The capacity for openness

In the first program of its 26th concert season, The Esoterics will explore the human capacity for openness, VULNERABILITY. On the weekend that follows Valentine’s Day, our society’s celebration of romantic love, this performance will follow the emotional journey of lowering of one’s defenses, from expressing desire and devotion, challenging authority and conformity, risking injury, gaining consent, healing from brokenness, navigating through resentfulness, arriving at forgiveness, and emerging again into the world, ready to be vulnerable yet again.

Giving voice to texts by James Baldwin, Olympe de Gouges, Bei Dao, Paul Laurence Dunbar, e. e. cummings, Hāfez, Jennifer Powers, Rainier Maria Rilke, Rabindranath Tagore, and William Carlos Williams, The Esoterics’ VULNERABILITY will include music by Abbie Betinis, Anna-Karin Klockar, Evan Flory-Barnes, Reena Esmail, Ted Hearne, Jennifer Higdon, David Lang, Tebogo Monnakgotla, Roxanna Panufnik, August Read Thomas, Mari Ésabel Valverde, and a commissioned world premiere by New York composer Philip Wharton.

The Esoterics will offer three performances of VULNERABILITY.

Please join us as we encourage the openness of heart and mind.

22 February 2019 | 800pm | St Stephen’s Episcopal Church | 4805 NE 45th Street | Seattle
23 February 2019 | 800pm | Holy Rosary Catholic Church | 4210 SW Genesee Street | West Seattle
24 February 2019 | 700pm | Christ Episcopal Church | 310 North K Street | Tacoma


INCLUSIVITY | The power of togetherness

In the second program of its 26th concert season, The Esoterics will unveil the potential power of human togetherness, INCLUSIVITY. This performance will trace the origins of “otherness” in our first moments of life and explore how these emotions develop into exclusion at both the interpersonal and societal levels, resulting in divisiveness, xenophobia, shunning, persecution, violence, and the loneliness and wandering of exile. This program will also advocate for philoxenia – the desire to show hospitality and acceptance of strangers – which promotes the idea that we are stronger together, as an interdependent human community.

Singing texts in English, Hebrew, Indonesian, Mandarin, Quechua, and Spanish by Chairil Anwar, José María Arguedas, Li Ba, e. e. cummings, Vivian Eden, Bai Ju-Yi, Amy Beth Kirsten, Salman Masalha, Li Shang-Yin, Donald Woods Winnicott, Malala Yousafzai, Xu Yuan-Zhong, Chen Zi-Ang, The Esoterics’ INCLUSIVITY will feature music by Eric Banks, Melissa Dunphy, Sivan Eldar, Gabriela Lena Frank, Marisa Sharon Hartanto, Ted Hearne, David Lang, Kala Pierson, Christopher Theofanidis, August Read Thomas, and Chen Yi.

The Esoterics will offer three performances of INCLUSIVITY.

Please join us as we promote togetherness and interdependence.

17 May 2019 | 800pm | St Stephen’s Episcopal Church | 4805 NE 45th Street | Seattle
18 May 2019 | 800pm | Holy Rosary Catholic Church | 4210 SW Genesee Street | West Seattle
19 May 2019 | 700pm | Christ Episcopal Church | 310 North K Street | Tacoma


KVANDAL & BÄCK | A double centennial

In the summer program of its 26th concert season, The Esoterics will celebrate the life and work of two Scandinavian choral musicians who were born eight days apart: the Norwegian composer Johan KVANDAL (8 September), and the Swedish composer Sven-Erik BÄCK (16 September). Johan Kvandal was the son of a composer who frequented artist colonies in his youth and studied with Nadia Boulanger at the Conservatoire de Paris. With strong influences from both Norwegian folk and international contemporary musics, Kvandal developed his own language, a “modern tonality,” and spoke out strongly again the prevailing avant garde.

Kvandal’s Swedish contemporary, Sven-Erik Bäck, after completing his studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Stockholm, traveled to Rome to study with Goffredo Petrassi, a leading teacher of European modernism. While Bäck’s choral music sets conservative Biblical texts, his compositional treatment of these verses was anything but traditional. In this sacred program, The Esoterics will perform all twelve of Sven-Erik Bäck’s Motetter för kyrkoåret [Motets for the church year] in Swedish, as well as all of Johan Kvandal’s sacred works for unaccompanied choir: The ballad of peace, The miracle, Three motets, andSleepers, wake. This program will be a fascinating remembrance of KVANDAL and BÄCK, and their not-quite-parallel lives in choral music.

The Esoterics will offer only one single performance of KVANDAL & BÄCK.

Please join us as we celebrate the centennials of these composers at St James Cathedral!

14 September 2019 | 800pm | St James Cathedral | 804 9th Avenue | Seattle


HONESTY | The strength of sincerity

In the penultimate program of its 26th concert season, The Esoterics will honor the value and strength of sincerity, or HONESTY. This performance will examine the fragility of our minds that are incessantly bombarded with information, opinion, and pointless words. It will also encourage us to find grounding and peace in accepting the truth, to calm our restless or idle minds, to exercise self-control from speaking deceitfully, to find comfort in the unanswered question, to expect and embrace unavoidable change, to free ourselves from hatred, fear, and blindness, and to place our trust in good thoughts, words, and deeds.  Who knows? We might also tell you an elaborate lie.

Singing texts from a wide variety of sources, including: the ancient Greek Aethonians, the Dhammapada, the Tao te ching, Psalm 34, Brandon Elliott, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kathleen Raine, William Shakespeare, Rabindranath Tagore, Euan Tait, and George Graham Vest, The Esoterics’ HONESTY will feature music by Abbie Betinis, Samantha Fernando, Ted Hearne, Anna-Karin Klockar, Forrest Pierce, Fahad Siadat, Dale Trumbore, Trevor Weston, Julia Wolfe, and four world premiere commissions by this year’s POLYPHONOS winners: David Ho-yi Chan, Katherine Pukinskis, and Scott Senko, as well as a brand-new piece by Michael Bussewitz-Quarm.

The Esoterics will offer three performances of HONESTY.

Please join us as we advocate for the truth in all its forms.

18 October 2019 | 800pm | St Barnabas Episcopal Church | 1187 Wyatt Way NW | Bainbridge Island
19 October 2019 | 800pm | Holy Rosary Catholic Church | 4142 4210 SW Genesee Street | West Seattle
20 October 2019 | 300pm | St John’s Episcopal Church | 114 20th Avenue SE | Olympia


HUMILITY | The wish for simplicity

In the final program of its 26th concert season, The Esoterics will articulate our common desire for emotional simplicity, or HUMILITY. This performance will consider the origins of lowliness as a result of humiliation or hiding, surrender or sorrow, generosity or gratitude. It will also examine the various different contexts in which we find ourselves humble: while tenderly in love, while patiently or hopefully in need, while meekly witnessing the majesty of nature.

Giving voice to verses from the Bible (John and Galatians), a Mohawk prayer, a speech by Chief Joseph (Hinmuuttu Yalatlat) of the Nez Perce, poems by Pablo Antonio Cuadra, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Annie Finch, Amy Fleury, Gary Snyder, and Dylan Thomas, The Esoterics’ HUMILITY will feature music by Gabriela Lena Frank, Stacy Garrop, Anna-Karin Klockar, Forrest Pierce, Sarah Rimkus, Sarah Riskind, Augusta Read Thomas, and Dale Trumbore.

The Esoterics will offer three performances of HUMILITY.

Please join us as we foster modesty, empathy, restraint, and respect.

13 December 2019 | 800pm | St Stephen’s Episcopal Church | 4805 NE 45th Street | Seattle
14 December 2019 | 800pm | Holy Rosary Catholic Church | 4210 SW Genesee Street | West Seattle
15 December 2019 | 700pm | Christ Episcopal Church | 310 North K Street | Tacoma



Abbie Betinis
Anna-Karin Klockar
Augusta Read Thomas
Chen Yi
Christopher Theofanidis
Dale Trumbore
David Hi-yo Chan
David Lang
Eric Banks
Evan Flory-Barnes
Fahad Siadat
Forrest Pierce
Gabriela Lena Frank
Jennifer Higdon
Johan Kvandal
Julia Wolfe
Kala Pierson
Katherine Pukinskis
Mari Ésabel Valverde
Marisa Sharon Hartanto
Melissa Dunphy
Michael Bussewitz-Quarm
Philip Wharton
Reena Esmail
Roxanna Panufnik
Samantha Fernando
Sarah Rimkus
Sarah Riskind
Scott Senko
Sivan Eldar
Stacy Garrop
Sven-Erik Bäck
Tebogo Monnakgotla
Ted Hearne
Trevor Weston