ÆONIA will begin with an unaccompanied choral symphony by Donald Skirvin, in which he sets eleven poems by the American poetess Sara Teasdale. Stars forever, while we sleep, Skirvin’s most reflective and virtuosic work to date, was commissioned and premiered by The Esoterics in 2009. Having served as composer-in-residence with the ensemble since 1997, this will be Skirvin’s final concert series in this role. The Esoterics will honor Don as he takes on the role of “emeritus composer,” and we wish him well.
The three winners of this year’s POLYPHONOS competition have each received a $1000 commission, and will be coming to Seattle in order to work with The Esoterics, meet its audience, and speak about their work in concert. The winning “young composer,” Stephen Feigenbaum (from Winchester MA) has written a piece with the title Come back, setting a poem by the British novelist and poet Henry William Herbert. This year’s winning “national composer,” Joseph Gregorio (from West Chester PA) has set three Prayers by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet John Gould Fletcher. The winning “international composer,” Iman Habibi (from Vancouver BC) has completed The rose of midnight, setting a poem by Vachel Lindsay – who happened to be romantically connected to Sara Teasdale.
The final work of this concert by Eric Banks will set verses by Dan-Eric Slocum, a friend of The Esoterics who took his own life in February 2012. Slocum was a local journalist (at KOMO News) and poet, who published his own verse in a blog called The eternity door. Before Slocum’s death, he and Banks had planned to collaborate together on a new choral work. After his suicide, Banks gained the permission to sculpt excerpts from Slocum’s poetry into a 20-minute stream-of-consciousness meditation – on life, its struggles, and the hereafter – for double chorus a cappella. Banks then gave this piece a title that borrows from the final image of Slocum’s poetry – from within a symphony of butterflies – I am among them.
In the past, The Esoterics has been known for taking musical risks and addressing themes of social justice. With this concert, the group will continue its efforts along this path, of inspiring social consciousness through its art. Marking September as “suicide prevention month,” each composer who wrote for ÆONIA was asked to set “eternal” verses penned by poets who lost their lives by their own hand. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from this concert series will be donated to Beyond the Bridge, a local foundation that supports LGBTQ youth at risk of suicide. For more information about this initiative and its mission, please visit www.beyond-the-bridge.org.
Please join The Esoterics for these upcoming events for ÆONIA:
Friday ∙ 20 September 2013 ∙ 7pm ∙ Queen Anne
Open Dress Rehearsal with composers for ÆONIA
Queen Anne Christian Church ∙ 1316 3rd Avenue West
Saturday ∙ 21 September 2013 ∙ 8 pm ∙ Seattle
Concert with reception to follow
St Joseph Catholic Church ∙ 732 18th Avenue East
Sunday ∙ 22 September 2013 ∙ 2pm ∙ West Seattle
Holy Rosary Catholic Church ∙ 4142 42nd Avenue Southwest