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2022 | AS PALMEIRAS | The mystery of the palms

For the first concert of The Esoterics’ 2022 Season will be the North American premiere of Eric Banks’ As palmeiras: The palms. Commissioned for the RAMOS Festival in Lisbon, The Esoterics premiered this piece on Palm Sunday in 2018 in Portugal. The piece was then premiered by the choirs Cantus Firmus and Madrigal de Brasilia, Brazil on Palm Sunday in 2019. The Esoterics was in the midst of preparing for the Seattle premiere of The palms when the pandemic struck in March of 2020. Two years later, we are excited to share this choral sojourn with you on the weekend of Palm Sunday.

The inspiration for As palmeiras came from the inital wondering: “Why the palms?” When Christians mark the entry of Christ into Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week, why did they lay palm fronds at his feet? What was it about the palm that signified royalty? In his research about the symbolism of the palm tree, composer Eric Banks found, collected, and arranged 37 different poems, adages, proverbs, and texts from cultures around the world and through various eras of human history.

In addition to its connotation of royalty, the palm in the desert can symbolize salvation (as one sees an oasis in the desert), or bounty (with the rich sweetness of its fruits). The tree also has grown to stand for luxury, and the rest that accompanies a tropical vacation.  Since a single palm seed can traverse an entire ocean to plant itself on a distant shore, the palm represents fertility; and since this seed (often as a coconut) travels such long distances alone, the palm has also come to represent exile. Also, let’s not forget the worldwide demand for palm oil, and resulting environmental crisis that the greed for this commodity has caused.

For his concert-length composition, Banks chose to present these texts about the palm in various textures – for solo voice, for small ensemble, for only treble and bass voices, and for full mixed choir. The texts of As palmeiras traverse the entire globe longitudinally; the 37 vignettes start in California, head east, and end on the island of Tahiti. Banks’ composition is a fascinating study of an unlikely subject; setting texts from 33 countries in 24 different languages, The palms creates a ear-opening concert experience.

The Esoterics will offer THREE performances of The palms. The running time of the piece is about 75 minutes. Our Seattle performances will be in an “open-dress rehearsal” format, with two performances on the same evening. Our Olympia concert is sponsored by the St John’s Concert Series. The suggested donation for each performance is $20.

Friday | 8 April 2022 | 7:00pm | Queen Anne Christian Church | 1316 3rd Avenue W | Seattle
Friday | 8 April 2022 | 8:30pm | Queen Anne Christian Church | 1316 3rd Avenue W | Seattle
Saturday | 9 April 2022 | 3:00pm | St John’s Episcopal Church | 114 20th Avenue SE | Olympia

For this concert, there will be no tickets issued in advance. The ensemble will be singing unmasked (all members are fully vaccinated, boosted, and will be tested on the concert day). We are requesting that our audience members please wear a mask in order to attend the concert. Our performance space in Seattle has a maximum capacity of 80 people, so we are asking all of our audience to reserve their seats in advance. Please click HERE to reserve your seat.

We are so excited to be able to sing for you again! Please join us, if you can, for The palms.