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Now in its twenty-ninth season, Seattle’s most innovative chorus has drawn local, national, and international praise for performing rarely-heard compositions of contemporary music for unaccompanied voices, for infusing elements of the literary, theatrical, and visual arts into the typical concert experience, and for performing settings of poetry, philosophy, and spiritual writings from around the world.
In early 1992, Eric Banks brought together a group of singing friends to perform his Master’s and Doctoral recitals in Choral Studies at the University of Washington. After Banks’ recitals were completed, the group wanted to keep singing together, so Banks chose a name for his ensemble based on the Greek adjective εσοτερικος – which describes a close-knit community and the secret knowledge that its members share.
Since incorporating with this name in 1993, The Esoterics has performed over 500 concerts throughout the Pacific Northwest, has commissioned and premiered more than 250 new works for a cappella voices in dozens of languages, and has mastered many of the most virtuosic choral compositions of the last century in concerts described as “compelling” and “crafted,” “luxuriant” and “lyrical,” “sumptuous” and “superb.”
The Esoterics has released twenty-one CD recordings, which have been favorably reviewed in The Gramophone and American Record Guide. The ensemble has competed in the 2000 Cork International Choral Festival (Ireland), the 2001 Certamen Coral de Tolosa (Spain), and the 2006 Harald Andersén International Choir Competition in Helsinki (Finland), and performed in the Ramos XII festival in Lisbon, Portugal.
Always on the search for the next choral masterpiece, The Esoterics inaugurated its annual choral composition competition, POLYPHONOS, in 2006. Through this competition, The Esoterics awards commissions to three composers each year – a national winner, an international winner, and a young winner (under age 30). As well, The Esoterics has demonstrated its commitment to choral education as the only choral ensemble in Washington State that grants continuing-education credit to its members who teach in the public schools.
In recognition for its efforts in choral education and innovation, The Esoterics has been honored five times with the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for the Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music (in 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2017). The Esoterics has also been honored to receive grants from the arts commissions of Washington State, King County, and the City of Seattle, as well as from ArtsFund, The Ann Stookey Fund for Music, The Cricket Foundation, The Horizons Foundation, The Seattle Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the Aaron Copland Fund for New Music.
The Esoterics is a proud member of the American Choral Director’s Association, Chorus America, the International Federation for Choral Music, and GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses