AETHERIA: Music of the sky, air, and atmosphere

Eric Banks (Director), Eric Banks (Composer), Stef Conner (Composer), Greg Simon (Composer), Dale Trumbore (Composer), Aulis Sallinen (Composer), Kirke Mechem (Composer), Jaakko Mäntyjärvi (Composer), Zachary Wadsworth (Composer), David Gellman (Designer), Markdavin Obenza (Editor), Eric Banks (Producer), The Esoterics (Performer)

Research output: Non-textual formDigital or Visual Products


The last album in The Esoterics' series of three “choral ecologies”, AETHERIA is a collection of music that draws its inspiration from the ever-changing breath of the earth and the creatures who inhabit our skies.

For this project, which included a series of performances in and around Seattle, the three winners of the Esoterics' 2014 POLYPHONOS Composition Competition were each commissioned to choose and set a text that, for them, evoked the project's “airy” theme. For the piece entitled Lyft, Stef Conner set three riddles in Old English from the Anglo-Saxon Exeter Book (Codex Exoniesis); in his piece, Pneuma, Greg Simon (Ann Arbor, MI) set poetry by his wife, Jodi-Renee Giron, contemplating 'breath' as a metaphor for the spirit. Dale Trumbore (Los Angeles, CA), set Barbara Crooker’s poem, After the Storm Passes, which describes a sinuous journey on the wind after the rain.

Other works on AETHERIA include The Beaufort Scale, a humoresque by Aulis Sallinen based on the Beaufort wind force scale, which relates wind speed to observed conditions on land or sea; Winging Wildly, a triptych of avian poems (by Sara Teasdale, Paul Dunbar, and Siegfried Sassoon), set by Kirke Mechem; Nine Sunset Watercolors, by Finnish composer Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, in which a constellation of vocal quartets sing haiku-like vignettes in sequence; and To the Roaring Wind, by former POLYPHONOS winner Zachary Wadsworth, which was composed for Dominick DiOrio’s Contemporary Vocal Ensemble at Indiana University. In Wadsworth’s setting, every phoneme of this four-line stanza by Wallace Stevens is stretched beyond recognition, into a 'storm' of extended choral sounds. Completing the disc is Founding Director Eric Banks’ four-movement work, The Syrian Seasons, each movement of which is based on lines from Nizar Qabbani’s One hundred love letters, sung in both Arabic and English.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSeattle, USA
EditionTER 1915
Media of outputCD
Size13 tracks; 74 minutes
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2016

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