As the days get shorter, the darkness closes in and we all start lighting our houses and yards, there’s no greater time for contrast between light and dark. Which is exactly what “chiaroscuro” means: literally, in Italian, “clear-obscure.” It’s a painterly technique perfected in the Renaissance and Baroque in both art and music (think Caravaggio, Rembrandt, then Bach and Handel) to create focus and mystery through luminosity and shadow.
Following in their footsteps, a cappella choir The Esoterics will sing “Chiaroscura” this Sunday at Christ Episcopal Church, a program contrasting musical light and darkness.
The Esoterics are a hidden Northwest jewel, continuously presenting vocal music that is challenging or unknown, yet incredibly well-sung (their sopranos are to die for) and thought-provoking, like a flower-meditation on the Columbine shootings or a 90-minute litany by Arvo Part.
Here’s what they say about “Chiaroscura,” which includes music by Joubert, Strauss and Schnittke:
“Each of these pieces sets verses from a prayer, litany, or meditation (by the likes of Friedrich Ruckert and St. Augustine), and reflects how various forms of light and dark – good and evil, known and unknown, truth and falsehood – are at once highly contrasting and inextricably interdependent.”
“Chiaroscura” is at 3 p.m. December 6 at Christ Episcopal Church, 310 N. K St., Tacoma. $20 at door/$18 advance/$15 seniors, students, un(der)employed/$10 for any active choral member. 206-935-7779, www.theesoterics.org