GSCC Member Event

The atlas of the way

Hosting Ensemble: The Esoterics
Event Type: Concert
Ticket Prices: $15-20
Event Dates:
Saturday, October 15, 2022Oct 15, 2022, 8:00pm at Christ Episcopal Church, Tacoma, WA
Sunday, October 16, 2022Oct 16, 2022, 4:00pm at Plymouth Congregational Church, Seattle, WA


In THE VALLEYS, The Esoterics is excited to present a world-premiere commission by Forrest Farhad Pierce: The atlas of the way. Originally from the Columbia Plateau of Washington state, Pierce is now Professor of Composition at the University of Kansas, a member of the faculty of the Cortona Sessions for New Music, a wayfarer of both mountains and valleys, and a teacher of Sufism in the Inayati tradition. Pierce writes music of meditative stillness and ecstatic virtuosity that is rooted in a deep connection to the natural world.

In his Atlas, Pierce has created a concert-length a cappella choral work based on the epic Sufi poem, The conference of the birds [Mantiq ut-Tair], by Farid ud-Din Attar (1145-1221). As both poet and composer, Pierce has distilled nearly five thousand couplets of this ancient poem into a nine-movement work, with eight interludes (called sohbets). Pierce's piece describes the journey of a gathering of curious birds who are led by their teacher - the hoopoe - to learn of their own origin. Through this vast landscape, the birds traverse seven evocatively-named valleys - of farawayfaring, lovestruckness, kenning, enoughing, onement, wonderstruckness, and noughtness - each representing a Sufi maqam, or spiritual station of progress. Between each musical valley, Pierce's interstitial sohbets capture quiet, intimate conversations between student and teacher in which they reflect on this spiritual journey.

THE VALLEYS. Concert art by David Gellman
THE VALLEYS. Concert art by David Gellman
The Esoterics. December 2019. Photo credit Bruce Weber
The Esoterics. December 2019. Photo credit Bruce Weber