The Esoterics

Composer Samuel Barber’s strengths were affectingly reticent lyricism and an equally unassuming craftsmanship, which have made his Violin Concerto, the orchestral song Knoxville: Summer of 1915, and his greatest hit, the Adagio for string orchestra, beloved repertory standards. (For all their aching pathos, those upwardly curling lines in the Adagio are based on note patterns of Apollonian simplicity: 123 234 345 456. . . ) But thanks to 20th-century music’s vicious style wars, those were gifts many of his more “progressive” colleagues were unable or unwilling to appreciate. In response, Barber occasionally, ill-advisedly, raised his voice—resulting in some turgid orchestral works. Naturally it’ll be the his better side that The Esoterics celebrate this weekend and next in concerts marking his 100th birthday (March 9, actually). Under Eric Banks, this expert a cappella choir sings his complete choral works, including the Agnus Dei Barber arranged from his ever-popular Adagio. At Plymouth Congregational Church, 1217 Sixth Ave., 7:30 p.m. Thurs., March 11, and Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 4142 42nd Ave. S.W., 3 p.m. Sun., March 14. GAVIN BORCHERT

Thu., March 11, 7:30 p.m.; Sun., March 14, 3 p.m., 2010

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