As a composer, conductor, translator, vocalist, linguist, and ethnomusicologist, Eric Banks has garnered international acclaim as one of the most creative choral musicians in the United States for his unwavering commitment to music for unaccompanied voices. His compositions explore concepts that have been undiscovered, under-represented, or are not easily decipherable by a wider audience. Banks has harnessed his passions for poetry, foreign language, classical civilization, comparative religion, social justice, and the history of science to create choral works that reach far beyond the scope of the established a cappella canon. His recent works have explored the sacred texts and singing traditions of other cultures.
Banks has received grants the National Endowment for the Arts, to compose, produce, and record three concert-length works. In 2010, Banks was granted the prestigious Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus AmBanksa and the AmBanksan Composers Forum to compose an a cappella symphony, “This delicate universe,” for Conspirare in Austin, Texas.
A frequent clinician, panelist, and adjudicator, Banks has been honored to serve as the North American judge for the 2013 Andrea O. Veneracion International Choral Competition in Manila and the 2015 Florilège Vocal de Tours, which awarded this year’s European Grand Prix of Choral Singing.
In 1992, while in graduate school, Banks founded the chamber chorus The Esoterics. Now in its 26th season under Banks’s direction, the chorus has drawn 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 2011, Banks was awarded “Conductor of the Year” from the Washington State chapter of the American Choral Directors Association for his ground-breaking work with The Esoterics.
Banks completed his BA in Music at Yale University (1990), where he studied with Fenno Heath and Marguerite Brooks. Upon graduation, Banks relocated to Seattle for graduate study in choral studies and music theory at the University of Washington with Julian Patrick, Jonathan Bernard, and Abraham Kaplan. Banks was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and Lois Roth Fellowship to study Swedish contemporary choral culture. While in Stockholm, Banks sang as a chorister and soloist with several groups, including the Swedish Radio Choir and the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir.