Seraphic Fire to mark 10th season with expansion and varied lineup from Adams to Victoria

By David Fleshler

Seraphic Fire will celebrate its 10th anniversary season with the addition of Miami and Boca Raton to its roster of performance venues, an all-new version of its popular Christmas program, and performances of one of Bach’s greatest masterpieces, the Mass in B minor.

The Miami chamber choir will offer a combination of classic choral works, history-oriented shows built around themes such as the Tudor Dynasty, contemporary American music and discoveries from the more obscure corners of the choral repertoire. The choir will extend its list of performances venues to St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church in Miami and St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Boca Raton, both of which have hosted the choir’s Christmas concerts but have not otherwise been on the regular schedule.

The eight concert programs announced for the coming season represent a reduction from the nine being done this season. And for the first time in five years, the choir will not perform Handel’s Messiah.

Lorenzo Lebrija, Seraphic Fire’s president and chief executive officer, said the reduction actually leaves the same number of concerts, if not programs, as last year, and is also intended to leave space in the schedule for yet-to-be-announced tours. As for Handel’s perennial oratorio, he said audiences and ticket sales have made clear that annual performances are excessive, with performances every two or three years more likely to give the concerts a sense of occasion.

The season opens Oct. 19 at St. Jude Melkite Catholic Church with “The Death of Victoria: A Requiem for the Renaissance.” One of the choir’s more theatrical offerings, it will be built around the death of the composer Tomás Luis de Victoria, whose Requiem will be performed along with works of predecessors and contemporaries, such as Lassus and Palestrina.

The Firebird Chamber Orchestra, created to accompany the choir, will play the next series of concerts on its own, with the choir taking a break. The program, which will be performed Nov. 16-20, includes Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings, Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No. 8 in D Major and Mozart’s Divertimento in D Major, K. 136.

Among the Seraphic Fire events quickest to sell out over the years has been the choir’s Christmas concerts, candle-lit performances that draw on hundreds of years of music. The program, performed Dec.7-11, will be completely new this season and will include world premieres of artistic director Patrick Dupré Quigley’s arrangements of Silent Night and O Holy Night.

Current and former members of Seraphic Fire will join together to celebrate the ensemble’s 10th anniversary for a series of concerts from Jan. 11-15. The choir will perform works by young composers from whom it had previously commissioned works, such as Sydney Guillaume and Alvaro Bermudez, as well as the 18th century American choral composer William Billings.

Bach’s B-Minor Mass, one of the greatest works of the choral repertoire, will be performed by the choir and the Firebird Chamber Orchestra at just two concerts Feb. 10 and 11 at All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale and Trinity Episcopal Church in Miami.

The music of 15th and 16th century England will be the focus of the next series, called “The Tudors: A Musical Tapestry,” to be performed March 14-18. Performing works from the 15th century Eton Choirbook, as well as by Thomas Tallis and William Byrd, the choir will trace “the stunning musical legacy of England’s most memorable first family,” according to the news release.

The Firebird Chamber Orchestra will be on its own for the next series, running April 18-22, which will feature “Hoe-Down” from Copland’s Rodeo, John Adams’ Shaker Loops and Ginastera’s Concerto per corde.

The final concert series, running May 9-13, will draw on the Baroque music of Latin America, where Spanish composers wrote music for the region’s churches, towns and haciendas. Among the composers heard will be Antonio de Salazar, Ignacio de Jerusalem, Manuel de Zumaya, Tomás de Torrejón y Velasco and Juan de Araujo.

For more information, go to or call 305-285-9060.

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Tue Mar 15, 2011
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