An ambitious, wide-ranging season on tap for Seraphic Fire in 2019-20

By Lawrence Budmen

Patrick Quigley and Seraphic Fire will present "The Enlightenment," a two-week festival in the 2019-20 season.

Patrick Quigley and Seraphic Fire will present a two-week “Enlightenment Festival” in the 2019-20 season.

A two-week festival of music by Haydn, Handel and Bach and a complete performance of Handel’s Messiah highlight Seraphic Fire’s 2019-2020 season.

“For our eighteenth season, we wanted to provide audiences with an opportunity to explore the rich historical and multi-cultural tapestry of choral music,” artistic director Patrick Quigley said in a released statement. From the music of the Medieval nun Hildegard of Bingen to the Ave Maria by twentieth century German composer Franz Biebl, the season spans nearly eight hundred years of choral composition.

From February 12-23, 2020, the choir will present “The Enlightenment Festival.” Multiple performances of four different programs will feature choir members and instrumentalists in solo as well as ensemble repertoire. The festival will open with mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski and fortepianist Leon Schelhese performing Haydn’s cantata Ariana a Naxos. Guy Fishman will play Bach’s Cello Suites on a period Baroque cello. Soprano Margot Rood will be the soloist in the “Coffee Cantata” and “Wedding Cantata,” comprising a program devoted to Bach’s secular vocal music. The festival will conclude with Handel’s pastoral masque Acis and Galatea. Soprano Kathryn Mueller, one of the choir’s bright lights in past seasons, returns as Galatea and tenor Steven Soph plays Acis.

After presenting only excerpts from Handel’s most famous oratorio in the past several seasons, Quigley will conduct the group’s first complete Messiah since 2004 on April 15-19.

Quigley opens the season November 6-10 with von Bingen’s Ordo Virtutun (Play of Virtues) for female voices. Associate conductor James K. Bass will again lead the popular Seraphic Fire Christmas concerts (December 11-20).

Elena Sharkova, who led the choir in 2017, returns with a program of Russian choral music January 15-20. Swedish conductor Ragnar Bohlin, director of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, helms “Northern Lights: Music of Scandinavia” (March 11-15). Bass concludes this ambitious season with a concert of works for male chorus (May 15-10), focusing on Biebl’s Ave Maria.

Seraphic Fire will again present its Professional Choral Institute, a training program for choral ensemble singers, at the Aspen Music Festival in August, 2019. In addition to performing a side by side concert with the institute’s fellows, the choir will join the Aspen Festival Orchestra and the Colorado Symphony Chorus for performances of Bach’s cantata Gottes Zelt ist dier allerbeste Zeit and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (“Resurrection”) on August 18.

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