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Seraphic Fire burns brightly at St. Bart's
by Gabrielle Tinto for Vocal Area Network
Posted March 21, 2008

Seraphic FireSeraphic Fire, Miami's acclaimed professional chamber choir, makes its much-anticipated Manhattan debut at St. Bartholomew's Church on April 4, 2008 at 7:30 PM with a daring, eclectic program celebrating Miami's musical roots. "Sway: Music of Miami!" will feature what has become a hallmark of the group--contemporary and early music from American, Caribbean and Latin American composers. The program will highlight three works commissioned by the ensemble from living composers. Haitian-born Sydney Guillaume's Dominus Vobiscum interweaves Gregorian melodies with Creole texts and rhythms. Padre Nuestro by Colombian-American composer Alvaro Bermudez re-envisions the pasillo (a traditional Colombian dance form) through a modern lens. The transcription of an acoustic version of Ingram Marshall's Hymnodic Delays was commissioned from Suzanne Hatcher, longtime singer with Seraphic Fire and Professor of Vocal Studies at William Jewel College in Kansas.

Seraphic Fire has quickly established itself as one of the nation's top professional choirs, Gramophone magazine proclaiming Seraphic Fire a "treasure…no group programmes more adventurously." Seraphic Fire was founded by Artistic Director Patrick Dupré Quigley as a group which would bring the best ensemble singers from around the country to perform rarely-heard early and contemporary music in a user-friendly environment.

Critics and audiences alike have applauded Seraphic Fire's approach to concerts. "We wanted to do away with the Kabuki of classical music," says Quigley. "No formalized bowing, no tuxedos, no austere 4th wall between performers and audience--just amazing music performed at the highest level in a relaxed atmosphere." This approach has succeeded-- Seraphic Fire's programs attract a mix of ages and cultural backgrounds, and bring what the Miami New Times calls an "energy and soul to the typically staid world of chamber music."

Founded in 2002 by Artistic Director Patrick Dupré Quigley, Seraphic Fire began its career as a little-known local treasure specializing in early and new music, praised by the press for their "smart, polished, historically-informed" (The South Florida Sun-Sentinel) performances. In very little time, Seraphic Fire rose to the top ranks of Miami's music scene. The young ensemble's virtuosity and style caught the attention of international pop-music star Shakira, leading her to invite the ensemble to collaborate on her album Oral Fixation Vol. 2. Seraphic Fire's appearance on the platinum-selling chart-topper made it one of the few classical music ensembles recently listed among the top 5 of the Billboard Pop Charts. In November of 2005, the vocal ensemble was contacted by Miami's renowned New World Symphony to collaborate on a concert of Bach and Vivaldi. Seraphic Fire will join the symphony again this April for a performance of Schubert's Mass in E-flat, under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas. On December 21, 2007, Seraphic Fire made its Knight Concert Hall debut at Miami's Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, South Florida's premier concert venue. The group then rapidly gained a reputation as "the smartest, most creative and consistently excellent classical music ticket in South Florida" (The South Florida Sun-Sentinel). Artistic Director Quigley was featured in Ocean Drive Magazine, who credited the young ensemble with "putting a fresh, hip face on classical music."

Seraphic Fire has expanded in other ways as well. Its repertoire now includes works both classical and contemporary, sacred and secular. Over the past three seasons, Seraphic Fire has commissioned and premiered works by up-and-coming young composers including Matthew Barnson, Sydney Guillaume and Alvaro Bermudez.  In 2005, Seraphic Fire commissioned a 50-minute work from 28 year-old composer Shawn Crouch, The Road from Hiroshima: A Requiem, which was subsequently nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. In recognition of their efforts to promote the creation of and to premier new works, ASCAP awarded to Seraphic Fire the ASCAP/Chorus America/Alice Parker award for adventurous programming in 2006. International classical music magazine Gramophone called Seraphic Fire "[o]ne of the most exciting and unexpected developments on the local scene . . . chamber choir Seraphic Fire . . . has quickly become one of the top attractions in the region." Recent concerts by Seraphic Fire have included: "Sephardic Fire: a program of Sephardic folk music and new works by Jewish composers"; "Sway: an evening of compositions by Latin-American and Haitian-American composers"; a concert version of Henry Purcell's opera Dido and Aeneas; and "Amazing Grace: A Gospel and Bluegrass Journey."
Seraphic Fire has released three CD recordings to date: Beginnings (2005), a mix of all a cappella works from its fourth season; Bach's Six Motets (2006), performed with one voice on a part; and a live-in-concert recording of Handel's Messiah (2007).

The founding Artistic Director of Seraphic Fire, Miami's highly acclaimed and successful professional chamber choir, Patrick Dupré Quigley has conducted ensembles throughout North America, Europe, China, and Israel. He is the recipient of the 2004 Robert Shaw Fellowship, given annually by the National Endowment for the Arts and Chorus America to one conductor between the ages of 25 and 40 who demonstrates the potential for a significant professional career. At 26, Mr. Quigley was the youngest person to ever receive this award. In October 2006, he was one of 16 conductors from around the world invited to Stockholm, Sweden to compete in the tri-annual Eric Ericson Award.

Patrick Dupré Quigley received his M.Mus. in Conducting from Yale University, where he studied on a full scholarship. He earned a B.A. in Musicology from the University of Notre Dame, and is a graduate of the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy's Fundraising School.

Alvaro Bermudez was born in White Plains, NY to Colombian parents. He began making music professionally at the age of 15. After studying and playing folk music in Colombia, he returned to the United States to study music formally. He earned an Associate's Degree from Indian River Community College in and a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz from Florida International University. He also pursued studies in voice with Edward Pierson and classical guitar with Carlos Molina. He is currently completing a Master's Degree in Jazz from Florida International University. Mr. Bermudez has won both the Treasure Coast Symphony concerto competition and the Treasure Coast Jazz Society Scholarship. He was also awarded a Wertheim Fellowship at Florida International to continue his studies. He is a highly sought after guitar teacher and plays with his Latin group, El Trio Clasico throughout South Florida. Padre Nuestro (The Lord's Prayer) is set by Mr. Bermudez as a Colombian pasillo, a rhythm influenced by the Viennese waltz and the music of the indigenous people of the Andes Mountains.

Sydney Guillaume, originally from Port-au-Prince, Haiti came to the United States at the age of eleven. In Miami, Florida, he attended the magnet program at Coral Reef Senior High, where he continued his studies in piano. Sydney then went on to the University of Miami where he earned his Bachelor's degree in Composition with emphasis in Media Writing and Production in 2004. He studied composition with Dr. Robert Gower and piano with Dr. Rosalina Sackstein. Sydney joined the University Chorale under the direction of Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe, an experience which instilled in him a great passion for choral music. Since then he has written several choral works which have won numerous awards and competitions and have been performed throughout the world. His choral compositions Kalinda and Touched in Love are published with Walton Music and Colla Voce. Sydney takes great pride in his Haitian roots; his love for his homeland is one his greatest inspirations. While his compositions are often personal, he also hopes that his music will serve as an ambassador for his country and create an awareness of the beautiful Haitian culture that exists amidst the economic and political turmoil. Sydney now resides in Los Angeles, California where he is composing and teaching.

Currently living in Connecticut, composer Ingram Marshall has lived and worked extensively in the San Francisco Bay Area. Educated at Lake Forest College, Columbia University, where he worked with Vladimir Ussachevsky, and California Institute of the Arts, where he worked with Morton Subotnick, Marshall went on to study gamelan music in Bali and Java in 1971. Over the next several years, Marshall further cultivated his interest in Indonesian music and continued the experimental work in electronic music. Certain characteristics of Marshall's music, such as the slowed-down sense of time and use of melodic repetition, can be traced to his study of Indonesian music. These characteristics can be heard in his earlier works such as Fog Tropes and Gradual Requiem, as well as in his more recent Penitential Visions and Sinfonia Dolce far Niente. Marshall has performed his own live electronic music in the U.S. and Europe, and has collaborated with various artists and choreographers including photographer Jim Bengston and choreographers Stuart Pimsler and Paula Josa-Jones. Marshall has been the recipient of awards, grants and commissions from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fromm Foundation, California Arts Council, the Washington State Arts Commission and others.
Tickets are $20/$15 and may be purchased through the St. Bartholomew Church box office at 212-378-0248 or online at www.stbarts.org. St. Bartholomew's Church is located at the corner of Park Avenue and 51st Street.

Gabrielle Tinto is Director of Public Relations for Seraphic Fire.

Content Contact: Gabrielle Tinto.
Revision Date: March 21, 2008.
Technical Contact: Steve Friedman.

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