Monday, May 21, 2007

Seraphic Fire's "Sway"

Yesterday afternoon I heard Seraphic Fire, Miami's professional chamber choir, performing a concert of Baroque and contemporary music, mostly sacred and by Latin composers. At first glance they seem a lot like the New World Symphony for vocalists, with exciting programming and young singers just launching their careers. Unlike New World though, most of Seraphic Fire's members live outside the area, and they fly in for a week of rehearsals and concerts every month or so. It's a bit like the Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra, a group I got to play with in Boston.

The program was entitled "Sway", and it gave you an idea how a Sunday afternoon in Lima, Peru in the 1690's might sound and feel (the air conditioning in the church was broken, so that possibly contributed to the atmosphere). A lot of gorgeous, soaring music came at us antiphonally from all sides, and then a secular song praising the sun, accompanied by guitar. Later in the program they featured a world premiere by Seraphic Fire member Alvaro Bermudez, and another by Sydney Guillaume, a young Haitian composer living in Miami. And they were joined by the Coral Reef High School's choir in a contemporary mass setting by Ariel Ramirez, Misa Criolla, with operatic solo tenor and baritone voices over a swaying Latin beat, accompanied by guitar, churango (a smaller guitar, like a mandolin), and bombo (a drum). Sacred or not, the music was grooving, the choir was swaying, and you almost wanted to get up and start dancing along.

Next season Seraphic Fire will be back performing in Miami Beach's Community Church, along with churches in Fort Lauderdale and Coral Gables, and their debut in the Carnival Center with Handel's Messiah. They'll also sing a Schubert Mass with the New World Symphony, next April at the Lincoln Theatre.

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