For vocal students, the transition from college to professional choirs can feel impossible. Miami's only professional choral ensemble is working to change that this summer.
Seraphic Fire, a Grammy-nominated choral chamber ensemble founded in 2002, will be hosting its first professional choral institute at the Aspen Music Festival in Colorado from Aug. 10 to-23.
The Aspen festival is among the top intensive music institutions in the U.S., but it hasn't had a regular choral program in recent decades, according to Seraphic Fire Executive Director Rhett Del Campo. This year, 40 ensemble vocalists from around the world will learn from Seraphic Fire in Aspen.
Del Campo says the professional choral institute will be an invaluable resource for singers.
"You're going to walk away from this with a direct path to a professional career," Del Campo said.
Preparing the next batch of professional choral singers is a unique challenge, Del Campo said. There are only a small number of professional choral ensembles in the country, with many cities having only volunteer-based choirs. Seraphic Fire and other professional ensembles must fuel their own survival.
"One of our challenges is to keep pouring talent into this indsutry," Del Campo said. "There's a bit of a shortage of talent."
One reason for the talent shortage: "To become a professional vocal ensemble singer in the past, there wasn't a clear path," Del Campo said. There were no prepatory programs like Seraphic Fire's that specialized in ensemble training.
"Some of the singers in our ensemble, it's a very random path that they had to take [to get here]," Del Campo said. "So now we're trying to create that clear path."
In Aspen, members of Seraphic Fire will teach young singers insider tips about the industry that they didn't have access to themselves in the past. Students will also perform alongside their teachers for public audiences.
Compared to the Aspen Music Festival, Miami has a small classical music infrastructure. Del Campo says he wants people in Aspen to see that Miami has been producing top-notch professional choral music for a long time.
People think of the East Coast when they think of professional choral music, and not Miami, he said. Seraphic Fire is going to Colorado so that they can bring strong singers back to South Florida. The festival includes auditions with contractors, so it's a direct oppotunity for employment.
"We are now educating the new singers that will eventually sing with Seraphic Fire," Del Campo said.
"If we're doing our jobs right, eventually when people graduate, there is enough work to be had in Miami as a singer, as a teacher, that they actually choose to settle here in Miami," Del Campo said.