© 2024 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bumping Lady Gaga off the charts? Just one of the high notes from Seraphic Fire's first 20 years

Seraphic Fire Founder and Artistic Director Patrick Dupre Quigley (foreground) and members of the professional choral ensemble.
Southern Land Films
Seraphic Fire Founder and Artistic Director Patrick Dupre Quigley (foreground) and members of the professional choral ensemble.

In 2010, the year that The Social Network hit movie theaters, a piece of vocal music that's over 400 years old finally got what Patrick Dupre Quigley calls "its viral moment."

Miami-based Seraphic Fire, the professional choral ensemble founded by Quigley, had recorded a robust version of Claudio Monteverdi's Vespers of the Blessed Virgin. The piece was composed in 1610 and is considered one of the greatest choral works of all time.

Seraphic Fire released it themselves on CD and on iTunes, where it hit the No. 1 spot on the classical chart and briefly topped Lady Gaga's The Fame Monster on the iTunes all-genre chart.

It was just one of the watershed moments for the ensemble, widely known for tackling works that are rarely performed — from Baroque and Renaissance music to newly commissioned pieces by living composers.

And now, it's capping off its 20th anniversary season with a program that includes both the oldest and newest pieces in its repertoire.

READ MORE:'A dream come true': Meet Stéphane Denève, the New World Symphony's new artistic director

Quigley says that when he founded Seraphic Fire in 2002, he wanted to show South Florida what a professional choral ensemble could do.

"The really thrilling audio and visual experience that one gets from being in a live performance with people who are making music with only their bodies as instruments," Quigley says.

Another red-letter day was in 2012, when Seraphic Fire was the only choral ensemble in North or South America to be nominated for a Grammy Award — and the only classical ensemble in the world to be nominated for two separate projects.

So where will Seraphic Fire be at the 40-year mark?

Quigley says the ensemble's educational programs might provide the answer.

"We have an education program that goes from third grade all the way through post-graduate work," she said. "I'm really excited to see what those young people do in the next 20 years. Because that is the future of Seraphic Fire."


Seraphic Fire:' First/Last'


Sydney Guillaume: Douce Espérance
Shawn Crouch: The Road from Hiroshima
David Vess: To Dream Again
Tawnie Olson: Beloved of the Sky
Alvaro Bermudez: Danzas del Silencio
Thomas Tallis: Spem in alium


Thu, Apr 27, 7:00pm
Vanderbilt Presbyterian

Fri, Apr 28, 8:00pm
Coral Gables
Church of the Little Flower

Sat, Apr 29, 7:30pm
Ft. Lauderdale | All Saints Episcopal

Sun, Apr 30, 4:00pm
Boca Raton | St. Gregory’s Episcopal

For tickets and other information, you can visit Seraphic Fire.org

Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
More On This Topic