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During Pandemic, Seraphic Fire Holds It Together — By Singing Apart

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Southern Land Films
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The members of Seraphic Fire with Founder, Artistic Director and Conductor Patrick Dupre Quigley, in pre-COVID times. The vocal ensemble has neither rehearsed nor performed in close quarters since the pandemic struck.

The Miami-based professional vocal ensemble has been rehearsing and performing remotely for months.

Most choral singing involves a group of people standing indoors, shoulder to shoulder, often letting out forceful, prolonged expulsions of breath — everything medical authorities have told us not to do, if we wanted to steer clear of COVID-19.

Many groups that had to stop performing last year — from church choirs to major chorales — are still working out ways they can safely sing together again.

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Miami-based professional vocal ensemble Seraphic Fire, like so many other groups, had to cancel its in-person 2020-2021 season. But it went online in November with a six-performance, modified, multimedia season that runs through May 2021.

The group named it "Season S" and stamped it with the motto "Vita Brevis, Ars Longa" — life is short, but art is eternal.

"We chose 'S' originally because it was just the name and our logo of Seraphic Fire," said Patrick Dupre Quigley, the group's founder and artistic director. "S is also the 19th letter of the alphabet and we had to postpone our 19th in-person concert season."

Judging from the way Seraphic Fire has rehearsed and performed throughout the pandemic, the "S" could also stand for "super safe." The group has been relying on Zoom and other digital platforms to create the online concerts. Each member — including the orchestra — records their individual parts from home or other locations. They're then put together by an audio engineer.

Seraphic Fire's November season opener, titled "Still. Here.," featured secular music written during times of plague and pandemics throughout history. Quigley says the sense of love, longing and thirst for connection expressed by the composers touched at the heart of what many people are experiencing right now — and is also in keeping with Seraphic Fire's mission.

"I think we often look to the past to understand the present," Quigley said.

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IF YOU GO (ONLINE):

Seraphic Fire's Online 'Season S' Continues With

“Eternal Fire”
Sunday, March 21
Pre-concert conversation 3:30 p.m. EST
Video release via Vimeo 4 p.m. EST

Bach: “O ewiges Feuer, O Ursprung der Liebe”
Lang: the little match girl passion

For ticket information: seraphicfire.org
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This interview is part of “Intermission,” WLRN’s series looking at how South Florida’s arts community is coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve also been hearing from people who are NOT artists by trade, but who are tapping into their creative side during COVID isolation.

If you’ve got a story for us, please send an email to talktous@wlrnnews.org, with the word “Intermission” in the subject line.