Seraphic Fire salutes music of New Spain

Another good sign of the musical season: The return of Seraphic Fire.

The Miami-based chamber choir is in its seventh season, and has added a series of Thursday afternoon concerts at the Harriet Himmel Theater at CityPlace in West Palm Beach. That will also mark the group’s return to Palm Beach County. It did a season of concerts at the First Presbyterian Church in Delray Beach a couple years ago, but discontinued them and scaled back to its original Miami, Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale sites.

But this year is a next-level one for the group, which is adding the Firebird Chamber Orchestra to several of its concerts after getting a $250,000 grant last year from the Knight Foundation. This faith in Seraphic Fire’s director, Patrick Dupre Quigley, is surely well-placed.

Quigley has demonstrated time and again his ability to come up with sensational, innovative programming and memorable concerts, and the new season, which begins tonight at Miami’s Corpus Christi Catholic Church, looks like another fascinating series of programs.

Tonight, for instance (and tomorrow at the Harriet, where I plan to be), the concert features music from New Spain, in particular the music of Esteban Salas (1725-1803), “the first Cuban composer of art music,” as my trusty Grove calls him. His music, the article says, “is written in a rigorous and transparent Classical style, resembling that of Haydn, Pergolesi and Antonio Soler.”

I can say with certainty that I have never heard any Salas in concert or anywhere else, and I think it’s a mark of Quigley’s approach that he is seeking out music from the greater neighborhood of South Florida. It promises to be an enlightening concert, and I’m looking forward to it.

Here are some more details from the Seraphic Fire Website.

(Seraphic Fire’s first concert of the 2008-09 season, titled El Fuego Serafico, begins at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Harriet Himmel Theater, 700 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach. That’s in the center of CityPlace. Tickets are $35. For more information, call 305-476-0260.)

Here’s the choir in With Drooping Wings, from its concert staging of Henry Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas last season:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLy3qz8T3Rs&hl=en&fs=1]

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