BWW Review: HARMONY AND PEACE THROUGH MUSIC at Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church
Ever hear someone's voice referred to as ethereal? The dictionary definition is celestial or heavenly, but ethereal can also mean having to do with the ether or air. Both of these definitions are equally true of the singing of Seraphic Fire. That these professional voices produce heavenly music is certain. And when singing a cappella as they did last night at Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church, they seem to find pitches magically out of thin air.
The performance was meant to demonstrate harmony and peace through music. Conductor James K. Bass gave a lengthy explanation of what was to come before his ensemble took the stage. The program interspersed movements of Poulenc's impossibly difficult Mass in G with eclectic yet complementary works by Sydney Guillaume, Shawn Crouch, Frank Ticheli, Leonard Bernstein, and a commissioned work by Carlos Fernando Lopez.
The sections were titled Invocation, Peace and Blessings from God, A Call for Peace in Time of War, Peace for the Earth, A Prayer for Peace, and Benediction.
The penultimate piece, Poulenc's version of Agnus Dei, featured a stunningly beautiful solo by soprano Sara Moyer. A more contemporary version, the Agnus Dei movement from William Albright's Chichester Mass, both began and ended the evening. The entire program was sung straight through with no intermission and, as requested by Dr. Bass, no applause in between, all the better for inducing a meditative state in audience and singers alike.
The thirteen members of Seraphic Fire were joined during several of the pieces by eight singers from its Ensemble Artist program at UCLA's Herb Alpert School of Music. This program fulfills Seraphic Fire's educational mission by helping undergraduate and graduate students find future opportunities for employment.
Seraphic Fire is based on the east coast of Florida but will appear again in Naples in five concerts next season. For more information, call (305) 285-9060 or visit www.seraphicfire.org.