A 2nd Vespers review from Florida

vespersGreg Stepanich writes in the Palm Beach ArtsPaper, May 10th 2015, on Saturday’s Vespers performance by Seraphic Fire and Piffaro, the third out of four concerts ending Seraphic’s 2015–15 season. In one of the most detailed and perceptive reviews of this work yet (he knows his Giovanni Gastoldi!), he says, “The merging of a Renaissance wind band with 21st-century American choral music is an idea that may sound odd on the surface, but composer Kile Smith showed it could work, and work beautifully.”

Calling Vespersan absorbing and fascinating piece, with lush choral writing and imaginative use of the seven-piece Piffaro ensemble,” he considers that “the combinations of voice and ancient instruments were remarkably atmospheric,” and that

Smith’s choral language is rich, sweet but not overripe, and crafted with emotional intensity. He likes word-painting, as one could see by following along with the text, and in both the instrumental and the choral writing the harmonic language grew steadily in complexity and color until it presented an almost palpable representation of faith.

He justly praises Patrick Quigley, Piffaro’s playing throughout and in their instrumental set-pieces, and for Seraphic Fire, “the singing was ravishing.” For the Magnificat, Stepanich especially mentions the canonic singing of the three exquisite soprano soloists Kathy Mueller, Jolle Greenleaf, and Jessica Petrus, “singing something of a written-out echo; the central melody had a sinuous, perpetual-motion elegance as it floated above harp and theorbo, giving an effect of a constant magnifying, an endless song of heavenly praise.”

He concludes his review this way:

This was an unusual and very rewarding concert, one that introduced South Florida audiences to a prominent early-music group and a fine American composer, and also demonstrated that music of deep faith written according to a hallowed tradition is as alive as it ever was.

Read the entire article here.

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