Arts + Culture

UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music teams up with Grammy-nominated Seraphic Fire to establish vocal training program

Collaboration will provide eight student singers with professional mentorship opportunities

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James Bass
UCLA

James Bass, director of choral studies at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music’s choral and voice performance area is partnering with critically acclaimed vocal ensemble Seraphic Fire to create the Ensemble Artist Program, which offers students advanced training with esteemed professionals and helps the school’s singers discover outlets for professional employment.

This collaboration fulfills Seraphic Fire’s educational mission of helping student musicians learn more about singing as a career by providing a forum for the development and presentation of their talents. Eight students have been chosen for the inaugural cohort.

“This experience will be priceless for our students,” said James Bass, director of choral studies at UCLA and Seraphic Fire’s director of education. “The vocal students from UCLA will be able to step out of the academic world, into the professional world and then back again.”

Auditions to join the program’s first cohort, held in May at UCLA’s Schoenberg Hall, were adjudicated by Bass and conductor Patrick Dupré Quigley, who founded Seraphic Fire 15 years ago and serves as the organization’s artistic director.

“Seraphic Fire’s partnership with UCLA is unlike any other in the nation,” Quigley said. “As we merge art and academia, we are thrilled to usher in the next generation of choral artists.”

The training program begins on the UCLA campus in November with a series of masterclasses, lectures and town halls featuring four coaches from Seraphic Fire’s roster: Misty Bermudez, mezzo-soprano; Charles Evans, bass; Sara Guttenberg, soprano; and Patrick Muehleise, tenor.

In February and April 2018, the students will join Seraphic Fire in South Florida to serve as special guest singers on the ensemble’s 16th concert season in performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” and Arvo Pärt’s “Passio.”

“Our partnership with Seraphic Fire reflects the school’s commitment to the future of our students,” said Judith Smith, dean of the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. “My expectation is that the Ensemble Artist Program will open up career opportunities for our vocal students that they may have otherwise missed.” 

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