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Seraphic Fire: Non-commercial joy to the world

You want a Christmas miracle? Seraphic Fire’s “Angels We Have Heard on High,” a soul-stirring holiday concert performed by candlelight at Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday night, still has a handful of seats available.

The Grammy-nominated choral ensemble’s annual Christmas program, which combines timeless a cappella carols, Gregorian chant and glorious motets, typically sells out months in advance. All 350 seats were sold at Sunshine Cathedral, but the church decided it had space for about 20 more seats.

“We were surprised, but they know their capacity better than we do,” said Seraphic Fire managing director Joey Quigley Monday afternoon.

“Angels We Have Heard on High” will rouse the place in your heart that is untouched by the commercialized sounds of the season, Quigley said.

“For thousands of years Christmas didn’t begin the day after Thanksgiving,” Quigley said with a laugh, crediting the joke to his brother, Seraphic Fire founder and artistic director Patrick Quigley. “It’s not just about Santa and Frosty and Rudolph. … [“Angels We Have Heard on High”] is based around spiritual joy not commercial joy.”

The performance on Tuesday (Dec. 17) is the last of the season’s six South Florida concerts for “Angels We Have Heard on High.”

Perhaps as miraculous is the news that there also are tickets available for all three weekend performances of Seraphic Fire’s annual production of “Handel’s Messiah,” which has sold out each of the five previous performances by the 10-year-old ensemble.

Quigley said the production typically draws a lot of interest closer to performance dates. He also said regular Seraphic Fire patrons have seen this “Messiah” five times already, and it may be time for a new audience to check it out.

Seraphic Fire’s version is not the “over-inflated, stuffed-shirt kind of thing” that some associate with “Messiah,” Quigley said. The ensemble limits its production to what Handel might have actually used when the work was first composed: a 17-person chorus and an orchestra of 10 to 15 players.

“We make it a lot more nimble,” Quigley said. “It’s lean, athletic. The tempos are faster. It makes it a Ferrari instead of an SUV.”

Seraphic Fire performs “Angels We Have Heard on High” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Sunshine Cathedral (1480 SW Ninth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Tickets: $55. “Handel’s Messiah” will be performed 7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Gregory's Episcopal Church (100 NE Mizner Blvd., Boca Raton), 8 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church (536 Coral Way, Coral Gables) and 4 p.m. Sunday at All Saints Episcopal Church (333 Tarpon Drive, Fort Lauderdale). Tickets: $65. Call 305-285-9060, or go to

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