You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Jeannette Sorrell’ tag.

by Daniel Hathaway

CIPC-Four-BowsThe laureates of most international piano competitions vanish into the ether once the medals are bestowed and prizes awarded. Not so with the Cleveland International Piano Competition, whose leadership has sought new ways to keep its prizewinners in the local public eye and ear.

On Saturday afternoon, August 23, CIPC organized a reunion of its four top winners from 2013, one year and two weeks after the final round when they played concertos in Severance Hall with The Cleveland Orchestra. Last year they faced off as competitors, but on Sunday in Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art, they paired up collaboratively to play J.S. Bach double keyboard concertos with Apollo’s Fire and, in the second half of the 4:00 pm concert, swapped partners to play two-piano works by Mozart, Milhaud and Rachmaninoff. A gala dinner for patrons followed the performance in the museum’s Atrium. Read the rest of this entry »

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by Daniel Hathaway

AFatLECApollo’s Fire will present seven local subscription programs totaling thirty concerts during its 23rd season in 2014-2015. Additionally, Cleveland’s baroque orchestra will make its debut at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in December and at London’s BBC Proms next August, undertake a national tour of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers in November, and appear on the Pittsburgh Renaissance & Baroque Society series in April.

The subscription concerts, to be presented in several venues, will begin with “Orchestral Fireworks,” the first of two celebrations of Johann Sebastian Bach’s 330th birthday. The programs will include works new to Apollo’s Fire’s repertory: the double harpsichord concerto in c (featuring artistic director Jeannette Sorrell and Joe Gascho), the Violin Concerto in E (featuring Olivier Brault) and the second orchestral suite (featuring flutist Kathie Stewart). The four concerts will run from October 9-12. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin and Daniel Hautzinger

AF-Countryside-Sorrell“I’m excited because I feel like it might be one of the better things that I’ve put together,” Apollo’s Fire artistic director Jeanette Sorrell exclaimed about her new program during a recent interview. While putting together her previous Appalachian-inspired program, “Come to the River,” Sorrell said, “I was pretty much a newcomer to the field. This time I feel I’m starting from a deeper place.”

Beginning on Thursday, June 12, and continuing through Sunday, June 22, at venues throughout the area (see our concert listings page for times and locations), Apollo’s Fire will present “Glory on the Mountain: An Appalachian Journey.” The concerts will feature the mixture of fiddle tunes, ballads, shape-note hymns, and spirituals that typify Appalachian music. (An extra performance on Saturday, June 14 at 3:00 pm has just been announced.)

“With ‘Come to the River’ I spent two years researching fiddle tunes and ballads from Appalachia and it was a wonderful introduction into that repertoire. I had heard some lovely ballads when I was in the Shenandoah Valley as a teenager, but it was not the music that I was performing and studying as my profession,” Sorrell recalled. Read the rest of this entry »

by Timothy Robson

FORSYTHE-Amanda-greenThis weekend Apollo’s Fire, directed by Jeannette Sorrell, gave four performances of their latest program, The Power of Love: Passions of Handel and Vivaldi. The featured soloist was the brilliant young soprano Amanda Forsythe. I heard the Friday night concert at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, with its newly renovated acoustics which livened up the sound considerably. The music was mostly Handel and Vivaldi, but Jean-Philippe Rameau made a couple of cameo appearances as well.

One of the hallmarks of Apollo’s Fire’s performances is the naturalness and freedom of their music-making. Although very carefully planned and rehearsed, the musicians always project a sense of spontaneity and improvisation. Also, Jeannette Sorrell is not afraid to make things her own, as exemplified in the program by two of her transcriptions of Vivaldi works that opened and closed the concert. The Allegro from the Concerto in D, RV511, originally for two violins, was arranged as a concerto grosso. It was stylishly done, and had the program not stated it that it was an arrangement, few would have been the wiser. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

AF-YA

Much of the classical music world still operates on the time-honored apprentice system, which emphasizes hands-on training over degrees and diplomas. Apollo’s Fire showcased four of its young artists in two concerts last weekend. I caught the performance on Saturday evening, March 15 in Tucker Hall at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights. Billed as “Music Collision: Art Meets Folk, 1614,” the hour-and-a-half performance featured soprano Madeline Apple Healey, violinists Augusta McKay Lodge and Cynthia Black, and viola da gambist David Ellis in various solo and ensemble combinations supported by AF artistic director Jeannette Sorrell at the harpsichord and Daniel Shoskes on lute and theorbo.

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by Daniel Hathaway

SORRELL-Jeannette“It seemed like this was the next challenge,” said Apollo’s Fire artistic director Jeannette Sorrell. “Our Celtic program in particular made me ready to tackle something new.”

That something new will reveal itself this week as Apollo’s Fire presents five performances of “Sephardic Journey: Wanderings of the Spanish Jews” beginning on Thursday, February 20 at Fairlawn Lutheran Church, with subsequent concerts at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights (February 21), The Temple – Tifereth Israel in Beachwood (February 22 & 25) and Rocky River Presbyterian Church (February 23).

“I’ve always loved this music,” Sorrell told us by telephone from Houston, where she was conducting two complete cycles of Brandenburg Concertos — the kind of repertoire in which she’s made her reputation. “I’ve been working closely with Nell Snaidas and Jeffrey Strauss, who have sung Sephardic music all their lives — Jeff grew up in the cantorial tradition and Nell’s father was part of a Sephardic community in South America. It’s rewarding and brings us back to our roots.” Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Michael Praetorius

Michael Praetorius

Well before the more pietistic style of Lutheran church music that Johann Sebastian Bach wrote at Leipzig in the second quarter of the eighteenth century came the Italian-influenced, Renaissance style of Michael Praetorius, the subject of Jeannette Sorrell’s well-crafted and expertly performed Christmas Vespers with Apollo’s Fire, which began a four-concert run at Trinity Cathedral on Friday evening before moving on to three different venues around town.

You could hear the difference in approach in Philip Nicolai’s Wachet auf! Everyone knows the glorious, equal-note setting that ends Bach’s cantata of the same name. Not so familiar is the early form of the chorale tune with its dancelike, uneven rhythms, nor its delightful and ornate elaboration by Praetorius from his 1619 collection Polyhymnia caduceatrix. The latter, already bursting at its seams with exuberance, was decorated even further by Apollo’s Fire’s violinists and cornetto players (Olivier Brault, Johanna Novom, Kiri Tollaksen and Nathaniel Cox), who could barely force themselves to arrive at the final chord at several cadences. Read the rest of this entry »

by Mike Telin

AF-Praetorius-VespersIn her program notes for this week’s concerts Apollo’s Fire artistic director Jeannette Sorrell writes, “Martin Luther had many students and disciples. One of them was named Praetorius, and that student had a son named Michael. Michael became – along with J.S. Bach – one of the two greatest composers in the history of Protestant church music.” Beginning on Friday, December 13 with performances continuing through the 16th at locations in Cleveland and Akron, Apollo’s Fire presents Praetorius Christmas Vespers: A Dramatic Holiday Celebration.

Compiled by Jeannette Sorrell and premiered in December 2005, the Christmas Vespers features the splendor of trumpets, sackbuts, virtuoso cornettos, antiphonal choirs, lutes, strings and recorders. The concerts also feature the Apollo’s Singers and the Apollo’s Fire Musettes, youth who have been chosen by Sorrell to perform Praetorius’s music intended for children’s voices. Returning to Cleveland and the Apollo’s Fire stage are three renowned soloists, sopranos Nell Snaidas, Teresa Wakim, and Amanda Powell.

I’m in love with the German music of this time period, and there’s something about this Christmas Vespers that Praetorius wrote and Jeannette put together. Read the rest of this entry »

by Timothy Robson

Schiffer-&-BrinkmannOne of the best things about Apollo’s Fire’s programs is that director Jeannette Sorrell and her musicians plan programs that are entertaining. They are scholarly, but not pedantic; instructive, but not condescending; and the expert musicians give every appearance of enjoying the act of performance, with awareness of their fellow musicians.

Such was the case again on Friday night, November 15, at Fairmount Presbyterian Church in Cleveland Heights, for the first of four performances of “Tangos and Fandangos,” an exploration of the Mediterranean musical styles from 18th century Spain that crossed the Atlantic and evolved into those sexy South American dances, the fandango and the tango. The full house responded enthusiastically to this unfamiliar music by Santiago de Murcia, Luigi Boccherini, Carl Friedrich Abel, and Apollo’s Fire regular René Schiffer (writing under the nom de plume René Duchiffre).

Baroque guitarists Simon Martyn-Ellis and William Simms opened the concert with 18th century Spanish composer and guitarist Santiago de Murcia’s Fandango (c.1730). The performers entered from opposite sides of the stage, bowed to each other and commenced a musical “duel,” trading phrases in increasing virtuosic variations above the descending bass line that is the hallmark of the fandango. The tension increased until the music dramatically stopped without warning. Read the rest of this entry »

by Nicholas Jones

AF-Virtuoso-OrchestraAs Apollo’s Fire heads out on a real tour across North American, last weekend’s set of concerts gave us a virtual tour of some of the top orchestras across Europe—all without leaving our seats. Talk about not leaving a carbon footprint!

As simply and quickly as on Google Earth, listeners swooped from one musical capital to another — from Hamburg on the North Sea, south to Venice on the Adriatic, and across what we now used to call East Germany, from Cöthen and Leipzig to Dresden.

Each of the sojourns featured one of the composers who lived and worked in that town – Telemann in Hamburg, Vivaldi in Venice, and Bach in Leipzig and Cöthen. Dresden—one of the grandest of the orchestras and the pride of the Elector of Saxony—was represented by the little known Johann David Heinichen.

The theme, “virtuoso orchestra,” led music director Jeannette Sorrell to feature concertos in which Apollo’s Fire’s soloists could step forward and dazzle us as their counterparts 300 years ago must have done. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

SORRELL-JeannetteAfter I congratulated her on launching her ensemble’s twenty-second season, Apollo’s Fire founder and artistic director Jeannette Sorrell said, “We’re into adulthood now, and we’re in a really fantastic place regarding our artistic reputation.” Cleveland patrons don’t need to be reminded of the high quality of playing their resident baroque orchestra turns in on a regular basis, but a wider audience is now sitting up and paying attention.

One indication of Apollo’s Fire’s “grown-up” status: the ensemble has recently been picked up by Columbia Artists Management Inc. (CAMI), “a big stamp of approval”, Sorrell said. “We’re the first period instrument orchestra to appear on their roster, and after twenty-one years of honing our craft and trying to perfect our art, it’s great to be getting global attention.”

We reached Jeannette Sorrell via Skype last weekend to chat about the multiple performances of seven programs that local audiences will enjoy in area church venues this season. It all begins with “Virtuoso Orchestra”, which opens on Thursday, October 10 at First Methodist in Akron and will be repeated on October 11 and 12 at Fairmount Presbyterian in Cleveland Heights and on October 13 at Rocky River Presbyterian.

Sorrell promises that the program will live up to its name with dazzling performances including Vivaldi’s concerto for four violins, Bach’s fourth Brandenburg Concerto and a novelty for local audiences, a concerto by J.D. Heinichen. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Lynn-Benefit

Only six months after receiving a liver transplant at Cleveland Clinic, Michael Lynn gathered a group of friends to present a benefit concert for the program that gave him a new life and restored his career as a performer on the recorder and baroque flute. “A Baroque Musical Conversation” drew a good-sized audience to Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art on Saturday evening, May 11 for masterful performances of concerted music by Telemann and Handel as well as cameo solo performances of works by Louis Couperin, Handel and Marais.

Lynn, who is professor of baroque flute and recorder and curator of musical instruments at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, was forced to give up performing four years ago due to his illness. His near-miraculous recovery was immediately evident in the opening selection, the Vivace from Telemann’s Concerto in D for two flutes, violin and cello, where he was joined by flutist Kathie Stewart, violinist Julie Andrijeski and cellist René Schiffer, with Jeannette Sorrell at the harpsichord and a backup orchestra of Miho Hashizumi and Rachel Iba, violins, Cynthia Black, viola, and Sue Yelanjian, contrabass. All the performers, who donated their services, have been longtime colleagues in professional period instrument ensembles in the region. Read the rest of this entry »

by Nicholas Jones

AFJSConductingIn its concerts this weekend, Apollo’s Fire burnt bright with the intensity of the mature Haydn and the brilliance of the young Mozart (not that he was ever old, alas!)

This winter has seen Cleveland’s baroque orchestra presenting “intimate” concerts of Vivaldi and Bach with reduced forces, perhaps for budget reasons. By contrast, this concert assembled a big band—almost thirty instrumentalists—fitting for late 18th-century operatic and symphonic literature. The investment in such a richness of talent paid off in an extraordinary mixture of precision, energy, and richness.

Full string sections were backed by pairs of natural horns and paired woodwinds—baroque bassoons, oboes, and flutes. In Oberlin’s Finney Chapel—acoustically clear and relatively dry—the group could play at faster tempos than in the resonant churches in which Apollo’s Fire normally performs, and with a tighter sense of ensemble.

This was Apollo’s Fire at its best: crisp, exciting, and beautifully transparent. Bass lines energized the music from below; in the middle, inner voices shone through with ease; oboes, flutes, and violins dazzled with rapid and always-varying intricacies. Read the rest of this entry »

by Guytano Parks

AF-Intimate-BachApollo’s Fire presented the first of four performances of “The Intimate Bach, Part II” as part of a series entitled The “Fireside” Concerts at Fairlawn Lutheran Church on Thursday, March 14. Three of the ensemble’s principal players, violinist Olivier Brault, flutist Kathie Stewart, cellist René Schiffer and the ensemble’s director, harpsichordist Jeannette Sorrell, performed music by Bach and Telemann.

The principal players of Apollo’s Fire were of one mind and spirit and their rapport was apparent as they opened the program with Telemann’s Paris Quartet No. 12 in e minor. Phrases were delivered sensitively with nuance and expressive ornamentation. The interplay between the performers in sequential sections and the echoing of phrases in others sounded personal, much like a conversation. Improvisatory writing in the Prelude plus sections of lyricism within the other movements nicely offset the lively nature of this work. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

FiftySORRELL-Jeannette years ago, if you heard Handel’s famous Water Music or Music for the Royal Fireworks played by a symphony orchestra, it would probably have been in a sumptuous reorchestration by Sir Hamilton Harty, longtime conductor of the Hallé Orchestra. In the meantime, the historical performance movement arose and baroque music all but vanished from symphonic concerts. Now early music specialists are being invited to work with “traditional” orchestras to restore to their programs repertory written before, say, 1800 and to play it in original orchestrations in something approaching the style to which it was originally accustomed. And, of course, using “modern” instruments.

The Cleveland Orchestra has already successfully done this by inviting Bernard Labadie and Ton Koopman to guest conduct the ensemble. Last Saturday evening at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron, the Akron Symphony welcomed Apollo’s Fire founder and artistic director Jeannette Sorrell to lead music by J.S. Bach and Handel with the assistance of AF’s concertmaster Olivier Brault. As usual for these occasions, the strings were reduced to chamber orchestra proportions to obtain a leaner, lither sound. Read the rest of this entry »

by Daniel Hathaway

Michael Praetorius

Jeannette Sorrell brought the alternately dazzling and charming music of Michael Praetorius to life once again at Trinity Cathedral on Thursday evening, in her compilation program, “Christmas Vespers” — with a little help from Apollo’s Fire’s 20 instrumentalists, 27 adult singers and the 15 young vocalists who make up Apollo’s Musettes. And a near-capacity crowd of happy listeners.

Her sidespeople comprised six string players, including viola da gamba, a wind band of ten (recorders, cornetti, Trumpets, three sackbuts and percussionist) a continuo group of four (count them: three long-necked lutes or theorbos! — in addition to organ and harpsichord (Sorrell herself) and seven soloists who moved in and out of the choir during the complicated choreography that brought the right people to the right place for each variously scored piece.

Mostly drawn from the collection called Polyhymnia caduceatrix, compiled in 1619, two years before the composer’s death at the age of 50, but also using material from his Musica Sionae, Puericinium and the dance collection Terpsichore, the program ranged from the simple (chant and liturgical snippets, stark, early Lutheran chorales sung in unison and M.P.’s greatest hit, Lo, how a rose) to the fascinating polychoral complexity of works in the Venetian ceremonial style (Gloria sei Gott, and In Dulci Jubilo). Read the rest of this entry »

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STAFF
Daniel Hathaway
founder & editor
Mike Telin
executive editor
Jarrett Hoffman
assistant to the editors

CORRESPONDENTS
James Flood
J.D. Goddard
Jarrett Hoffman
Nicholas Jones
Timothy Robson
Robert & Gwyneth Rollin
Alexandra Vago
Tom Wachunas

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