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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 Mike Telin

Apollo’sMcFarlane-Ronn Fire has cozy “fireside” events planned for its next two sets of concerts, “Intimate Vivaldi” from January 31-February 3 and “Intimate Bach, Part II” from March 14-17. The Vivaldi set will feature lutenist Ronn McFarlane in the “Red Priest’s” lute concertos and violinists Olivier Brault and Johanna Novom will join McFarlane in chamber music by Vivaldi’s musical forebears and colleagues Giovanni Zamboni, Dario Castello, Biagio Marini and Giovanni Legrenzi, assisted by violist Kristen Linfante, cellist René Schiffer and William Simms on theorbo and guitar.

McFarlane began his career as a blues and rock guitarist, but went on to study classical guitar at the Peabody Conservatory under Paul O’Dette, Roger Harmon and Pat O’Brien. By the late 1970s, McFarlane had switched his musical attention to the lute and helped found the Baltimore Consort.

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