A Celtic Christmas Vespers
Meredith Hall,soprano
Steven Player,guitar & dancer
Jeannette Sorrell,conducting
Ensemble La Nef of Montréal
Sylvain Bergeron,director & archlute
Saturday, December 12, 2020, 8:00PM
First Baptist Church, SHAKER HEIGHTS
Sunday, December 13, 2020, 4:00PM
St. Noel Catholic Church, WILLOUGHBY HILLS
Saturday, December 19, 2020, 8:00PM
CLEVELAND Museum of Art (Gartner Auditorium)
Sunday, December 20, 2020, 4:00PM
St. Raphael Catholic Church, BAY VILLAGE
Monday, December 21, 2020, 7:30PM
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, AKRON

The beloved program that sold out for five years is back! Jeannette Sorrell’s celebration of Celtic artistic traditions interweaves renaissance choral music with ancient pagan carols, folk dances and joyous fiddle tunes. A colorful band of bagpipes, flutes, strings and Celtic harp joins the exquisite Apollo’s Singers. Chosen by BBC Magazine as one of the “Top 20 Concerts in North America,” 2012 & 2014!

“An exuberant gathering… from utter simplicity to heartfelt passion…”

NOTE: If social distancing is still in place in December, this program will be replaced by “An Irish-Appalachian Christmas,” using a smaller ensemble.

Pre-Concert ZOOM Talks

Don’t miss the lively discussion with 2 AF musicians. Choose Saturday 12/12 or Saturday 12/19 at 1:00pm. A ZOOM link will be sent to all ticket holders for these concerts.


Meet 2-3 of the featured the artists in our new Q&A ZOOM discussions – Sunday 12/13 (for patrons who attend the live concert) and Tuesday 12/22 at 7:30pm (for patrons who watch the video at home). Sit down with a glass of wine for 30 minutes and toast the musicians on their performance!

Watch Video

Meet the Artists

    guest director & archlute
    guitar & dancer


Cathedral in Winter, 1821 (oil on board) Dom im Winter / © Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden / Bridgeman Images

“The U.S.A.’s hottest baroque band.” –CLASSICAL MUSIC MAGAZINE (UK)


Canadian Soprano Meredith Hall delights audiences internationally with her “lustrous sound and fluent legato” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “bravura musical performance matched by a riveting [sense of the] dramatic” (Boston Globe). Equally at home in Opera and Oratorio, she is especially in demand for Baroque and Classical works, particularly those of Mozart and Handel.

Recent and upcoming performances include the Leipzig Bachfest with the Ottawa Bach Choir, Handel’s Messiah for the Grand Philharmonic Choir (Kitchener Waterloo), Guelph Chamber Choir, Toledo Symphony, and Amadeus Choir, Elgar’s The Apostles for Pax Christie Chorale of Toronto, “A Celtic Christmas” programme for Apollo’s Fire in Cleveland and New York. Other engagements include appearances for St. Paul’s Lyra Baroque Orchestra singing Mozart and Haydn, Bach’s Johannes Passion with the Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival, his B Minor Mass with the Amadeus Choir of Toronto, Matthäus Passion with the Grand Philharmonic Choir of Kitchener Waterloo, Hippolyte et Aricie for VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert, and Messiahs for Symphony Nova Scotia and the Newfoundland Symphony. She has also been featured by Music and Beyond in Ottawa and for the Sweetwater Festival in Ontario.

Past highlights include performances at the Göttingen Handel Festival in Germany, Messiah with the Toronto Symphony, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Apollo’s Fire, Victoria Symphony, Memphis Symphony, and a Handel programme for the Grand Rapids Symphony. Also on her schedule were performances with the Arizona Chamber Music Festival in Tucson and the Hot Earth Ensemble of Newfoundland. Ms. Hall has been heard in San Francisco in Rameau’s Pygmalion and Arne’s Comus with Philharmonia Baroque, toured Canada’s west coast with La Nef, starred as Dido in Dido and Aeneas for Apollo’s Fire and debuted with Boston Baroque in Rameau’s Pygmalion. Also on her schedule were, Purcell’s The Indian Queen for the Toronto Masque Theatre and concerts with the Montreal Baroque Festival, in Halle, Germany at the Handel Festival and recording projects with La Nef for CBC Radio Canada and with Toronto Masque Theatre for CBC Radio Two.

Ms. Hall appeared at the Shannon International Music Festival for Beethoven’s Irish and Scottish songs with Nicholas McGegan at the piano as well an all Mozart programme. She was heard at the Montreal Baroque Festival and at Domaine Forget in a programme with the Toronto Consort, in Memphis for Mozart’s Mass in C Minor, Tucson for the Arizona Chamber Music Festival and Toronto with Pax Christi Chorale for Mendelssohn’s St. Paul. Of particular note was her recital debut in Toronto for the Women’s Musical Club with guitarist Bernard Farley.

Further credits include the title role in Rameau’s Zephyr for McGegan’s Philharmonia Baroque, a Baroque evening for the Windsor Symphony, Bach’s Johannes Passion for Orchestra London and the Toronto Operetta Theatre production of the zarzuela El barberillo de Lavapiés. She was also heard as Aristeo in Rossi’s Orfeo for the Toronto Consort and was featured in a Handel programme for I Musici de Montreal.

The Newfoundland native has sung the title roles of Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea (Houston Grand Opera and Opera Atelier, Toronto) and Handel’s Partenope (Göttingen Handel Festival, Germany) as well as Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte (Opera Atelier, Toronto) and Phébé in Rameau’s Castor et Pollux (Opera in Concert, Toronto). Other Handel roles include: Semele (Handel & Haydn Society, Boston); Pleasure in The Choice of Hercules (Philharmonia Baroque, San Francisco) and Mary Magdelene in Resurrezione (Opera Atelier). In Mozart roles, Ms. Hall has appeared as Zerlina in Don Giovanni at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Bastienne in Bastien und Bastienne with Tafelmusik in Toronto and as Elvira in Don Giovanni for Opera Atelier’s tour of Japan. Her performances as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro with the same company were received with great acclaim in Toronto and Tokyo. Previous operatic engagements have included Giunone in Cavalli’s Ercole amante in Utrecht, Tanglewood and Boston; Eurydice in Gluck’s Orfeo for Cleveland Opera; Galatea in Handel’s Acis and Galatea for Opera Atelier; Dido in Dido and Aeneas for Apollo’s Fire (Cleveland); Messagiera in Monteverdi’s Orfeo for Vancouver Early Music; and Altisidore in Boismortier’s Don Quichotte for Paris’ Opera Comique.

Concert appearances include Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Arcadia Chamber Orchestra in Osaka, Japan; Handel’s Gloria with Pittsburgh’s Chatham Baroque; Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Handel’s Dixit Dominus with Le grand Choeur de Montreal; Bach’s Mass in B Minor for the St. Lawrence Choir of Montreal and his Missa Brevis for the Vancouver Chamber Choir. Ms. Hall toured Japan appearing in a series of song recitals in Osaka and Tokyo with her husband, guitarist Bernard Farley. For Toronto Operetta Theatre she performed the role of Nanine in the Canadian premiere of The Widow by Calixa Lavallee.

She has recorded several albums on the ATMA label with the early music ensemble La Nef, including Songs of Robbie Burns, Oikan ayns Bethlehem and the Battle of Killiecranckie and her latest CD with Apollo’s Fire is Sacrum Mysterium. In release are discs for Deutsche Grammophon Archiv, Philips, Naxos (Rameau’s Castor et Pollux and Purcell’s The Tempest), Dorian, NPR Records and CBC Records with such groups as Les Musiciens du Louvre, Le Concert Spirituel, Opera in Concert/Aradia, The Musicians of the Globe, The Toronto Consort and Tafelmusik. Ms. Hall can also be heard in the title role in a recording of Handel’s Partenope with the Internationale Händel-Festspiele Göttingen, conducted by Nicholas McGegan.


guest director & archlute

is a native of Quebec City. He gained expertise on instruments of the lute family through studies with Paul O’Dette and Eugène Dombois, among others. In 1984, he was a finalist at Toronto’s First International Lute Competition, and was a member of Ensemble Anonymus from 1980 to 1990. He co-founded La Nef in 1991, and has been at the helm of many productions such as Perceval, The Quest for the Holy Grail, The Garden of Delights, and Music for Joan the Mad. In demand as a performer of both lute and theorbo, Mr. Bergeron gives more than sixty concerts each season with renowned early music ensembles and orchestras. He has performed and recorded with such artists as Emma Kirkby, Jordi Savall, David Daniels, Daniel Taylor, Suzie LeBlanc, Christine Brandes, Agnès Melon, Meredith Hall, Anne Azéma and Patrizia Bovi. He has played under the direction of well-known conductors and performed in concert halls throughout North America and Europe. Sylvain Bergeron teaches lute, baroque guitar and continuo at McGill University and Université de Montréal. He was recently invited to represent Canada at the ninth Festival des Cordes Pincées (Plucked Strings) in Rabat, Morocco.

guitar & dancer

has for the past twenty years studied and performed dances of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. He also plays baroque guitar and studied lute at the Royal College of Music in London. This combination of performing as both dancer and musician has made him popular with leading early music ensembles in Europe, where he works regularly with The Harp Consort, Akademie for Alte Musik Berlin, The Balthasaar Neumann Ensemble and the trio Los Otros. He also performs in the Americas, Australia, and Japan. He has taught dance to music students throughout Europe, choreographed for TV and Opera, and acted and performed Commedia dell’Arte. He has been a favorite with Apollo’s Fire audiences for over 10 years, particularly in the holiday program “Sacrum Mysterium – A Celtic Christmas.” Mr. Player enjoys combining the disciplines of art and historical research, while living in the 21st century.