Jeannette Sorrell, direction & harpsichord
Amanda Powell, soprano
Jeffrey Strauss, baritone
Sorab Wadia, tenor
with Jacob Perry and Raha Mirzadegan
“… The place where everything is music… and brothers and strangers are one.”
Jalal al-Din Rumi, 13th-c. Persian poet
Apollo’s Fire’s “Sephardic Journey” program won rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. Now Jeannette Sorrell presents a sequel – an exploration of the three peoples whose music and faith brought such vibrancy to the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
In this “tour” of the four quarters of Old Jerusalem (Jewish, Christian, Arab, and Armenian/Byzantine), surprising cross-influences emerge. In the Jewish quarter, a Sabbath prayer leads to a Sephardic ballad of a lover betrayed… In the Christian quarter, we encounter a festive medieval street parade, as well as selections from Monteverdi’s great Vespers of 1610, echoing the exotic and rapturous singing of the Jewish cantors in the temples. In the Arab quarter, the classical Arabic love song Lamma bada leads poignantly into the wild and joyous Longa Farahfaza – a virtuoso instrumental romp. The rhythms of daily life – love, singing, dancing and prayer – culminate in a joyous celebration of brotherhood and sisterhood.
The company of 26 performers includes musicians of Jewish, Palestinian, Persian, Muslim, and Christian backgrounds, featuring instruments such as oud, theorbo, tanbur, medieval harp and vielle, shawm, hammered dulcimer (zither), accordion, strings, wooden flutes, and exotic percussion, as well as 12 ensemble singers.
REVIEWS from the Cleveland Premiere, 2018
“On period instruments, a voyage of faith for the 21st century… Apollo’s Fire continues to challenge and enchant. The result borders upon a theatrical experience…. In classic Apollo’s Fire manner, the entire evening was delivered with urgency, polish, and flair. To hear an ensemble at the peak of their powers, making vital statements about the world, is a privilege.”
– Seen & Heard International [Read the rest]
“Captivating… a ravishing musical landscape. A high level of artistry and passionate music-making… gorgeous and stylish. The concert flowed wonderfully from one musical universe to another… creating a communal atmosphere of celebration and worship. Sorrell should be proud of this enjoyable and unity-striving evening in a time when human divisions are regularly stoked to achieve dangerous ends.”
– ClevelandClassical.com [Read the rest]
Related: International Reviews of the “Sephardic Journey” CD Album
“Revelatory… convivially theatrical… The soloists and instrumentalists are first-class, and Sorrell’s arrangements are full of zip and color.”
–BBC Music Magazine [full review]
“Recommendable right off the bat… Sorrell combines music of several centuries in a convincing thematic way that has rarely been matched, whether dealing with Jewish music or some other tradition. This is something of a heartland American counterpart to the thematic albums of Jordi Savall, and it works remarkably well.”
–AllMusic.com [full review]
“Another impressive disc from Apollo’s Fire… energy, colour, atmosphere and, indeed, fire. Impressively wrought, full of wonderful Middle Eastern inflections… beautifully shaped and full of life… Vividly recorded, with excellent booklet notes by Jeannette Sorrell.”
–The Classical Reviewer (UK) [full review]