O Jerusalem! – Crossroads of Three Faiths

Jeannette Sorrell, direction & harpsichord
Amanda Powell, soprano
Karim Sulayman, tenor
Jeffrey Strauss, baritone

The company of 26 performers includes musicians of Jewish, Palestinian, Persian, Muslim, and Christian backgrounds, featuring instruments such as oud, theorbo, tanbur, renaissance harp, medieval vielle, shawm, hammered dulcimer (zither), accordion, strings, wooden flutes, and exotic percussion, as well as 12 ensemble singers.

“… 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. The program is a “tour” of the four quarters of Jerusalem (Jewish, Christian, Arab, and Armenian/Byzantine) – revealing the surprising cross-influences among Catholic, Jewish, and Arab musicians and poets.

Selections from Monteverdi’s great Vespers of 1610 – including Duo Seraphim and the Gloria – echo the exotic and rapturous singing of the Jewish cantors in the temples. The classic Arabic love song Lamma bada leads poignantly into the Sephardic ballad of a lover betrayed, Nani nani. The rhythms of daily life – love, singing, dancing and prayer – culminate in a joyous celebration of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Read the reviews of Sephardic Journey (CD album and concerts)

Listen to tracks from the CD!
Debuted at #2 on the Billboard World Music Chart and #7 on the Billboard Classical Chart
(February 2016)
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Representative Videos

 

 



CD Reviews of Sephardic Journey

“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]

“The care with which Sorrell and guests have curated these twenty tracks shows. After several lifetimes in exile, the music of the Spanish Jews may finally have found the perfect home.”
–ClevelandClassical.com

Concert Reviews of Sephardic Journey

“Under its founder and director Jeannette Sorrell, Apollo’s Fire has developed a local, national, and international reputation for its vivid and passionate interpretations. Now, Sorrell has taken her programming to a new level in a showcase of Jewish music from Spain and Italy. With performers of such reliable quality and a director who choreographs the proceedings down to the tiniest detail, Apollo’s Fire always puts on a good show…. ‘Sephardic Journey’ is a keeper.
–Classical Voice of North America (Journal of the Music Critics’ Association of North America)

“Baritone Jeffrey Strauss delineated, with decorative elaboration worthy of a great cantor, the intense longing in the hearts of an exiled people to return to their homeland… Sorrell and company have a new favorite on their hands… Sephardic Journey certainly has the potential to be the ensemble’s biggest hit since their long-running ‘Sacrum Mysterium – Celtic Christmas Vespers’ presentation.”
–The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Another innovative and brilliant new program: a magic carpet that swept Sunday afternoon’s large audience away. It was often a deeply moving journey.”
–CoolCleveland.com

“Apollo’s Fire sets Cleveland aflame… Who says American early music bands can’t play European music? Apollo’s Fire… took local fans on a journey to medieval Spain this past weekend with delightfully authentic songs of the Sephardic Jews. The spirit and sound of the music could have come straight out of a Middle Eastern bazaar, mixed with spices ranging from ancient prayer chants to Italian Baroque. …In all, a scholarly, imaginative program that only a skillful and adventuresome ensemble could pull off. The packed house it attracted suggests that for both players and audiences, there are fascinating worlds to explore beyond the traditional borders of Baroque.”
– Bachtrack.com (international classical music website based in Europe)

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