Sacrum Mysterium: A Celtic Christmas Vespers

ON TOUR DECEMBER 2019

Apollo’s Fire | Jeannette Sorrell, conducting
Meredith Hall, soprano
Steve Player, baroque guitar/dancer
with Ensemble La Nef of Montreal
Sylvain Bergeron, director/archlute

The groundbreaking new program that took Northeast Ohio by storm in 12 sold-out performances in the last two years! 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!

“A grand holiday stew made from deliciously blended sacred and secular ingredients… Sorrell’s brainstorm embraces Celtic sources rooted both in church and countryside, with excerpts from a 13th-century service surrounded by hymns, carols, folk tunes and dances… An affecting and exuberant gathering. From utter simplicity to heartfelt passion… Meredith Hall wraps her limpid soprano around every crucial word. As always, Sorrell has paid scrupulous attention to detail in shaping an experience in musical and theatrical terms.”
– THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 2011

MORE REVIEWS

Sacrum Mysterium

CD/DVD debuted at no. 11, Billboard Classical Chart (December 2013)

“A mixture of passion and reverence… If there’s one Christmas CD I’d be asking Santa for, this would be it.”
INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW (UK)

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  • MEREDITH HALL
    MEREDITH HALL
    soprano
  • JEANNETTE SORRELL
    JEANNETTE SORRELL
    conductor
  • SYLVAIN BERGERON
    SYLVAIN BERGERON
    guest director & archlute
  • STEVEN PLAYER
    STEVEN PLAYER
    guitar & dancer

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

MEREDITH HALL
soprano

delights audiences internationally with her “lustrous sound and fluent legato” (San Francisco Chronicle). Highlights of her recent seasons include Josabeth in Handel’s Athalia with the Göttingen Handel Festival, Dorinda in Handel’s Orlando for VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert (Toronto), Benjamin Britten’s Les Illuminations with the Talisker Players (Toronto), Rameau’s Pygmalion with the Boston Baroque, Handel’s Silete Venti for the Haendelfestspielerorchester (Halle), Rauzzini’s Piramo e Tisbe with Capella Savaria (Hungary), and Handel’s Messiah for the Toronto Symphony. Ms. Hall’s operatic roles include the title roles of Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea (Houston Grand Opera), Handel’s Partenope (Göttingen Handel Festival, Germany), Handel’s Semele (Handel and Haydn Society, Boston), and Rameau’s Zéphyre (Philharmonia Baroque, San Francisco). Ms. Hall’s many appearances with Opera Atelier of Toronto include Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, Zerlina and Elvira in Don Giovanni, and Pamina in The Magic Flute. Other notable roles include Eurydice in Gluck’s Orfeo (Cleveland Opera), leading roles in Rameau’s Castor et Pollux and Hippotyte et Aricie for VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert, and Altisidore in Boismortier’s Don Quichotte for the Dijon Opera and the Paris Opera Comique. Ms. Hall has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon/Archiv, Philips, Naxos, CBC Records, Dorian and Avie. Highlights of her current season include performances with Apollo’s Fire in Sacrum Mysterium: A Celtic Christmas Vespers in New York and a program of arias by Mozart and Haydn for Lyra Baroque in St. Paul, Minnesota.

http://deanartists.com/project/meredith-hall/

JEANNETTE SORRELL
conductor

“Under the inspired leadership of Jeannette Sorrell, Apollo’s Fire has become one of the pre-eminent period-instrument ensembles, causing one to hear baroque material anew.”
–THE INDEPENDENT, London

Jeannette Sorrell is recognized internationally as one of today’s most creative early-music conductors. She has been credited by the UK’s BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE for forging “a vibrant, life-affirming approach to the re-making of early music… a seductive vision of musical authenticity.”

Hailed as “one of the world’s finest Baroque specialists” (ST. LOUIS DISPATCH), Sorrell was one of the youngest students ever accepted to the prestigious conducting courses of the Aspen and the Tanglewood music festivals.  She studied conducting under Robert Spano, Roger Norrington and Leonard Bernstein, and harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam. She won both First Prize and the Audience Choice Award in the 1991 Spivey International Harpsichord Competition, competing against over 70 harpsichordists from Europe, Israel, the U.S., and the Soviet Union.

Sorrell founded Apollo’s Fire in 1992. Since then, she and the ensemble have built one of the largest audiences of any baroque orchestra in North America. She has led AF in sold-out concerts at London’s BBC Proms and London’s Wigmore Hall, Madrid’s Royal Theatre (Teatro Real), the Grand Théâtre de l’Opéra in Bordeaux, the Aldeburgh Festival (UK), the Tanglewood Festival, Boston’s Early Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, the Library of Congress, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), among others.

As a guest conductor, Sorrell has worked with many of the leading American symphony orchestras and is represented by Columbia Artists Management (CAMI). In December she will make her Kennedy Center debut conducting the National Symphony in performances of Handel’s Messiah. Her 2013 debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as conductor and soloist in the complete Brandenburg Concertos was met with standing ovations every night, and hailed as “an especially joyous occasion” (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW). The same occurred with her recent debut with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, where the TWIN CITIES PIONEER PRESS wrote, “Other masters of the [baroque] style have been paying visits, but none has summoned up as much energy, enthusiasm and excitement from the orchestra as Sorrell.” She has also appeared as conductor or conductor/soloist with the New World Symphony (Miami), the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, Utah Symphony, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis with the St. Louis Symphony, Handel & Haydn Society (Boston), and has appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra as guest keyboard artist. In 2014 Ms. Sorrell filled in for British conductor Richard Egarr on 5 days’ notice, leading the complete Brandenburg Concertos and playing the harpsichord solo in Brandenburg no. 5, for the closing concert of the Houston Early Music Festival. This summer she returns to Utah Symphony and makes her debut with Grand Teton Festival.

Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire have released 25 commercial CDs, of which seven have been bestsellers on the Billboard classical chart. Her recordings include the complete Brandenburg Concerti and harpsichord concerti of Bach (with Sorrell as harpsichord soloist and director), which was praised by the LONDON TIMES as “a swaggering version… brilliantly played by Sorrell.” She has also released four discs of Mozart, and was hailed as “a near-perfect Mozartian” by FANFARE RECORD MAGAZINE.  Other recordings include Handel’s Messiah, the Monteverdi Vespers and four creative crossover projects: Come to the River – An Early American Gathering (Billboard Classical #9, 2011); Sacrum Mysterium – A Celtic Christmas Vespers (Billboard Classical #11, 2012); Sugarloaf Mountain – An Appalachian Gathering (Billboard Classical #5, 2015); and Sephardic Journey – Wanderings of the Spanish Jews (Billboard World Music Chart #2 and Billboard Classical #5, Feb. 2016).

Sorrell has attracted national attention and awards for creative programming.  She holds an Artist Diploma from Oberlin Conservatory, and honorary doctorate from Case Western University, two special awards from the National Endowment for the Arts for her work on early American music, and an award from the American Musicological Society, and two different awards from the Cleveland Arts Prize. Passionate about guiding the next generation of performers, Ms. Sorrell has led many baroque projects for students at Oberlin Conservatory and is a frequent guest coach at the Cleveland Institute of Music. She is the architect of AF’s highly successful Young Artist Apprentice Program, which has produced the majority of the leading young baroque professionals in the country today.

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SYLVAIN BERGERON
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.

STEVEN PLAYER
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.

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