Apollo's Fire proudly unveils a new, creative program by Music Director Jeannette Sorrell, in collaboration with guest Co-Director Nell Snaidas. Sephardic Journey will be premiered in five concerts throughout Northeast Ohio, including two performances at a synagogue.

The program follows the musical journey of the Sephardic Jews, who flourished in Spain during the 14th century and were then exiled and dispersed across the Mediterranean and the Middle East. In the tradition of Sorrell's previous crossover programs such as A Celtic Christmas (now a best-selling CD), this new program interweaves sacred early music with the folk music of the period. In this case, highlights from the choral work, Songs of Solomon, by Jewish baroque composer Salamone Rossi are interwoven with the Sephardic folk songs sung by Rossi's people during times of celebration, mourning, feasting and romance.

Soprano Nell Snaidas, guest Co-Director, is one of the leading proponents of Sephardic music today. She has been steeped in the repertoire since her youth, and is a specialist in Ladino song. (Ladino is the language spoken by the Sephardic Jews in Spain.) "Nell Snaidas' knowledge of Sephardic song as a living art... made even evergreen classics feel new" (The Cornell Sun). Nell has been featured on CBC radio alongside Montserrat Figueras and Victoria de los Angeles.

Likewise, Sorrell has won international acclaim and awards for her creative crossover programs, exploring the relationships between early folk music and art music in an historical aesthetic. Describing her previous Mediterranean program, the Plain Dealer wrote, "Scholarly, yet vastly entertaining. . . The blend of music, history and sociology was so seamless that a listener could sit back and absorb the avalanche of influences and idioms without feeling as if trapped in a lecture. That was the beauty of the artistry. Sorrell consistently devises creative, thought-provoking programs and assembles cracker-jack artists, resulting in compelling artistic experiences."

Salamone Rossi was a fascinating composer. Living in Mantua, Italy, in the early 17th century, he worked at the Duke's palace alongside the great Monteverdi. But at night, he walked home to the Jewish ghetto, where he lived with his family. At night, he composed the Songs of Solomon - a large choral work in baroque style with Hebrew text - for his own people.

Sephardic Journey opens with a sequence called "Oh Jerusalem!" in which a traditional Sephardic chant of nostalgia for the homeland receives dramatic treatment. This transitions into a set called "The Temple" featuring sacred Hebrew chant sung by the Sephardic Jews in Spain in the middle ages, as well as Salamone Rossi's splendid settings of these texts in early 17th-century Italian baroque style. A set of love songs closes the first half. The second half evokes the sacred music of a Sabbath service, followed by wedding and feasting music, where the rhythms of the "cymbalum" or hammered dulcimer set toes tapping.

In addition to the acclaimed Apollo's Singers, the program features guest soloists Karim Sulayman (tenor) and Jeffrey Strauss (baritone). Strauss grew up as a young protégé cantor in the synagogue, and brings authenticity, passion and authority to these performances of Hebrew chant.

The colorful ensemble includes lutes, oud, strings, and favorite guest Rex Benincasa on exotic percussion, as well as local favorite Tina Bergmann on hammered dulcimer.

Select biographies are at the end of this press release.

TICKETS for local performances start at $21. Student, senior, young adult, and group discounts are available in select seating sections, and may only be obtained by calling the box office. Student tickets are free in Akron, made possible by the GAR Foundation. Tickets are available through the Apollo's Fire box office at (216) 320-0012 or online at www.apollosfire.org.

PRE-CONCERT TALKS will be given by lutenist Dr. Daniel Shoskes, M.D., one hour before each concert. Shoskes will be joined by Rabbi Roger C. Klein for the two performances at The Temple Tifereth Israel. Join the large and lively crowd who comes for this popular series of talks! Talks are sponsored by the Friends of Apollo's Fire.


Thursday, February 20, 7:30 PM Fairlawn Lutheran Church

3415 West Market Street

Fairlawn, OH 44333

Friday, February 21, 8:00 PM St. Paul's Episcopal Church

2747 Fairmount Blvd.
Cleveland Heights, OH 44106

Saturday, February 22, 8:00PM* The Temple - Tifereth Israel

2600 Shaker Blvd..
Beachwood, OH 44122

Sunday, February 23, 4:00PM Rocky River Presbyterian Church

21750 Detroit Rd.
Rocky River, OH 44116

Tuesday, February 25, 7:30 PM The Temple - Tifereth Israel

2600 Shaker Blvd..
Beachwood, OH 44122

* The Temple's visiting artist, Mordechai Rosenstein and his artwork will be available in the lobby for browsing and purchase at this concert. A world-renowned Jewish artist, Mr. Rosenstein embellishes the Hebrew and English letters to give them a special rhythm on the page.


Jeannette Sorrell, Music Director, has quickly gained international attention as a leading voice among the new generation of early music conductors. She has been credited by the U.K.'s BBC Music Magazine for "forging a vibrant, life-affirming approach to the re-making of early music... a seductive vision of musical authenticity."

Born of Swiss and American parents, 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 the 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. She holds an Artist Diploma from Oberlin Conservatory.

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 Wigmore Hall, Madrid's Royal Theatre (Teatro Real), the Grand Théâtre de l'Opéra in Bordeaux, Boston's Early Music Festival, the Library of Congress in Washington, the Aspen Music Festival; engagements in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto; and an 11-concert U.S. tour of the Monteverdi Vespers.

Sorrell made her much-acclaimed debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony in April as conductor and soloist in the complete Brandenburg Concertos. With standing ovations every night, the event was hailed as "an especially joyous occasion" (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). Upcoming conducting engagements include the Omaha Symphony and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. She has also conducted the Seattle Symphony, Handel & Haydn Society in Boston, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis with the St. Louis Symphony, the Grand Rapids Symphony (conductor and soloist) and the Akron Symphony; and appeared as guest keyboard artist with the Cleveland Orchestra.

Sorrell and Apollo's Fire have released 20 commercial CDs, of which four 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 two creative crossover projects: "Come to the River: An Early American Gathering" and "Sacrum Mysterium: A Celtic Christmas Vespers."

Sorrell has attracted national attention and awards for creative programming. She holds an honorary doctorate from Case Western University, two special awards from the National Endowment for the Arts for her work on early American music, and awards from the Cambridge Society of Early Music and the American Musicological Society. Passionate about guiding the next generation of performers, Ms. Sorrell has led many baroque projects for students at Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland Institute of Music.