Apollo’s Fire takes audiences to sunny Mediterranean

Erica Crist

Kent Classic Arts presents Apollo’s Fire, The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra performing what has been called a “musical bonfire” in a concert of vocal, instrumental and dance music from Spain and Italy at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow in the University Auditorium.

Taking its name from the Greek God of music and the sun, Apollo’s Fire performs 17th and 18th century music on historically accurate period instruments. The ensemble is composed of early music specialists from throughout North America and Europe.

Founding Music Director Jeannette Sorrell of Cleveland Heights planned the program, chose the music, arranged the pieces for a whole ensemble and titled the concert “Mediterranean Nights.”

“In this concert we’re trying to transport ourselves to a sunny, majestic setting,” Sorrell said. “It’s like being on a beach in the Mediterranean.”

In addition to directing the performance, Sorrell will also be featured on the harpsichord. Featured soloists include David Greenberg (violin), Nell Snaidas (soprano) and Steve Player (guitar, Spanish dancer).

Greenberg, the associate concert master of Apollo’s Fire from Halifax, Nova Scotia, studied Baroque violin at Indiana University’s Early Music Institute in the ’80s.

While serving with Toronto’s Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in the ’90s, he began specializing in the performance of Scottish Baroque folk music. Greenberg said being received by elders in the Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, community as one of their own was the biggest honor of his career. This island off Canada has the best living, unbroken example of 18th century highland Scottish folk fiddle music, he said.

Greenberg will be improvising solos throughout chamber works by Castello, Marini and Hidalgo during the “Mediterranean Nights” concert.

“When I play the solos, I have a folk element there,” Greenberg said. “It will be something out of the ordinary expectation – a little more wild than the style people are used to.”

These types of improvised solos are what will make the “Mediterranean Nights” concert such a unique event to attend, according to Sorrell.

“The idea of this program has been in my head for a long time,” she said. “But this type of music depends so much on the improvisatory contribution of each participant.”

Greenberg said he hopes he can “help the audience transcend the disturbing reality of the present for a few hours” during the concert.

Snaidas, of Manhattan, will be singing soprano with Apollo’s Fire for the first time.

She began her professional career as a student at the Mannes College of Music in New York. Her specialization in Spanish and Italian Baroque music has since taken her all over Europe and North America. Recent projects include a tour of Mexico with her own all-female Baroque ensemble, Reconstruction.

She said the audience can expect a dramatic experience from a show that is fiery, energetic, fun and flashy and set to a Mediterranean rhythm.

“This isn’t people standing there and singing,” Snaidas said. “This is lively with scenes being acted. It’s a dynamic way to see Baroque music, and this concert would be a great way to experience Baroque music for the first time.”

Sorrell’s arrangement of the Boccherini Fandango for two harpsichords, castanets, strings and a Spanish dancer will bring the evening to a finish.

“I want people to go away feeling uplifted, energized and curious about this music,” she said.

Sorrell has won international attention as leading a new generation of early music conductors. She studied at the Tanglewood Music Festival under Roger Norrington and Leonard Bernstein, and under Robert Spano at Oberlin College. As a harpsichordist, she studied with Lisa Crawford and Gustav Leonhardt.

Sorrell said the proudest moment in her career was when she received an honorary doctorate from Case Western Reserve University in May 2004.

Ann Waters, the coordinator of Kent Classic Arts, said students should go to the Apollo’s Fire concert because it’s a rare opportunity to see Baroque music played as outstanding as this.

“This is authentic music and dancing that all has historical validity,” Waters said. “The performers are lively and interesting. The director is amazing in terms of energy, and she never forgets that this music is meant to be entertainment.”

Sorrell said that there is so much variety and so many theatrical elements to this concert that students should go even if they aren’t music majors.

Contact performing arts reporter Erica Crist at [email protected].


What: Kent Classic Arts presents Apollo’s Fire

When: 7:30 p.m. tomorrow

Where: University Auditorium

Cost: $10 for faculty and staff, free to students with valid ID