Jeannette Sorrell, conductor

“Jeannette Sorrell… exudes stylish energy – a blend of scholarship and visceral intensity.”
– Gramophone Magazine

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GRAMMY®-winning conductor Jeannette Sorrell is recognized internationally as one of today’s most compelling interpreters of Baroque and Classical repertoire.  She is credited by BBC Music Magazine for “forging a vibrant, life-affirming approach to early music.”

The daughter of a European immigrant father and American mother, she grew up as a musician and dancer. She studied conducting under Leonard Bernstein, Robert Spano, and Roger Norrington at the Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals. As a harpsichordist, she studied with Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam and won First Prize and the Audience Choice Award in the Spivey International Harpsichord Competition, competing against over 70 harpsichordists from Europe, Israel, the U.S., and the Soviet Union.

Sorrell is the founder and artistic director of APOLLO’S FIRE, and has led the renowned period ensemble as conductor and harpsichord soloist in sold-out concerts from Carnegie Hall and London’s BBC Proms to the Tanglewood and Ravinia festivals. At home in Cleveland, she and Apollo’s Fire have built one of the largest audiences of any baroque orchestra in North America.

In demand with symphony orchestras and period groups alike, Sorrell makes debuts this season with the New York Philharmonic (Handel’s Messiah) and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (Bach’s St John Passion). She has repeatedly conducted the Pittsburgh Symphony, St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Utah Symphony, and New World Symphony, and also led the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Opera St Louis with the St Louis Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco, the Florida Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic (Canada), and the Royal Northern Sinfonia (UK), among others.

With over 7 million views of their YouTube videos, Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire have released 26 commercial CDs, of which 8 have been bestsellers on Billboard Classical.  Sorrell won a GRAMMY® in 2019 for her album “Songs of Orpheus” with Apollo’s Fire and tenor Karim Sulayman. Her recordings include the complete Brandenburg Concerti and harpsichord concerti of Bach (Billboard Classical Top 10 in 2012).  She has also released four discs of Mozart.  Other recordings include Bach’s St John Passion, Handel’s Messiah, the Monteverdi Vespers (Billboard Classical Top 10) and five creative crossover projects, including Sephardic Journey – Wanderings of the Spanish Jews (Billboard World Music #2, Classical #7) and Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain (Billboard Classical #3, and named “Festive Disc of the Year” by GRAMOPHONE).

Sorrell is the subject of the 2019 documentary by Academy award-winning director Allan Miller, titled PLAYING WITH FIRE.  She has also been featured on Living the Classical Life. She has attracted national awards for her creative programming and her “storytelling” approach to early music, which has attracted many new listeners through the use of contextual and dramatic elements.

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 an award from the American Musicological Society.  Passionate about guiding the next generation of performers, Sorrell is the architect of Apollo’s Fire’s Young Artist Apprentice program, which has produced many of the nation’s leading young professional baroque players; and the new Artistic Leadership Fellows program.

“Jeannette is that rare combination of keen insight and intelligence matched with depth and passion. It is a joy is to be able to be inspired and informed by her work.”
– Robert Spano, Music Director, Atlanta Symphony