Jeannette Sorrell, conductor

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

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Jeannette Sorrell is recognized internationally as one of today’s most creative 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.”

Hailed as “one of the world’s finest Baroque specialists” (St Louis Post-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 HallMadrid’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.  Recent engagements include the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center (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), the Grand Teton Music Festival, 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.

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 many of the leading young baroque professionals in the country today.

“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