Jeannette Sorrell, conductor

“Sorrell is an absolute dynamo onstage and a pleasure to see conduct….a force to be reckoned with.”
– San Francisco Classical Voice, 2019

“Sorrell led a splendid performance. Wonderful vitality… lithe, glowing and elegant. It’s difficult for a “Messiah” performance to stand out. But this one did.”
– THE NEW YORK TIMES, Anthony Tommasini, chief critic
(review of Messiah with New York Philharmonic), 2021

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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.” She is the subject of the documentary by Oscar-winning director Allan Miller, titled PLAYING WITH FIRE: Jeannette Sorrell and the Mysteries of Conducting, commercially released in 2023.

Bridging the period-instrument and symphonic worlds from a young age, Sorrell studied conducting under Leonard Bernstein, Roger Norrington and Robert Spano 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.

As a guest conductor, Sorrell made her New York Philharmonic debut in 2021 and Philadelphia Orchestra debut in 2022, both to rave reviews. She has repeatedly conducted the Pittsburgh Symphony, St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Utah Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque in San Francisco, and New World Symphony, and has also led the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (Bach’s St John Passion), the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Opera St Louis with the St Louis Symphony, the Calgary Philharmonic (Canada), Royal Northern Sinfonia (UK), Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León (Spain), Grand Rapids Symphony, and North Carolina Symphony, among others.

In 2023-24, she returns to the New York Philharmonic, and makes debuts with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Houston Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, the National Arts Centre Chamber Orchestra (Ottawa), and the Orchestra of St Luke’s at Carnegie Hall.

Sorrell has been featured on Living the Classical Life, and has attracted national awards for her creative programming and her “storytelling” approach to early music, which has attracted many new listeners to the genre.

As the founder and artistic director of APOLLO’S FIRE, Sorrell has led the renowned period ensemble in sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Madrid Royal Theatre, London’s BBC Proms, St Martin-in-the-Fields, and many other venues in North America and Europe. At home in Cleveland, she and Apollo’s Fire have built one of the largest audiences of any baroque orchestra in North America.

With over 14 million views of their YouTube videos, Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire have released 30 commercial CDs, of which 11 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 CD recordings of the Bach St John Passion and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons have been chosen as best in the field by the SUNDAY TIMES of London (2020 and 2021).  Her Monteverdi Vespers recording was chosen by BBC Music Magazine as one of “30 Must-Have Recordings for Our Lifetime” (September 2022).  Her discography also includes the complete Brandenburg Concerti and harpsichord concerti of Bach (Billboard Classical Top 10 in 2012), four discs of Mozart, Handel’s Messiah, and five creative crossover projects, including Sephardic Journey (Billboard World Music #2, Classical #7) and Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain (Billboard Classical #3, and named “Festive Disc of the Year” by GRAMOPHONE).

She holds an Artist Diploma from Oberlin Conservatory, an honorary doctorate from Case Western University 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.