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, and is credited by the U.K.’s 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 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.

Hailed as “one of the world’s finest Baroque specialists” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) and “a thrillingly adventurous interpreter” (Twin Cities Pioneer Press), Sorrell 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, the Florida Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, and Handel & Haydn Society (Boston), among others.

Sorrell is the founder of APOLLO’S FIRE and has led the renowned ensemble as conductor and soloist in sold-out concerts at London’s BBC Proms, Carnegie Hall, Madrid’s Royal Theatre (Teatro Real), London’s Wigmore Hall, the Grand Théâtre de l’Opéra in Bordeaux, the Aldeburgh Festival (UK), the Tanglewood and Ravinia festivals, Boston’s Early Music Festival, the Library of Congress, the National Gallery (Washington), and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), among others. 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 2.5 million views of their YouTube videos, Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire have released 28 commercial CDs, of which 8 have been bestsellers on the Billboard classical chart.  She 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 Sugarloaf Mountain – An Appalachian Gathering (Billboard Classical Crossover #5); 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 has attracted national awards for her creative programming, which has brought many new listeners to early music through the use of contextual and dramatic elements.  She has been featured on Living the Classical Life, and is the subject of a forthcoming documentary by Academy award-winning director Allan Miller.

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, she is the architect of Apollo’s Fire’s highly successful Young Artist Apprentice program, which has produced many of the nation’s leading young professional baroque players.

“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