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Jeanette Sorrell

Cleveland Baroque Orchestra "Apollo's Fire"

Friday March 17, 2006

Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church

625 Montgomery Ave Bryn Mawr, PA

Artist web site:

PCM: When did you start studying piano?


Jeanette: I was ten.


PCM: Was classical your first choice?


Jeanette: Yes?


PCM: Was it put to like, "Jeanette you're going to study piano!"


Jeanette: I totally wanted to do it. In fact I really wanted to learn piano and begged my parents for a couple of years before I got them.


PCM: You practiced hard as a child?


Jeanette: Yes I did!


PCM: I bet your teachers loved you. When did you start on the harpsichord?


Jeanette: It was when I was in college as an undergraduate. I was studying both piano and conducting. I was required to take a second instrument. I looked through the list and saw harpsichord and thought hum... this should be easy, I'm a pianist. That is why I signed up for harpsichord. When I had the lessons, I really liked the instrument and I saw that it suited my hands well. My hands are small and the keys on the harpsichord are smaller than on the piano. I had always really loved the Baroque repertoire and so it made sense to concentrate on a baroque instrument.


PCM: Where did you pick up your interest in Baroque music?


Jeanette: I'm not really sure, my family listened to classical music in general but not particularly to Baroque music. I'm not sure how but when I was in high school I came across some of the period instrument recordings that were starting to come out at that time from Europe. Recordings of Bach and Mozart on period instruments and I was really drawn to it.


PCM: What made you form Apollo's Fire in 1992?


Jeanette: I had known since I was in College that I wanted to direct a baroque chamber orchestra. That was clear in my mind. Since there aren't many around you can't just go apply for a job. If you want to direct a baroque chamber orchestra, you have to start one yourself. I had just finished my studies for my graduate work at Oberlin and I had gone to Amsterdam to study. When I came back, out of the blue I got called to interview for conductor with the Cleveland Orchestra. I didn't apply but a talent scout had seen me conducting so they invited me to interview. During the course of the interview I kind of  admitted that I wanted to conduct a baroque chamber orchestra, not a big orchestra and at that point they decided that I wasn't the right person for the job. However, the artistic director decided to help me start a baroque orchestra. Thanks to his help we were able to start it. Fourteen years later we still have Apollo's Fire.


PCM: You have an amazing group of musicians in Apollo's Fire. How did you assemble the members?


Jeanette: It is a wonderful group. Many are people I went to school with or met in my studies. Some are people I've met through the network of early music specialists. They live all over not just in Cleveland. They play with us regularly.


PCM: How hard is it to get a tour together?


Jeanette: It is very complicated. We have to assemble the musicians and get them to Cleveland first and then go on tour. We will play this program four times before we will come to Philadelphia. We will get to rehearse for about two weeks before our first four performances in Ohio. We then go to Philadelphia and also Washington DC. We do have to book the people at least a year in advance because they play all over.


PCM: Can you sense if it is a male or female at the podium if you are listening to something that you don't know who is conducting?


Jeanette: Of course it depends on the individual, there are some very masculine female conductors. What I can say about that is in my case, I have a very strong background in dance. I grew up as a ballet dancer. Baroque music really depends on having a buoyancy in the rhythm. Baroque music is closely related to dance and dance rhythm. I do think my dance background really influences my approach to the music. People say they can really hear that when they listen to Apollo's Fire.


PCM: Will this be your first time in the Philadelphia area?


Jeanette: We played at a college outside of Philadelphia about eight years ago. We are very excited to be in this series with the Bach Festival and very excited to be in the Philadelphia area again.



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