Evening Entertainment

Apollo’s Fire to spark interest in Protestant history

no thumb

Apollo’s Fire brings a musical story on Protestant church history to the Amphitheater tonight.

Cast of Apollo’s Fire. Submitted photo.



Emma Morehart | Staff Writer

The members of Apollo’s Fire bowed to the audience’s applause after their performance at Chautauqua in 2007, but this year’s performance of “Come to the River” may yield even better results.

“This program is really special for Chautauqua in particular because Chautauqua has this long tradition of focusing on Protestant church history and the different ideals that have been discussed,” said Jeannette Sorrell, the founder of Apollo’s Fire.

At 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater, the performers will gather again to give a concert complete with a mixture of singing, acting and instrumental music.

Of the 11 performers, six are singers and five are instrumentalists. The music includes folk, baroque and old-time music, and the instruments include a hammered dulcimer, fiddle, harpsichord, wooden flute, cello, guitar and banjo.

“This show is pretty unique,” said Tina Bergmann, who plays the hammered dulcimer and sings in the show. “It’s unusual; it’s both old-time music and really different instruments you would not find in an old-time band for sure. It’s its own animal.”

A story line about a 19th-century preacher’s journey drives the performance. The plot, which is written by Sorrell and is loosely based on historical figures, follows a preacher’s journey with his family from Pennsylvania to Kentucky.

The show begins with ballads and barn dances and ends with American Protestant revival-themed music as one of the characters murders a man, spends 20 years in prison, finds faith in Jesus and changes his life.

“I feel really akin to what Jeannette does, putting story and drama first, and not just making pretty sounds,” said Ross Hauck, a guest artist in Apollo’s Fire and the character who finds his faith.

Many of the musicians in Apollo’s Fire joined the group with varying backgrounds, interests and musical styles. Trained in old-time music, Bergmann prefers to memorize her music, even though she only has two weeks to do so before the first show. Hauck was classically trained in piano and cello for years and then switched to studying voice in college.

“There’s a virtuosity,” Hauck said. “Every musician on stage comes with years and years of experience and training. … We’re tight as a unit.”

Hauck said there is a feeling of professionalism combined with the sense of immediacy that comes with folk music.

Apollo’s Fire is a Cleveland-based orchestra that Sorrell formed in 1992 when she saw a need for a group that was dedicated to baroque music. Because the ensemble is primarily an instrumental group, Sorrell invites guest artists like Hauck to sing in specific programs.

“It’s always interesting to hear classically trained musicians do crossover stuff and still keep it authentic,” Hauck said.

Bergmann also said she is confident in the group members’ ability to combine their talents to produce this crossover show.

“This group has been around for about 15 years, and it did take a little bit of time for us to find truly common ground, but I believe that we’ve done it, and I’m pleased with the product,” Bergmann said.

Although Sorrell said she was amazed by the enthusiasm and setting of Chautauqua a few years ago, she is just as excited about this year.

“I’m excited about the chance to connect with an audience that is interested in Protestant-American church history, which I think most people at Chautauqua are,” Sorrell said.

’40s music to electrify stage



Bill Tole. Submitted photo.

Elora Tocci | Staff Writer

The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and The Pied Pipers will bring back the “good ol’ days” at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater.

The group will play ’40s music with a universal appeal — think Frank Sinatra with a Michael Buble twist.

“We want to keep the era alive and tap into the younger market, get young people excited about ’40s-inspired music,” said Nancy Knorr, vocalist for The Pied Pipers.

Knorr will grace the stage with her brother Bill Tole, who leads the orchestra. The two take pride in keeping alive the musical legacy of another sibling duo — Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey.

“It feels like history repeating itself,” Knorr said.

The Dorsey brothers performed together in their early years but argued a lot and went their separate ways before coming back together much later in their musical lives.

“They were both very talented, and to be able to keep their music alive and bring their influences together again is very special,” Knorr said.

The sibling chemistry adds electricity to the group that keeps its members smiling throughout each set they play. Knorr said the constant traveling the group does can be draining, dealing with the wear and tear inherent in traversing the country on a regular basis. But passion for the music and performing overrides the weariness.

“We love the era and the music so much and are driven by each performance that we are able to overcome all the obstacles,” she said.

And for Knorr in particular, the performance in Chautauqua means a homecoming of sorts. Her first job with The Pied Pipers in 1983 was at the Institution, and she said she holds that performance as one of her fondest memories.

“I fell in love with Chautauqua and everything around it, and I love seeing it on the itinerary,” she said. “Even if the sun isn’t shining, we’ll bring warmth into the Amphitheater.”

Mormon Tabernacle Choir returns to Chautauqua with ‘sublime, beautiful’ sound

no thumb

Beverly Hazen | Staff writer

A stage presence of gracefulness, peace, and vibrant melodic sounds in near-perfect synchronization — that is one description of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, which will perform at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the Amphitheater.

The choir is no stranger to Chautauqua; it has performed at Chautauqua in 1967, 2003 and 2007.

It is no secret that the choir members like performing at Chautauqua.

“The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has told us that this is one of their most favorite venues on which to perform,” said Marty Merkley, vice president and director of programming. “They love the old Amphitheater, the audience and the reception they receive while here.”

He said that it is one of the few places that they get to actively meet the people on the grounds while walking back and forth to the Amp and between meals. Usually they perform at a venue, get back on a bus and leave, never mixing with the audience as they can here.

“Chautauqua is unique in that way,” Merkley said.

According to its website, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir organization was established in 1849, and last year marked its 100th year of recording. The Choir is based in Salt Lake City, Utah, at the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square are members of the Church who volunteer to practice and perform weekly with no monetary gain.

Merkley said there would be approximately 585 people in the tour group of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir here at Chautauqua.

The choir performs weekly on a radio and TV program, “Music and the Spoken Word,” which began to air more than 80 years ago. In 30 minutes, the choir performs choral music and broadcasts inspirational words.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed for 10 U.S. presidents; Ronald Reagan called the performers “America’s Choir” after they sang at his 1981 inauguration.
They have sold millions of records, won scores of awards and performed to audiences in more than 28 different countries.

Merkley said that he is very much looking forward to welcoming the Mormon Tabernacle Choir back to Chautauqua.

“They have a sublime, beautiful, very spiritual sound that they make as a choir,” he said.

The choir’s schedule for the Chautauqua visit begins with breakfast in Buffalo at 7:30 a.m., traveling by bus and arriving here around 10:30 a.m. Sound checks follow, with lunch at 12:30 p.m. and lining up for the matinee concert at 1:45 p.m.

After the concert, the choir and orchestra tour group will have dinner, which will be served in two shifts under a tent at the Athenaeum. They will reassemble at 7:15 p.m. to line up for the evening concert. By the time they regroup after the concert, load the buses and travel, it will be close to midnight before they arrive back in Buffalo.

People travel from near and far to attend the performances of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in Chautauqua. Kass and Marilyn Crooker will be traveling from Ithaca to be here for the weekend.

“(The Mormon Tabernacle Choir) is a name so recognizable,” Marilyn said. “Being in the choral music field, we appreciate their music. We will enjoy two of our great passions this weekend: the incredible Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the magical beauty of Chautauqua. As a visitor to Chautauqua for 60 years, we can’t wait to return.”

1 5 6 7
Page 7 of 7