Drama & precision: Grammy Award-winning Apollo’s Fire orchestra to take Amp stage with expressive Baroque performance


Apollo’s Fire

Apollo’s Fire, The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, will be bringing Baroque back to Chautauqua at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, July 27 in the Amphitheater.

Tonight’s performance, titled “Apollo’s Fire: Love in Venice,” will include works such as “Summer Concerto” and “La Folia (Madness)” by Antonio Vivaldi, “Che si può fare” by Barbara Strozzi, and works from Claudio Monteverdi.

Baroque was a style of music and other arts from the early 1600s to the 1740s, with popularity spanning into the 1800s in the Iberian Peninsula. 

“What we do is bring Baroque music to life in the way it was fresh and new when it was composed,” said Apollo’s Fire founder and musical director Jeannette Sorrell. “A lot of that is about moving the emotional moods of the listeners. That’s kind of what we’re obsessed with in Apollo’s Fire. That’s what we will be trying to do.”

Sorrell said people might expect a more academic performance, but Apollo’s Fire intends to bring the opposite of that.

“The way Baroque music was performed and meant to be performed in the 17th and 18th centuries was a lot about being expressive and emotional with music,” she said. “That priority got lost in the 20th century, and people lost sight on how to play Baroque music.” 

Part of Apollo’s Fire mission, she said, is learning and performing Baroque music the way it was meant to be played.

“We’re kind of like detectives — unearthing the way music was meant to be played originally and trying to bring it to life for people,” Sorrell said.

Apollo’s Fire has played around the world, including several European and United States tours. The ensemble has performed on the BBC multiple times, and it has played for sold-out crowds in Wigmore Hall, the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Carnegie Hall.

In 2019, Apollo’s Fire won a Grammy in the “Classical Vocal Solo” category for its Songs of Orpheus album.

Still, the group is looking forward to playing in Chautauqua’s Amphitheater.

“Playing in an amp is always extra fun because the experience of fresh air, and being closer to nature just adds an extra element of joy and brings people together as a community,” she said. “We love that.”

Apollo’s Fire is a particularly special ensemble, Sorrell said, because each musician in the group is handpicked.

“We’re all very much on the same page about wanting to play with emotional expression and drama, and bringing that sense of emotional commitment to the music in a way that really translates for an audience,” she said.

In other orchestras, Sorrell said it’s possible to have musicians from different backgrounds and experiences that clash with one another. Apollo’s Fire musicians, instead, are picked so there is minimal clashing. 

“We can achieve a really high level of precision because we all have the same approach to the music,” she said. 

Sorrell loves the ambiance at Chautauqua and is excited to return.

“Chautauqua has such a great atmosphere,” she said. “We always love to be a part of it.”

Tags : Apollo's FireBaroqueGrammy Award-winningLove in VeniceorchestraPopular EntertainmentWeek Five

The author Max Zambrano

Max Zambrano is a recent Western Kentucky University graduate in his first season at Chautauqua. At WKU, he served as editor-in-chief of the Talisman magazine and website, majored in political science and minored in journalism writing. Max has traveled to Australia and Morocco, and he hopes to visit all 50 states (28 to go). This summer, he will report on interfaith lectures and sacred song services. Let him know if you want to play backgammon on Bestor Plaza.