Jeannette Sorrell, founder and Artistic Director of Apollo’s Fire, is recognized internationally as one of today’s most creative early-music conductors. She has been credited by BBC Music Magazine for forging “a vibrant, life-affirming approach to the re-making of early music.”
Sorrell was one of the youngest students ever accepted to the prestigious conducting courses of the Aspen and the Tanglewood music festivals, studying conducting under Leonard Bernstein, Roger Norrington and Robert Spano, 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.
Sorrell is respected as a leading innovator in creative programming; through this means she has built with Apollo’s Fire one of the largest audiences of any baroque orchestra in North America. She has led Apollo’s Fire in sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall, the BBC Proms in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., Wigmore Hall in London, the Teatro Real (Royal Theatre) in Madrid, the Grand Théâtre de l’Opéra in Bordeaux, and in festivals around the world, including Aldeburgh, Tanglewood, Aspen, Ravinia and Boston Early Music festivals. In many of these concerts she has performed as harpsichord soloist as well as conductor.
Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire have released more than 25 commercial albums, of which eight have been bestsellers on the Billboard Classical chart. Her recordings include the complete Brandenburg Concertos and harpsichord concertos of Bach, praised by The Sunday Times of London as “a swaggering version… brilliantly played by Sorrell.” She has also released four albums of Mozart, and hailed as “a near-perfect Mozartian” by Fanfare Record Magazine. Other recordings include Bach’s St John Passion, Handel’s Messiah, the Monteverdi Vespers. She has been compared to Jordi Savall in her four groundbreaking creative crossover albums, all of which have been bestsellers on Billboard; these explore the early folk and art music of several global cultures. Her 2018 recording with Apollo’s Fire of Songs of Orpheus earned a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Solo Voice album.
As a guest conductor, Sorrell is one of the leading baroque specialists in demand with symphony orchestras. During the 2018-19 season, Sorrell makes guest appearances with the Florida Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Utah Symphony. Recent conducting engagements include the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center (Handel’s Messiah), the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the New World Symphony, the Utah Symphony, and the Grand Teton Festival. Her 2013 debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as conductor and soloist in the complete Brandenburg Concertos was met with standing ovations every night, and hailed as “an especially joyous occasion” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). She has also led the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis with the St. Louis Symphony, and the Handel & Haydn Society (Boston), among others, and appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra as a guest keyboard artist.
Sorrell has attracted national attention and awards for creative programming. She holds an Artist Diploma from Oberlin Conservatory, an honorary doctorate from Case Western University, two 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 leading young baroque professionals in the country today, as well as Apollo’s Fire’s new Artistic Leadership Fellowship Program, aimed at developing a new generation of artistic directors in the early music field.