Jeannette Sorrell has quickly gained international attention as a leading voice among the new generation of early music conductors. She has been credited by the UK’s BBC Music Magazine for “forginga vibrant, life-affirming approach to the re-making of early music . . . a seductive vision of musical authenticity.”
Born of Swiss and American parents, Sorrell 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 the First Prize and the Audience Choice Award in the 1991 Spivey International Harpsichord Competition, competing against over 70 harpsichordists from Europe, Israel, the US and the former Soviet Union. She holds an Artist Diploma from Oberlin College & Conservatory.
Sorrell founded Apollo’s Fire in 1992. Since then, she and the ensemble have built one of the largest audiences of any baroque orchestra in North America. She has led Apollo’s Fire in sold-out concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall, Madrid’s Teatro Real, the Grand Théâtre de l’Opéra in Bordeaux, Boston’s Early Music Festival, the Library of Congress in Washington DC and the Aspen Music Festival; engagements in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Toronto; and an 11-concert US tour of the Monteverdi Vespers.
Sorrell made her much-acclaimed debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony in April 2013 as conductor and soloist in the complete Brandenburg Concertos. With standing ovations every night, the event was hailed as “an especially joyous occasion” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). Upcoming conducting engagements include the Seattle, Omaha and Edmonton Symphony. She has also conducted the Handel & Haydn Society in Boston, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis with the St. Louis Symphony, the Grand Rapids Symphony (conductor and soloist) and the Akron Symphony; and appeared as guest keyboard artist with the Cleveland Orchestra.
Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire have released 20 commercial CDs, of which four have been bestsellers on the Billboard classical chart. Her recordings include Bach’s complete Brandenburg Concertos and harpsichord concertos, with Sorrell as harpsichord soloist and director, which was praised by the London Times as “a swaggering version . . . brilliantly played by Sorrell.” She has also released four Mozart albums, and was hailed as “a near-perfect Mozartian” by Fanfare Record Magazine. Other recordings include Handel’s Messiah, the Monteverdi Vespers and two creative crossover projects: Come to the River: An Early American Gathering and Sacrum Mysterium: A Celtic Christmas Vespers.
Sorrell has attracted national attention and awards for creative programming. 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 awards from the Cambridge Society of Early Music and the American Musicological Society. Passionate about guiding the next generation of performers, Sorrell has led many baroque projects for students at Oberlin College & Conservatory and the Cleveland Institute of Music.