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|APOLLO'S FIRE BRINGS VIVALDI TO TELEVISION|
Across the country – from the Aspen Music Festival to Chautauqua to Boston – Apollo's Fire's performances of Vivaldi concertos have brought captivated audiences to their feet. Music Director Jeannette Sorrell thinks of Vivaldi as the "rock-n'-roll" composer of the 18th century, and the AF musicians revel in Vivaldi's driving rhythms.
Now Apollo's Fire and Vivaldi will join forces to bring this repertoire to television audiences. On Feb. 27, the ensemble will perform a studio concert with live audience at the state-of-the-art studios of PBS affiliate WVIZ-TV in Cleveland. The performance will be taped for future broadcast on WVIZ and other PBS stations.
The 1-hour program will consist of highlights from this week's subscription program, which includes Vivaldi's Four Seasons, his Concerto for Two Cellos, and Jeannette Sorrell's arrangement of Vivaldi's La Folia.
WVIZ-TV Senior Director of Content Mark Smukler said, "We are very excited about this collaboration with Apollo's Fire. It's something we've discussed for a couple of years, and now that we're settled in our new IdeaStream studios, this project will be a wonderful way to showcase the exciting possibilities of the studio – as well as bringing the music of this outstanding ensemble to a potentially vast audience."
Apollo's Fire subscribers, donors and invited guests can be a part of the studio audience on Wed. Feb. 27 by contacting Emma Joseph at 216.320.0012/ext. 2, or firstname.lastname@example.org. The 1-hour performance is preceded by tours of the IdeaStream studios, and followed by a reception with the musicians. Seating is limited and reservations are required.
|APOLLO'S FIRE AND IMG ARTISTS TEAM UP
FOR VIVALDI TOUR
Renowned mezzo-soprano Jennifer Larmore Collaborates with AF on the Road
Over two years ago, agent Mark Williams of the international company IMG Artists approached Apollo's Fire about a special project tour, and asked Jeannette to consider a collaboration with one of the acclaimed singers on IMG's roster. Jeannette replied that she would be delighted to work with mezzo Jennifer Larmore, whose outstanding work in the area of Vivaldi and Handel operas has helped bring this neglected repertoire to the public in recent years.
Apollo's Fire will now set off to the sunny South with Ms. Larmore, performing a collaborative program that features both the orchestra and the singer. The repertoire includes Vivaldi's Four Seasons, a set of arias from his neglected operatic masterpiece Orlando Furioso, and two brilliant arias by Handel.
"We're delighted to work with such a consummate artist as Jennifer Larmore," said Jeannette. "She brings great emotional commitment, superb diction, and a lovely stylistic sense to her singing of Vivaldi and Handel. I think that Jennifer and Apollo's Fire will be an excellent match."
Saturday, March 1 – University of Florida at Gainesville
For further information about these concerts, click on the links above.
|NEA FUNDS MAJOR APOLLO'S FIRE PROJECT|
Apollo's Fire was one of only three baroque orchestras in the country to receive one of the coveted NEA grants this year. The upcoming Vivaldi Seasons concerts, the IMG tour, and the related events are all part of the NEA-funded project, which is titled, "Vivaldi's Seasons: Context & Creativity." The project runs from Feb. 18 through Mar. 18, and includes six local concerts, four tour engagements, 1 Family Concert, and the PBS-TV studio concert taping.
Thursday, February 21, 7:30pm
Fairlawn Lutheran Church
Friday, February 22, 8:00pm &
Saturday, February 23, 8:00pm
St. Paul's Church, Cleveland Heights
Sunday, February 24, 4:00pm
Rocky River Presbyterian Church
Monday, February 25, 7:30pm
Christ Presbyterian Church, Canton
|THE PRIEST & HIS ORPHANS|
by Jeannette Sorrell
The setting: The Pietà, famous orphanage of Venice, 1724.
After the splendid concert, the young musicians are greeted by ecstatic coughing and shuffling from the crowd, who are not allowed to applaud at this "church service." Several wealthy gentlemen make their way to the iron screen to proffer marriage proposals to the prettiest girls.
* * *
In baroque Italy, the colorful sounds of lute, theorbo, guitar, and sometimes harp, were a part of the orchestral palette. All of these instruments are basso continuo instruments, meaning that they improvise chords of the bass line played by the cellist. For this reason, composers did not specifically indicate the names of the plucked instruments; rather, each performance would make use of whatever continuo instruments might be available at that time.
In many performances of Vivaldi, the plucked instruments are omitted because conductors may not realize that those instruments should participate. Apollo's Fire performs Vivaldi with as many plucked instruments as possible. This week we welcome Christa Patton, baroque harpist extraordinaire, and William Simms, one of our favorite baroque guitar and theorbo players.
Vivaldi, the music-master at the Pieta orphanage in Venice, was a priest who seemed more interested in music than religion. In composing hundreds of concertos for his young protégés, was the great developer of ritornello form – the form that became the model for concerto-writing by all European composers of the century, including J.S. Bach. The Italian word "ritornello" means something that returns. The same word is used to mean the refrain in pop music – and indeed, Vivaldi's ritornellos convey the bold and driving sense of rhythm and melody that is more commonly associated with pop music.
It is not surprising that Vivaldi's concertos are by far the most popular pieces in the classical repertoire. Like pop composers today, Vivaldi was writing these concertos for teenagers – (orphaned ones, in his case). Inspired by the youthful energy of his young interpreters, he imbued his concertos with the same sense of driving rhythm and earthy harmonies that we all respond to in rock music. We in Apollo's Fire think of him as the rock-n-roll composer of the 18th century.
In 1725 Vivaldi published a collection of twelve concertos titled Il cimento dell'Armonia e dell'Inventione - The Contest Between Harmony and Invention. With this curious title, he unleashed a revolutionary concept upon Western music: should music simply be about harmony, or could it serve to illustrate inventive ideas, events, moods, natural scenes, etc? Vivaldi set out to prove that it could do both. The first four concertos of the collection, titled Le Quattro Stagioni (The Four Seasons), are virtuoso demonstrations of music in the service of storytelling – in this case, the story of Nature and her various moods.
The role of the performer as an animated and improvisatory storyteller was fundamental to baroque performance in general, and to the Four Seasons in particular. The notes on the page exist to convey an emotion or mood or event, and the performer's job is to evoke those feelings in the listener. Thus these concertos are a fresh experience for us each night – always an adventure.
Join Apollo's Fire for an evening of animated and colorful storytelling, and rediscover the reasons why Vivaldi's Four Seasons took the world by storm!
Apollo's Fire's CD recording of Vivaldi Concertos, including two of the concertos performed in these concerts, is available through the AF office at 216.320.0012 and online at www.apollosfire.org.
The orphans for whom Vivaldi was writing may have been the most music-absorbed young people that history has known. These girls had no identity other than their roles in the elite orchestra. They had no last names, and were known as "Marietta dal Violino," or "Bernardina dal Violoncello," etc. Vivaldi often wrote his concertos for a particular girl, indicating her name at the top of the manuscript. Many of the most virtuosic violin concertos were written for "Anna Maria dal Violino."
It is well known that these orphans received proposals of marriage from wealthy gentlemen. What most people do not realize, though, is that any orphan of the Pietà who chose to marry was required to sign a contract saying that she would never perform as a musician again. This was how the Pietà maintained its standing as a leading tourist attraction of the world. Thus, many of the girls turned down their marriage offers, because they could not face the idea of living without music.
Anna Maria dal Violino received proposals year after year, and was the subject of love poems printed in Venice newspapers. Nevertheless, she apparently could not bring herself to marry in view of the sacrifice she would have to make. She remained at the Pietà her entire life.
|PRAETORIUS CHRISTMAS VESPERS PRODUCES LANDMARK TICKET & CD SALES|
So many of the pieces are achingly beautiful, touching or euphoric… Sorrell and the artists basked in the splendor. Apollo's Singers, the supremely refined chorus, were vivid and cohesive, and the young voices of Apollo's Musettes and Oberlin Choristers infused their music with fresh appeal.
–Donald Rosenberg, THE PLAIN DEALER
If Praetorius was deliriously happy, so were the performers, not to mention the box office staff. Over 2000 people attended the December performances of Praetorius Christmas Vespers – Jeannette Sorrell's unique evocation of a 17th-century Christmas Vespers service compiled from selections by the great Lutheran composer Michael Praetorius.
In addition, Apollo's Fire new CD recording of this program, which was released in conjunction with the concerts, sold over 600 copies in merely two months. Performers and patrons celebrated the long-awaited release of the CD at a party at Nighttown Restaurant in Cleveland Heights.
The extravagant multi-generational project involved nine youth soloists (Apollo's Musettes), 60 members of the excellent children's choir the Oberlin Choristers, seven professional early music soloists, the acclaimed Apollo's Singers, trumpets, sackbuts, timpani, lutes, antiphonal choirs, recorders, strings, organs, and… the kitchen sink.
Afterwards, the AF mailbox was flooded with thank-you notes from the youthful performers:
His Majesty Louis XIV cordially invites you to an evening of music, entertainment, and feasting in the 17th-century manner, The Sun King puts his royal musicians at your disposal, performing lively and haunting works by the great French composers St. Colombe and Marin Marais (made famous in the film Tous les matins du monde). The King's royal playwright, Molière, unveils some of his most hilarious scenes from his latest comedy. Following the royal feast, our noble patrons may participate in dancing the Menuet, or try their hand at a musical game.
La soirée la plus élégante de l'année 2008!
Presented by the Friends of Apollo's Fire
Save the Date
Saturday, April 16th at the Oakwood Club Invitations to be mailed in mid-March.
For more information or to receive an invitation please contact the Friends of Apollo's Fire at 216.295.3911
|From the Development Staff|
Apollo's Fire is grateful to the generosity of all the donors who support our efforts to bring creative, innovative baroque music to the Greater Cleveland area. Donations to our Annual Fund, which supports the concerts each season, are presently at $67,000. Our goal is to reach $90,000 by June 30.
Our productions recruit talent from the national and international pool - thereby bringing the world to Cleveland. Though we book our musicians and artists well in advance, bringing them here is expensive. We are grateful to the Charioteers, led by Board Member Sally Brown, who pick up our talented musicians at the airport and take them to the Innkeepers, who house them. These volunteers help keep our operation costs down so that the majority of our resources go to artistic expenses.
Please consider bringing a friend to one of our Vivaldi Four Seasons concerts. This is one of the most important ways you can help Apollo's Fire! We hear over and over again from patrons: "I went to one concert and I was hooked!"
If you would like to talk with us about other ways you can help – special gifts, concert sponsorship, etc., please give us a call at the AF office – 216.320.0012/ext.3. We look forward to talking with you!
– Patricia Egan and Shawna Hofstetter
©2007 Apollo's Fire