Jeannette Sorrell is a leading voice among the new generation of early music conductors. She has been credited by the U.K.’s BBC Music Magazine for “forging a vibrant, life-affirming approach to the re-making of early music… a seductive vision of musical authenticity.”
In 2010 and 2011, Sorrell led sold-out concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall, the Royal Theatre (Teatro Real) in Madrid, the Grand Théâtre de l’Opéra in Bordeaux, and major halls in Lisbon (Portugal), Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, and Boston, all with Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra of which she is the founder and Music Director.
Sorrell takes her inspiration from the 17th-century concept of Affekt, in which baroque dramatic devices are used to move the emotions of the listeners, in a highly personal way.
Sorrell makes her conducting debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony in April with the complete Brandenburg Concertos. Other upcoming conducting engagements include the Seattle Symphony and Omaha Symphony. She has also conducted the Handel & Haydn Society in Boston, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis with the St. Louis Symphony, and the Grand Rapids Symphony (conductor and soloist); and has appeared as guest keyboard artist with the Cleveland Orchestra.
Sorrell’s appearances in the U.S. with Apollo’s Fire include an 11-concert U.S. tour of the Monteverdi Vespers, as well as engagements at the Aspen Music Festival, the Library of Congress, and the Ojai International Festival in California. On their series in Cleveland, Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire enjoy one of the largest audiences of any baroque orchestra in the country.
Sorrell’s discography includes 20 commercial CDs, of which four have been bestsellers on the Billboard classical chart. Her recordings include the complete Brandenburg Concerti and harpsichord concerti of Bach (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 discs of Mozart, 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 is the recipient of two special grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as an honorary doctorate from Case Western University, the Bodky Award from the Cambridge Society of Early Music, and the Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society.
Sorrell was one of the youngest students ever accepted to the 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 U.S., and the Soviet Union. She holds an Artist Diploma from Oberlin Conservatory, where she was immediately invited to join the faculty of the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute upon graduation. Passionate about guiding the next generation of performers, Ms. Sorrell has led many baroque projects for students at Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland Institute of Music.