Apollo's Fire Opens Ashland University Spectrum Series with ‘A Celtic Christmas’

Apollo's Fire Opens Ashland University Spectrum Series with ‘A Celtic Christmas’

11/12/12 ASHLAND, Ohio - The 2012-2013 Ashland University Spectrum Series opens with Cleveland’s Baroque orchestra Apollo's Fire performing “Sacrum Mysterium: A Celtic Christmas” on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. at the Jack and Deb Miller Chapel.

Produced by the College of Arts and Sciences, Ashland University’s premiere Spectrum Series presents internationally recognized figures in the arts to enhance cultural experiences for the University community and surrounding areas. The Spectrum Series is made possible with support from The Ohio Arts Council with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans, and the Ashland University Activities Budget and Chartering Committee.

“Sacrum Mysterium” is Apollo's Fire's groundbreaking new program that took Northeast Ohio by storm in six sold-out performances last year. Beginning with a Gaelic prayer, candlelight and a sacred procession, Jeannette Sorrell’s celebration of Celtic artistic traditions interweaves renaissance choral music with ancient pagan carols, folk dances and joyous fiddle tunes. A colorful band of bagpipes, flutes, strings and Celtic harp joins the exquisite Apollo’s Singers and the radiant Canadian soprano Meredith Hall.

In addition to Apollo's Fire's evening performance, they will present a Celtic music workshop with Irish flutist Kathie Stewart and hammered dulcimer player Tina Bergmann on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 12:15 p.m. to 1:05 p.m., in the Elizabeth Pastor Recital Hall. Stewart and Bergmann will discuss the origins of Celtic music and its various instruments while demonstrating the music genre on their own instruments.

Long before Christianity took hold in Scotland and Ireland, the ancient Celts celebrated the Winter Solstice and the coming of light and hope. The echoes of Paganism still resounded in the 13th and 14th centuries, when faithful Scots chanted the Vespers of St. Kentigern, Patron Saint of Glasgow. “Sacrum Mysterium” interweaves selections from the medieval Vespers of St. Kentigern with ancient pagan carols and popular tunes from 17th-century Welsh and Scottish manuscripts for lute and harp. Joyous fiddle tunes and Irish dances complete with foot percussion burst forth against the vivid backdrop of the unfolding Christ story. The program evokes the sacred mysteries of a medieval procession in the opening procession, "Oikan ains Bethlehem" (The Babe in Bethlehem). The colorful sounds of antiphonal bagpipes, archlute, harp, percussion, fiddles and recorders are blended in musical arrangements by Sylvain Bergeron and Sorrell.

Named for the classical god of music and the sun, Apollo's Fire was founded in 1992 by the award- winning young harpsichordist and conductor Jeannette Sorrell. Sorrell envisioned an ensemble dedicated to the baroque ideal that music should evoke passions in the listeners. Apollo's Fire is a collection of creative artists who share Sorrell's passion for drama and rhetoric. Apollo's Fire has also toured throughout North America and Europe to sold-out performances and rave reviews while their subscription series in Cleveland has drawn national attention for creative programming. Apollo's Fire has released 18 commercial CDs, and currently records for the British label AVIE.

Jeannette Sorrell has quickly gained international attention as a leading voice among the new generation of early music conductors. She takes her inspiration from the 17th-century concept of Affekt, in which the goal of the musician is to move the emotions of the listeners. Sorrell makes use of baroque dramatic devices, including rhetoric and harmonic tension and release, to bring baroque repertoire to life in a highly personal and communicative way. Born in the U.S. 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 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. Sorrell is twice the recipient of the prestigious "American Masterpieces" grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, for the research and production of "Come to the River." Her awards include 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.

Tickets for the concert are $15 for adults; $12 for senior citizens, students, Ashland University faculty and staff; $10 for groups of 10 or more; and $2 for Ashland University students with identification.

Discounted season passes for the Spectrum Series are also available for purchase, which include one admission to each of the three series performances of Apollo's Fire, Five by Design's “Club Swing,” and Eleone Dance Theatre's Ohio premiere of Dianne McIntyre's “Up the Road a-Piece.” Adult season passes are $36 each; and senior citizens, students, Ashland University faculty and staff season passes are $28 each. All tickets can be purchased through the Ashland University Box Office at 419.289.5125, noon to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, or online (additional fees apply) at www.ashland.edu/tickets.

For more information about the Spectrum Series’ performances and workshops, visit www.ashland.edu/spectrum or contact Tricia Applegate, coordinator of performing arts publicity and events, at 419.289.5950 or tapplega@ashland.edu.

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.