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An audience set ablaze with amazing music!

Apollo’s Fire sent us over the moon! Thank you, Mike Greenberg, for putting into word all our thoughts and feelings from last Sunday’s concert!

Dance to the music, and vice versa

By Mike Greenberg – Incident Light publish date October 8, 2019

Searching for a word to convey the distinctive character of the baroque orchestra Apollo’s Fire and its artistic director, Jeannette Sorrell, I settled on “presence” – the quality of fully inhabiting the present time, the present place, the present action, even the present body.

Listen to Barry Brake’s interview with Jeannette Sorrell of Apollo’s Fire

“Classical Connections”, October 2, 2019, KPAC 88.3FM.

Interview with Jeannette Sorrell of Apollo's Fire

by Classical Connection | Host Barry Brake

Apollo’s Fire

Apollo’s Fire

October 6th, 2019

“…reviving the baroque ideal…”

“Apollo’s Fire has forged a vibrant, life-affirming approach to the re-making of early music…
European ears have begun to appreciate the blend of intellect and artistry concocted by harpsichordist Sorrell and her colleagues. Their seductive vision of musical authenticity is guided by a shared commitment to honest emotional expression, rooted in period style yet never its slave.” BBC Music Magazine

“Apollo’s Fire, the lauded group from Cleveland, brings joyous spontaneity to its performances.”  The New Yorker 

“Never again even think that ‘classical music’ is boring. Never – if it’s done as well as Apollo’s Fire does it.” COOLCLEVELAND.COM

Named for the classical god of music, healing and the sun, Apollo’s Fire is a GRAMMY®-winning ensemble. The period-instrument orchestra was founded by award-winning harpsichordist and conductor Jeannette Sorrell, and is dedicated to the baroque ideal that music should evoke the various Affekts or passions in the listeners. Apollo’s Fire is a collection of creative artists who share Sorrell’s passion for drama and rhetoric.

Hailed as “one of the pre-eminent period-instrument ensembles” (The Independent, London), Apollo’s Fire has performed five European tours, with sold-out concerts at the BBC Proms in London (with live broadcast across Europe), the Aldeburgh Festival (UK), Madrid’s Royal Theatre, Bordeaux’s Grand Théàtre de l’Opéra, and major venues in Lisbon, Metz (France), and Bregenz (Austria); as well as concerts at the Irish National Concert Hall (Dublin), the Irish National Opera House (Wexford), the Birmingham International Series (UK), the Tuscan Landscapes Festival (Italy), and Belfast Castle with a live broadcast carried by the Associated Press of Europe.

AF’s London 2014 concert was praised as “an evening of superlative music-making… the group combines European stylishness with American entrepreneurialism” (THE TELEGRAPH, UK). This concert was chosen by the TELEGRAPH as one of the “Best 5 Classical Concerts of 2014.”

North American tour engagements include sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall (2018), the Tanglewood Festival (2015 and 2017), the Ravinia Festival (2017 and 2018), the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY (2013, 2014, and 2015), the Boston Early Music Festival series, and the Library of Congress, as well as concerts at the Aspen Music Festival, Caramoor Festival, and major venues in Toronto, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The ensemble has performed two major U.S. tours of the Monteverdi Vespers (2010 and 2014) and a 9-concert tour of the Brandenburg Concertos in 2013.

At home in Cleveland, Apollo’s Fire frequently enjoys sold-out performances at its subscription series, which has drawn national attention for creative programming.

Program

VIVALDI: The Four Seasons – Rediscovered

Members

Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra

Venue

Temple Beth-El
Address: 211 Belknap Place
Time: 3:15 PM

“First rate… rendered with consummate skill and artistry…”

- New York Times

“Electrified and sparkling. If this concert didn’t shake your rafters, then nothing will.”

- Sarasota Herald Tribune

Season 77th: A Constellation of Stars

Come and be dazzled and catch some stardust!

Take a look at our stellar line up below and buy your season tickets now!

Apollo’s Fire

October 6, 2019

Named for the classical god of music, healing, and the sun, APOLLO’S FIRE is the international baroque orchestra based in Cleveland, Ohio. The GRAMMY–winning ensemble was founded by harpsichordist and conductor Jeannette Sorrell, to revive the baroque ideal that music should evoke the various Affekts or passions in the listener. Apollo’s Fire is hailed as “one of the pre–eminent period–instrument ensembles” (The Independent, London). It is renowned for its creative programming,  artistic spontaneity and technical excellence.

Ariel String Quartet with
Ilya Shterenberg

November 10, 2019

Distinguished by its virtuosity, probing musical insight, and impassioned, fiery performances, the Ariel Quartet has garnered critical praise worldwide over the span of nearly two decades.  Formed in Israel in 2000 when they were still teenagers, the Ariel Quartet went on to win the Grand Prize and Gold Medal at the 2006 Fischoff  National Chamber Music Competition, as well as the prestigious Cleveland Quartet Award in 2013. Joining them in this concert is their long-time friend Ilya Shterenberg – Principal Clarinetist of the San Antonio Symphony, who has been hailed by the press: “He possesses that miraculous gift of an innate musical sense…music seemed to flow toward the infinite, as if divinely ordained”.

Akropolis Reed Quintet

January 26, 2020

Now celebrating their 10th anniversary, the Akropolis Reed Quintet was founded in 2009 at the University of Michigan and is the first reed quintet in history to win a Fischoff Gold Medal (2014) as well as the Fischoff Educator Award. They were also awarded the Grand Prize at the Plowman and MTNA national competitions, and 6 national chamber music prizes in total. Hailed by Fanfare Magazine for their “imagination, infallible musicality, and huge vitality,” the San Francisco Chronicle dubbed Akropolis’ recent third album release, The Space Between Us, “pure gold.”

VOCES8

March 1, 2020

The inimitable British vocal ensemble VOCES8 is proud to inspire people through music and share the joy of singing. Touring globally, the group performs an extensive repertory both in its a cappella concerts and in collaborations with leading orchestras, conductors and soloists. Versatility and a celebration of diverse musical expression are central to the ensemble’s performance and education ethos. “The singing of VOCES8 is impeccable in its quality of tone and balance. They bring a new dimension to the word ‘ensemble’ with meticulous timing and tuning.” (Gramophone)

Parker String Quartet

April 26, 2020

Inspiring performances, luminous sound, and exceptional musicianship are the hallmarks of the Grammy Award-winning Parker String Quartet. Renowned for its dynamic interpretations and polished, expansive colors, the group has rapidly distinguished itself as one of the preeminent ensembles of its generation. “..something extraordinary” (New York Times) “..exceptional virtuosity [and] imaginative interpretation” (The Washington Post).

Get Your Season Subscription Today!!!

A complete Season is only $100 (Seniors $75) and includes a Bonus Ticket for a friend! Plus: any ticket may be used for any concert of your choice! This is the best deal in town!

Exquisite Balance

I believe that I now understand “balance” as the word applies to musical groups as well as to the music they chose to play.  I heard an exquisite balance of piano, cello and violin and I enjoyed the perfect – if unlikely – balance of three compositions from three centuries and sensibilities.

First, the performers.  David Finckel, an amazing cellist (and, believe me, as a cellophile I know my celloists) provided the warm, rich music that supported the ensemble.  Philip Setzer, master of the violin, gave each composition the soaring songs required by each composer – even Mendelssohn’s notoriously impossible Scherzo movement.  And Wu Han, hair and fingers flying, demonstrated her deep mastery and understanding of the music she performed.   And this trio worked.  They blended, they were precisely contrapuntal and they obviously enjoyed the performance.   Their music laughed and cried, was joyous and profoundly tragic – all in perfect balance.

Their music laughed and cried, was joyous and profoundly tragic – all in perfect balance.

The music performed by these masters should never have been blended into a single program, but again there was such beautiful balance.  Beethoven, Shostakovich, Mendelssohn: three gifted composers from three entirely different sensibilities.  Beethoven writing fashionable court music, earning his always precarious living by pleasing and surprising his audiences with intricacies and novelties; Shostakovich, literally taking his life in his hands by composing music that warily thumbed its nose at Stalin while contributing to the great artistic tradition of Russia; and Mendelssohn, the Romantic, who wove together threads of Judaism and Christianity to produce a golden fabric of pathos and compelling religiosity.  These three great composers should never have appeared on the same program, but they did and the program was perfectly balanced by their respective geniuses.

And this is exactly what the San Antonio Chamber Music Society aims to do and has done for 76 years now.  We strive always to provide a balanced season of international performers and superb music.  We hope you have enjoyed the season and, with us, you look forward to the 77th season of artistry and our special brand of Sunday afternoon escapism. Our next star-studded season will begin October 6, 2019, with Apollo’s Firea Grammy-winning Baroque ensemble you don’t want to miss. The season continues November 10 with the dynamic Ariel String Quart with Ilya Shterenberg, who just happens to be the Principal Clarinet of our very own San Antonio Symphony. Then, on January 26, 2020, we will present the incomparable Akropolis Reed Quintetdescribed as “pure gold” by the San Francisco Chronicle. On March 1, 2020, the impeccable and wildly popular British vocal ensemble VOCES8 will cross the pond to inspire us with their eight beautifully integrated voices. Our 77th Season will end on April 26, 2020, with the exceptional Parker String Quartet, another Grammy award winner which the New York Times called “something extraordinary”.  As you can see, there will be something for everyone, all fabulous performances to be enjoyed – do come share this enjoyment with us! 

– E Doyle

Han-Setzer-Finckel Trio

April 28, 2019

David Finckel, Wu Han & Philip Setzer

In recent seasons, the dynamic husband-and-wife duo of David Finckel (cellist) and Wu Han (pianist) have teamed up with violinist Philip Setzer—David Finckel’s colleague in the legendary Emerson String Quartet for more than three decades—in performances of the piano trio literature. The Han-Setzer-Finckel Trio is a formidable triumvirate of three masterful musicians– what they can so individually, though, is surpassed by what they do together. As an ensemble, they present a systematic yet passionate approach that sets the bar for how chamber music should be played.

Violinist Philip Setzer, a founding member of the Emerson String Quartet, is a versatile musician with innovative vision and dedication to keep the art form of the string quartet alive and relevant. Mr. Setzer won second prize at the Marjorie Merriweather Post Competition in Washington, DC, and in 1976 received a Bronze Medal at the Queen Elisabeth International Competition in Brussels.

David Finckel and Wu Han are among the most esteemed and influential classical musicians in the world today. Recipients of Musical America’s Musicians of the Year award, the energy, imagination, and integrity they bring to their concert performances and artistic projects go unmatched. San Antonio audiences can still remember the concert they played on our series in March, 2013. Finckel and Han are also co-Artistic-Directors of the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center, Music @Menlo in the San Francisco Bay area, and a Winter Festival in Korea.

Here is an excerpt of an interview of Wu Han conducted by TheaterJones last November:

 

TheaterJones: This is probably a question that you get a lot, but what’s it like to be able to play at such a high level with your husband?

Wu Han: Yes, I do get that question a lot! [Laughs] We started our relationship playing together before being romantically involved and somehow that intensity and chemistry started from the first time we played together. So even before we were involved, people would come up to us and ask, “Are you guys married?” And at the beginning, we just laughed and thought, “What are they talking about?” We are very fortunate, though. We have to make sure we keep things incredibly professional—not taking personal issues into rehearsal or our professional activities. That we make separate. It’s an unusual and treasured relationship, musically especially, so we take it really seriously. We still rehearse a lot and love working together. We just don’t think about who forgot to do dishes last night or didn’t put their clothes away at any of our rehearsals or performances, which I think is what it should be.

A lot of times when chamber groups perform, the members haven’t necessarily played with each other very much, nor do they know each other very well. What’s it like to play in a trio with your husband and then a violinist he’s worked with for decades? How does that inform your rehearsals and performances, that you know each other so well?

It’s fascinating—people assume that if you know each other well, you’ll play well, but that’s never the case—I know many good friends or couples who hardly make music together—they just can’t play together at all. So I think—with David and Phil [Setzer] there’s always been this basic chemistry, even when they first met 35 years ago.

When they first met, they played in a piano trio with Phil’s ex wife on piano, and then they were instrumental in the founding of the Emerson Quartet. But the advantage of playing together for a long time is that you do know each other’s strong points and weak points, so you do very consciously prepare things and make decisions around that. Still, rehearsals are equally intense with people you’ve known 35 years or you’ve known five minutes. There’s no difference in my experience. We’re just very, very lucky that we enjoy each other’s company and enjoy each other’s playing. That’s another unusual aspect of this trio. So far, knock on wood, David and I have been married 29 years, and playing-wise have never really had a major disagreement. Knock on wood, knock on wood! [Laughs]

What’s really great about the repertoire for piano trio? What’s your favorite repertoire for trio, and why?

I love Schubert—there’s just no other composer I love more. So it all started with Schubert! My next favorite composer is Beethoven. These two composers, thank God, both devoted energy to the trio genre. Beethoven wrote seven throughout his life, Schubert wrote 2 major trios before he died. Piano trio is very different from other chamber music genres—each individual has to be a very, very strong player. There cannot be a weak link, either technically or with chamber music skills or listening skills. You have to play piano trios as well as you play your solo repertoire. At the same time, you have to have all the chamber music chops, meaning you have to be able to respond spontaneously, you have to be able to control your instrument, be able to really make sure the balance is correct within the whole, complete group, not just your individual part. It’s a very demanding genre, and we certainly love it. I just think piano trio is the best! This will be our first time playing for the Dallas audience as a trio. Besides the Brahms and Mendelssohn C Minor, there’s a lot more repertoire to go! We just played a program of Shostakovich and Beethoven—it was heaven!

On Sunday, April 28, the stars are aligned when these three legendary musicians come together for a first-time performance in San Antonio. Be there to experience the alchemy of the Han-Setzer-Finckel Trio and witness the magic of three consummate artists expressing diverse musical ideas in one voice.

“It used to be the Beaux Arts Trio that other piano trios had to look up to and attempt to emulate. Now it’s the Han-Setzer-Finckel triumvirate that is the standard bearer.”

Reichel Recommends

Members:

David Finckel (cello) Wu Han (piano) Philip Setzer (violin)

Program

BEETHOVEN
Piano Trio in in E-flat Major, Op. 1, No. 1

SHOSTAKOVICH
Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67

-Intermission-

MENDELSSOHN
Trio No. 2 in C minor, Op. 66

Venue

Temple Beth-El
Address: 211 Belknap Place
Time: 3:15 PM

Experiential Music

The audience at the Eighth Blackbird concert last Sunday were promised a novel and exciting experience; they got it.  If you were expecting four or five string musicians in their somber black suits and dresses performing the usual chamber music fare (16th, 17th and 18th Century composers with maybe a little 19th and 20th century thrown in for good measure), you were definitely surprised.  Rather than the usual, San Antonio Chamber Music Society presented the unusual: six very talented musicians performing very modern music on roughly a dozen instruments.

This was “experiential music” as opposed to “expected music.”  To explain: think about a painting by Georges Seurat, say “A Sunday Afternoon at the Island of the Grande Jatte,” a prime example of pointillism.  The reason it fascinates is a bit of a trick it plays on the brain:  you are deceived into believing you are looking at an ordinary Impressionist painting, but it is actually an impression of impressionism: thousands of tiny dots of paint, leading the brain to the experience of summer light and enjoyment.  The genre-bending compositions performed by Eighth Blackbird accomplished a similar feat.  They weren’t thematic in the usual sense – they were compositions by young composers and their fresh visions of classical music defy being shoved into a box.  Just as in the Seurat painting, it would be useless to try to pick apart each tiny color.  You simply have to take in the whole and just enjoy.  (I did wonder if others in the audience felt as chilled as I did during “The Clarity of Cold Air” or experienced the rocks and water tumbling in “Eroding.”)  The compositions crossed one genre line after another from jazz to blues to where-did-that-come-from to harmony to discord, from noise to barely perceptible whispers, from expected to totally amazing.  These talented musicians also managed to express humor and pathos with their varied instruments; it was apparent they richly enjoyed what they were creating. 

The compositions crossed one genre line after another from jazz to blues to where-did-that-come-from to harmony to discord, from noise to barely perceptible whispers, from expected to totally amazing.

You may have observed there was very little in the way of sheet music in front of these guys and only after hours and hours of practice and trust in one another can a group improvise in the way they did.  Not that everything they performed was improvisation – far from it – but there were definite areas of pure “winging.”  I guess that’s the blackbird in this group. Returning to the expected (but, of course, also performed with the expected perfection), the last concert of our season is the Finckel/Han/Setzer Trio, a true standard-bearer for classical trios.  Come hear this beautiful performance April 28 at Temple Beth-El, 3:15 p.m.  Remember, students and active duty military are admitted free. – E Doyle

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