Jeannette Sorrell


Jeannette Sorrell transcends mere historicism in her performances of this music. Her triumph Saturday night had fresh impulses and took risks.
— The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sorrell’s brilliance was stamped on every aspect of the performance...She must be one of the best conductors around in this repertoire.
— The Cleveland Plain Dealer
Sorrell’s contact with her players was so intimate, they seemed to breathe as one.
— The Cleveland Plain Dealer
An engaging conductor… Sorrell guided the players with a light but definitive touch, a thoroughly involved but efficient presence.
— The Grand Rapids Press
Sorrell led a revelatory performance, with impassioned singing and playing bringing Bach’s score to life with contemporary immediacy.
— Opera News
Monteverdi’s Orfeo was a triumph for Jeannette Sorrell, showing us new dimensions of her genius.
— The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Award-winning harpsichordist and conductor Jeannette Sorrell 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.” 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. 

In 2014-15 she will return to the Pittsburgh Symphony (after a much-acclaimed debut leading the Brandenburg Concertos in 2013) and will also make her debut with the New World Symphony in Miami.

Recent guest engagements include the Seattle Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Omaha Symphony, Alabama Symphony and Edmonton Symphony (Canada), the Handel & Haydn Society in Boston (conductor and harpsichord soloist), the Opera Theatre of St. Louis with the St. Louis Symphony (conductor), and the Grand Rapids Symphony (conductor and soloist); and the Cleveland Orchestra (guest keyboard artist).  In addition, Ms. Sorrell filled in for British conductor Richard Egarr on 5 days’ notice, leading the complete Brandenburg Concertos and playing the harpsichord solo in Brandenburg no. 5, for the closing concert of the Houston Early Music Festival in its inaugural year.

Internationally, Sorrell has led sold-out concerts at the Wigmore Hall in London, the Madrid Royal Theatre, the Grand Théâtre de l’Opéra in Bordeaux, and major halls in Lisbon, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and Boston on tour with Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra, of which she is the founder and Music Director.  She also led Apollo’s Fire in an 11-concert U.S. tour of the Monteverdi Vespers in 2011.  Prior tour engagements included the Aspen Music Festival, Library of Congress, the Chautauqua Institution, and the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival.

Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire record for the British label AVIE RECORDS, and have released 20 commercial CDs, of which four have been Top 10 bestsellers on the Billboard Classical chart.  Her recordings include the complete Brandenburg Concerti and harpsichord concerti (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 Magazine.  Billboard bestsellers include the Brandenburgs, the Monteverdi Vespers, and Sorrell’s two crossover/folk programs, “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 a two-time 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.

Passionate about guiding the next generation of performers, Ms. Sorrell has led many baroque projects for Oberlin Conservatory and the Cleveland Institute of Music.  She has also developed a highly successful Young Artist Apprentice Program to provide pre-professional training for talented period-instrument students under the auspices of Apollo’s Fire. 

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 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. She holds an Artist Diploma from Oberlin Conservatory, where upon graduation she was invited to join the faculty of the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute.

(May 2015. Please discard previously dated materials and contact before making any alterations or cuts.)