The Cleveland baroque orchestra Apollo’s Fire brings a unique performance of J.S. Bach and his contemporaries to the Vilar Performing Arts Center on Thursday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. The program, titled “A Night at Bach’s Coffeehouse,” balances a pair of Bach’s beloved Brandenburg Concertos with works by three of the master composer’s contemporaries: Vivaldi, Telemann and Handel. Single tickets for the show are $58 for adults ($10 for students) and are available now at the VPAC box office (970-845-8497; www.vilarpac.org). The VPAC is located under the ice rink in Beaver Creek Village (68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek, Colorado).
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 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.
The program involves 16 performers: 7 violins, 2 violas, 2 cellos, 1 bass, 2 flutes, 1 theorbo and 1 harpsichord/conductor. Apollo’s Fire provides an explosive glimpse into early 18th century music and specializes in high energy concerts. It’s a perfect opportunity to hear how some compositional ideas of the era carry across national borders, while others are more specific to an individual composer.
Hailed as “one of the pre-eminent period-instrument ensembles” (The Independent, London), Apollo’s Fire made its London debut in 2010 in a sold-out concert at Wigmore Hall, with a BBC broadcast. Subsequent European tours took place in 2011, 2014, and 2015. European performances include 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 on the Birmingham International Series (UK) and the Tuscan Landscapes Festival (Italy).
The orchestra’s 2014 London 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.”
Apollo’s Fire has released 21 commercial CDs, and currently records for the British label AVIE. Since the ensemble’s introduction into the European CD market in 2010, the recordings have won rave reviews in the London press: “a swaggering version, brilliantly played” (The Times) and “the Midwest’s best-kept musical secret is finally reaching British ears” (The Independent). Five of the ensemble’s CD releases have become bestsellers on the classical Billboard chart: “The Monteverdi Vespers,” “Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos & Harpsichord Concertos,” and Jeannette Sorrell’s three crossover programs – “Come to the River – An Early American Gathering,” “Sacrum Mysterium- A Celtic Christmas Vespers” and “Sugarloaf Mountain – An Appalachian Gathering.”