Apollo's Fire presents Two Holiday Programs

Featured Audio

Nell Snaidas (soprano) and Karim Sulayman (tenor) visited WCLV to talk about Apollo's Fire's two holiday programs this season. 


Sacrum Mysterium   (Sacred Mystery) 


December 9-13, 2015

STEVE PLAYER, dancer/ guitar | JEFFREY STRAUSS, baritone


and ENSEMBLE LA NEF of Montréal - Sylvain Bergeron, artistic director


Christmas Vespers    


December 17-20, 2015






Sacrum Mysterium – A Celtic Christmas:

Back by popular demand for its fifth production run, with the CD/DVD debuting at #11 on the Billboard Classical Chart in 2012, this groundbreaking program from Jeannette Sorrell and Sylvain Bergeron celebrates Celtic artistic traditions, interweaving 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.

“A grand holiday stew made from deliciously blended sacred and secular ingredients… Sorrell’s brainstorm embraces Celtic sources rooted both in church and countryside…From utter simplicity to heartfelt passion… Apollo’s Fire and La Nef weave elegant international virtuosity into a series of glistening and rambunctious musical fabrics.”

                                                                                                    –The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Chosen as BBC Music Magazine’s Live Event Pick for Christmas in North America last year, the program returns to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for a second year in a row. Don’t miss TWO CLEVELAND AREA performances December 12 and 13! The program will also tour to Canton, Ohio December 9.

Featured guest artists are Apollo’s Fire favorites:  Canadian soprano Meredith Hall, who has long been immersed in Scottish/Gaelic repertoire; legendary British baroque guitarist/dancer Steve Player; and baritone Jeffrey Strauss. The program is an international collaboration between Apollo’s Fire and Ensemble La Nef of Montréal, directed by Sylvain Bergeron.  Bergeron serves as co-director of the Celtic project along with Sorrell.

BACKGROUND:  Sorrell originally conceived the idea for this program in 2009, following a visit to Montréal where she met Bergeron and heard his ensemble perform live.

“Meredith and Sylvain had already done a beautiful Scottish Christmas CD with the Gaelic title “Oikan ains Bethlehem,” Sorrell said. “I took that CD home with me after hearing their lovely concert in Montréal. The opening track seemed to be calling to me, wanting to be a procession in a cathedral. And from there, my imagination took over, and a program blending a Scottish medieval Vespers service with pagan/folk elements came into my head immediately.  So I called up Sylvain and Meredith and convinced them to plan this with me.”

Sorrell said the biggest challenge in bringing her idea to reality was the lack of surviving sacred renaissance and baroque music from Ireland and Scotland. “Because of the Reformation, what we would call artistic church music was banned in the Scottish and Irish churches during the 17th century,” she said.  “And it appears that probably many sacred works that had been composed in the generation before the Reformation were destroyed. So, I went back further, to the 13th-century Vespers of St. Kentigern, which is one of the few surviving major sacred works of Scotland prior to the 18th-century. St. Kentigern was the patron saint of Glasgow, and this Vespers was sung at Glasgow Cathedral.”

The instrumental ensemble includes 7 Apollo’s Fire musicians and 5 La Nef players, including bagpipes, Celtic harp, recorders, shawm, lute, guitar, dulcimer, strings and percussion.  In addition, Sorrell leads the renowned Apollo’s Singers – the 16-voice professional chamber chorus described as “breathtaking” and “one of the finest choirs of its kind in the country” (The Plain Dealer).

Repertoire includes medieval carols such as “Nowell Sing We”, “Lully, Lullay”, “O Come Emmanuel”, and “Noel Nouvelet,” as well as traditional Irish and Scottish fiddle tunes, and excerpts from the 13th century Vespers of St. Kentigern.

Local concerts are generously sponsored by: The Colleran Family Foundation

The participation of La Nef is made possible by support of: Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec.


Praetorius Christmas Vespers:

Now a beloved holiday tradition and an acclaimed CD recording, the Christmas Vespers program compiled by Jeannette Sorrell brings to life the extraordinary world of composer Michael Praetorius.  Premiered in December 2005 in five sold-out performances, these concerts were hailed as “a musical gift to treasure” (The Cleveland Plain Dealer). The cathedral resounds with the splendor of trumpets, sackbuts, virtuoso cornettos, antiphonal choirs, lutes, strings and recorders. Children’s voices lead the forces in this haunting and dramatic celebration of the Christ child.

Performance, Special Event & Ticket Information:

TICKETS starting at $26 are available through the Apollo’s Fire box office at

(216) 320-0012 or (800) 314-2535, or online at www.apollosfire.org.

Student, senior, young adult, and group discounts are available.

Student tickets are free in Akron made possible by the GAR Foundation.



AF presents an “Afterglow” (post-concert party) following the Saturday, December 12 (First Baptist Church, Shaker Hts.) and Sunday, December 13 (St. Noel Church, Willoughby Hills) performances of Sacrum Mysterium: A Celtic Christmas. A cash bar will serve hot cider and Irish Christmas Cake. Meet the musicians and learn to dance an Irish jig!

AF will present its popular FREE Pre-concert Talks one hour prior to each holiday concert. Join the large and lively crowd that attends! The speaker for the Sacrum Mysterium talks is Kathie Stewart (flute) and Sylvain Bergeron (Artistic Director of La Nef). Cellist René Schiffer will give the pre-concert talk prior to Christmas Vespers.



Sacrum Mysterium: A Celtic Christmas:

*Sat., Dec 12, 8:00 PM         First Baptist Church     3630 Fairmount Blvd, Shaker Hts., 44118

*Sun., Dec 13, 4:00 PM        St. Noel Church                       35200 Chardon Road, Willoughby Hills, 44094

 *Denotes an AFTERGLOW party

Christmas Vespers: Music of Michael Praetorius:

Thurs., Dec. 17, 7:30 PM      The Bath Church         3980 West Bath Road, Bath, 44333

Fri., Dec 18, 8:00 PM                       First Baptist Church     3630 Fairmount Blvd, Shaker Hts., 44118

Sat., Dec 19, 8:00 PM                       First Baptist Church     3630 Fairmount Blvd, Shaker Hts., 44118

Sun., Dec. 20, 4:00 PM         St. Christopher Church            20141 Detroit Road, Rocky River, 44116



In high demand for five seasons, Apollo’s Fire is pleased present Sacrum Mysterium: A Celtic Christmas on tour in Canton, OH and New York City, NY.

Wed., December 9, 7:00 PM   
Christ Presbyterian Church - Canton, Ohio
Tickets & Info: 330-456-8113 or www.cantoncpc.org/musicseries

Fri., December 11, 7:00 PM
Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York, New York
Tickets & Info: 212-570-3949 or

For a complete listing of AF’s upcoming tour performances, visit: www.apollosfire.org/touring/touring-engagements/

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