Weekender

Apollo’s Fire will return to Penn State with Christmas concert

Apollo’s Fire, The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, will be making its fifth appearance at Penn State on Thursday.
Apollo’s Fire, The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, will be making its fifth appearance at Penn State on Thursday. Photo provided

Apollo’s Fire, The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, will be making its fifth appearance at Penn State on Thursday, performing “Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain: A Celtic-Appalachian Celebration.”

“(The concert) starts out as an old Christmas Eve service in Ireland and by the end is a journey to an Appalachian meeting house in Virginia,” said Jeannette Sorrell, founder and artistic director of Apollo’s Fire.

Although the show is not theatrical, Sorrell said it does have an arc of a journey that evokes a story of Irish immigrants.

“There is drama in the music,” she said.

Apollo’s Fire, which was created 25 years ago, has always performed Baroque style music during previous visits to Penn State.

“This time it’s different,” said Sorrell.

According to Sorrell, this new show has been created and influenced out of Celtic and Appalachian folk tunes.

“A concert needs to take people on an emotional journey,” she said.

Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire have been playing folk music for the past 15 years in an old barn outside of Cleveland, Ohio.

“The barn inspires us to play rustic music,” Sorrell said.

To prepare for this new Christmas concert, Sorrell said that along with the regular composing and planning there was also a lot of research done. Sorrell looked through early Irish and medieval carols and Noels, and early American shape note hymns. The concert, which includes 11 instrumentalists, 16 choristers and two vocal soloists, will feature a number of unique instruments including wooden flutes, bagpipes, a hammered dulcimer and “some funky wind instruments,” said Sorrell, who plays the harpsichord.

“We began planning for their upcoming Penn State performance in summer 2016, and I’m excited to have them presenting this special holiday program that explores and illuminates the varied roots of Appalachian music,” said George Trudeau, director for the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State.

Apollo’s Fire first performed at Penn State in 2007.

“This is a different program for the ensemble from past visits, but I expect a combination of attendees, those who have heard the group in past visits and others drawn to the style of music and songs to be performed,” Trudeau said.

Laura Sullivan, director of marketing communications for the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State, agreed that new and old fans would enjoy the concert.

“They are truly a favorite of our audiences. This time around in particular, because of the accessibility of the content and the holiday connection, I am sure we will be welcoming new fans into the fold,” she said.

IF YOU GO

  • What: Apollo’s Fire’s “Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain: A Celtic-Appalachian Celebration”
  • When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
  • Where: Schwab Auditorium, University Park
  • Info: www.cpa.psu.edu
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