Apollo’s Fire features young local talent in upcoming Bach's Birthday performances

Apollo's Fire presents Part II of Bach's Birthday Party, "Family Frolic, a Multi-Generational Music Party" featuring Bach's most subversive and hilarious Coffee Cantata.

The staying power of Johann Sebastian Bach, the addictive properties of coffee, and the rebelliousness of teenage daughters are interwoven in Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra’s latest endeavor, Bach’s Birthday Party, Part II: Family Frolic – A Multi-Generational Music Party.

This musical romp, under the direction of Jeanette Sorrell, Apollo’s Fire’s artistic director, features emerging local musicians from Apollo’s Fire’s apprentice program performing alongside veteran artists, and samples everything the Bach family has to offer, including a semi-staged performance of Bach’s zany “Coffee Cantata.” 

Sorrell explained her concept of this piece: “We know from Bach family documents that ‘Lieschen’ was the nickname of one of Bach’s daughters . . . and she was the only of his daughters who got married. Bach indicated ‘Lieschen’ next to the soprano line of the Coffee Cantata. I’ve never seen any musicologists take note of this connection, but it seems clear to me that the role of ‘Lieschen’ was meant for his daughter. In the cantata, Lieschen keeps pestering her father to find her a husband. With an enormous church job and huge performing and composing responsibilities, Bach apparently didn’t have time to find husbands for most of his daughters, but he found one for Lieschen, because she wouldn’t give up. So I think the Coffee Cantata gives us a charming window into one of the important family dramas in the Bach household.”

Madeline Apple Healey, soprano—a Cleveland native and Apollo's Fire Young Artist, recently praised by The Washington Post for her “gorgeous singing” of Bach’s "B Mass in B Minor” at the Kennedy Center—takes center stage in the role of a rebellious teenage girl, Lieschen, who is determined to keep drinking coffee and equally determined to get Papa Bach to find her a husband.

Apollo’s Fire’s regular guest artist, baritone Jeffrey Strauss, plays the embattled Papa Bach, and Young Artist Corey Shotwell, tenor, plays Herr Zimmermann, the overworked owner of the Leipzig coffeehouse where this drama plays out.

The program will also feature Young Artists Augusta McKay-Lodge (violin), Cynthia Black (violin and viola) and Sarah Lynn (flute), all of whom have ties to the conservatories unique to this area—Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM), Oberlin College & Conservatory, and Case Western Reserve University. Musettes Anna Turner, a sixth-grader from Cleveland Heights, and Will Burleigh, an eighth-grader from Shaker Heights, join in as some of Bach’s younger children.

Since its founding in 2005, the Apollo’s Fire Musettes Ensemble has provided an opportunity for young local talent to perform with world-class professional musicians. Healey and McKay-Lodge performed with Apollo’s Fire as Musettes in the first Praetorius Christmas Vespers project in 2005, and Burleigh and Turner performed with Apollo's Fire in the same program in 2013.

Performances of Bach’s Birthday Party will take place on Thursday, Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at Mixon Hall on the CIM campus, and on Saturday, Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights. Additional performances will take place in Akron (Jan. 23) and Rocky River (Jan. 25). For ticket details and more information about the program and artists visit http://apollosfire.org/concerts/bachs-birthday-party-part-i-family-frolic/.

In keeping with the coffeehouse theme of the evening, the cast will join the audience after each performance for coffee and conversation. Refreshments are generously provided by Phoenix Coffee Company.

Sarah Blue

Sarah Blue is the marketing manager for Apollo's Fire. 

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Volume 8, Issue 2, Posted 10:16 AM, 01.13.2015