Sugarloaf Mountain meets Cain Park on June 20
Apollo’s Fire, the Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, returns to Cain Park on Saturday, June 20, at 8 p.m.
Apollo’s Fire made its debut at Cain Park five years ago with its first Appalachian program, Come to the River. Music Director Jeannette Sorrell took a bold risk in bringing her period-instrument ensemble to an outdoor venue. But the Plain Dealer commented on the successful sense of “intimacy” that Apollo’s Fire created at Cain Park. As the more-than-1,000 concertgoers observed that night, this concert sounded fine without the usual level of amplification often required at outdoor venues like Cain Park.
Come to the River soon became a Billboard Classical Top-10 CD. It was hailed by The American Record Guide as “one of the most joyous releases, intoxicated by the sheer joy of being alive.” The Plain Dealer wrote, “A fascinating journey . . . which a sold-out audience savored. The theatrical aspects are so charmingly realized that you can’t help but wonder if a sequel is in store.”
Now the orchestra presents Sorrell’s second Appalachian program, Sugarloaf Mountain: An Appalachian Gathering. “I wanted to go more deeply into the repertoire and its historical roots,” Sorrell said, “and more deeply into the Appalachian psyche.”
Sorrell, a Cleveland Heights resident who spent her formative years in Shenandoah, Va., contemplated this new program for two years, researching the British Isles repertoire that took root in Appalachia. “This time around, I had the foundation of everything I had learned about this music and this type of programming, and I’ve built on that,” Sorrell said. “I feel I’m starting from a deeper place. And I’m thrilled about the fantastic colleagues who will be performing.”
Through music, song, and a bit of storytelling by vocalists Amanda Powell and Ross Hauck, Sugarloaf Mountain explores the joys and sorrows of daily life among the early settlers in Appalachia. “The rich repertoire of renaissance English and Scottish ballads took on its own life in Appalachia during the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries," Sorrell said. "As the old songs came across the water, they evolved into versions which reflected the Appalachian experience. Likewise, the lively fiddle tunes of the British Isles appear in Appalachian sources in differing versions. And then, these people encountered the African slaves and their spirituals. I think at that point, when the British Isles music met the influence of the spirituals, Appalachian music came fully into its own as a unique and distinctive repertoire.”
Also bringing these stories to life will be soloists Tina Bergmann on hammered dulcimer, famously called by folk singer Pete Seeger “the best dulcimer player I’ve heard in my life,” and Susanna Perry Gilmore on fiddle, who studied violin performance at Oxford University in England, while also playing Celtic folk music in pubs with traditional Irish musicians. The program features Kathie Stewart on wooden flutes and René Schiffer on cello, as well Brian Kay on lute, guitar and banjo.
Sugarloaf Mountain has just been recorded on the British label AVIE, and the CD release will be celebrated at a party after the concert at Cain Park, with special pricing. For tickets—$38, $28 and $18, $10 for students—call 216-320-0012, ext. 1; or 216-371-3000.
Margi Griebling-Haigh is a freelance composer, oboist, and Chairman of the Cleveland Composers Guild residing in Cleveland Heights.