Young Heights choristers sing in Apollo's Fire concerts

Young local choristers perform in Apollo's Fire's Christmas Vespers, Dec. 17-20.

Apollo's Fire, Cleveland’s world-class baroque orchestra, will once again feature young singers in its popular concert series, Christmas Vespers, Music of Michael Praetorius, Dec. 17–20.

This concert series features Musettes, a group of talented young choristers who accompany the professional musicians and singers in this production, named a “Live Event Pick for Christmas in North America” by BBC Music Magazine.

Each of the young choristers must audition, and some have earned solo parts. Seven of this year’s choristers are Cleveland Heights residents:

  • Hannah Gilson, soloist (Cleveland Heights High School sophomore)
  • Sophie Gilson, soloist (Cleveland Heights High School sophomore)
  • Sam Mitchell (Ruffing Montessori School, seventh-grader)
  • Cecilia Payne (Cleveland Heights High School junior)
  • Emma Quill, soloist (Cleveland Heights High School freshman)
  • Rowan Trammell (The Lyceum, seventh-grader)
  • Anna Turner, soloist (Roxboro Middle School, seventh-grader)

The other five Musettes are from Akron, Shaker Heights and South Euclid. Many of the young singers currently train under the direction of Rick Nelson, children’s and youth choir director at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Other Musettes train with Anne Wilson, director of music at Forest Hill Church, who also serves as Apollo’s Fire’s rehearsal pianist.

These concerts are dedicated to the memory of Nelson’s late wife, Beth Johanna Pearce Nelson (1955–2015), who coached and inspired many of the young singers who have performed in the Praetorius Christmas Vespers program since its inception 10 years ago.

Dr. Beth, as she was lovingly referred to by many of her students, devoted much of her musical career to working with young people.

This beloved holiday program weaves the extraordinary works of 17th-century composer Michael Praetorius into a Vespers service, complete with the splendor of brass, antiphonal choirs, lutes, strings and recorders. Children’s voices lead the forces in this haunting and joyous celebration of the Christ child. The Plain Dealer calls it, “Magnificent . . . a musical gift to treasure.”

Northeast Ohio performances include the following dates and venues: Thursday, Dec. 17 in Bath; Friday and Saturday, Dec. 18 and 19, at First Baptist Church in Shaker Heights; and Sunday, Dec. 20 in Rocky River. Ticket information is available here or visit

Andrea C. Turner

Andrea C. Turner is the Heights Observer e-news editor. She is the mother of one of the Musette soloists.

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Volume 9, Issue 1, Posted 10:35 AM, 12.15.2015