Cleveland Heights' Apollo's Fire wins Grammy

The Grammy-winning album "Songs of Orpheus," featuring tenor Karim Sulayman.

On Feb. 10, Cleveland Heights-based Baroque ensemble Apollo's Fire won the Grammy award for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album for "Songs of Orpheus." The ensemble, under the artistic direction of Jeanette Sorrell, shares the award with tenor Karim Sulayman, the album's solo vocalist.

"Songs of Orpheus" uses the work of 17th-century Italian composers Monteverdi, Caccini, Landi and d'India to retell the story of Orpheus' journey to the underworld to recue his wife, Eurydice. Along with providing the instrumentation for these vocal pieces, the ensemble also performed sonatas by Castello and Cima on the recording.

Apollo's Fire has produced over 20 albums in its 27-year history thus far. This is its first Grammy

Sorrell expressed surprise about winning the award, noting, "The other nominees in our category had quite a bit of PR-power behind them, in addition to being compelling recordings. We were the new kid on the block in that world." 

Sorrell praised the album's recording producer, Shaker Heights resident Erica Brenner, whose work Sorrell called "brilliant." She also expressed thanks for all of the ensemble's Heights patrons, who she said have "nurtured and supported Apollo's Fire from our fledgling state till now."

"Though it's been exciting to play at Carnegie Hall, the BBC Proms, etc., what we always love most is the special spirit when we play for our home audience in the Heights—because it feels like family," said Sorrell.

Asked how the award might change the ensemble's trajectory, Sorrell replied, "We were plenty busy already, with lots of audience growth, and our touring has been going well. But perhaps the Grammy win will encourage new people to come and try an Apollo's Fire concert. We love bringing Baroque music to newcomers, even if they don't have much experience with classical music. The Grammy award signals that Apollo's Fire has broken through the glass ceiling that usually separates classical ensembles from the mainstream world. So I hope that plenty of newcomers everywhere will come and give it a try!"

Jessica Schantz

Jessica Schantz is the e-news manager at the Heights Observer and a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights. 

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Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 12:18 PM, 02.12.2019