Chatham Baroque Presents Apollo’s Fire: Violin Fantasy

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (February 2024)Chatham Baroque welcomes Grammy-award winning Baroque group, Apollo’s Fire, for their “Violin Fantasy” performance. The program, an album release concert, will be held on February 18th, 4PM, at Calvary Episcopal Church, the program explores the baroque traditional stylus phantasticus, which conveys mood through drama and mystery, while showcasing Heinrich Biber’s Mystery Sonatas.

Touted as the greatest violin composer of the 17th century, Biber’s Mystery Sonatas are contained in a manuscript dating back to 1676. The pieces tell a unique, emotional story that is enhanced by rhapsodic and virtuosic passages expressed as engravings at the start of each sonata. The engravings are recognizable as illustrations of the major life events of Jesus and The Virgin Mary.

The performance brings 5 of the sonatas to life. It begins with Sonata 1: “The Annunciation”, in which the Angel Gabriel’s proclamation that Mary will conceive and birth the son of God is shown through contrasting variations that convey the thoughts of Mary at the time. The program then moves into Sonata 4: “The Presentation”, which uses ground bass from start to finish, a common 17th-century musical technique. The program then highlights Sonata 10: “The Crucifixion”, a dramatic, evocative piece that showcases the emotions present as Jesus is nailed to the cross. The performance then draws on the Catholic Church’s Glorious Mysteries and showcases Sonata 12: “The Ascension” and Sonata 14: “The Assumption of Mary”, both of which are meant to express pure joy.

The performance also features complimentary pieces that showcase similar stylus phantasticus by Johann Heinrich Schmelzer and Johann Jakob Froberger.

“Violin Fantasy” celebrates the new CD album Apollo’s Fire will be releasing the week of February 18th. The CD will contain a similar style of stylus phantasticus Baroque music. The group will be available to sign CDs after the performance.

The performance features Apollo Fire’s Jeanette Sorrell (harpsichord, director), Alan Choo (violin), Rebecca Reed (cello), Billy Simms (plucks), Kivie Cahn-Lipman (lirone), Anna O’Connell (harp) as well as Chatham Baroque’s Andrew Fouts (violin).

Violinist Alan Choo, whose performances have been described by The Straits Times Singapore as “an intoxicating brew of poetry and dare-devilry,” performs on the global stage as a leading soloist, chamber musician and historical specialist. He made his solo debut with Apollo’s Fire at the Tanglewood and Ravinia Music Festivals in 2017. He then served as an Artistic Leadership Fellow under the guidance of Jeannette Sorrell for four years, before being named Concertmaster and Assistant Artistic Director for the ensemble in September 2022. He is also Founder and Artistic Director of Red Dot Baroque, Singapore’s first professional period ensemble, which is Ensemble-in-Residence at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.

Alan has performed as guest concertmaster and soloist with the Shanghai Camerata in China; and as soloist with the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Chinese Orchestra, Orchestra of the Music Makers, and more. He won 1st prize in the Singapore National Piano and Violin Competition in 2011. He has given masterclasses and lectures at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Michigan State University, and other colleges in the U.S. and Singapore. Alan holds a Doctorate in Historical Performance from Case Western Reserve University, as well as degrees from the Peabody Conservatory and the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory.

“I am deeply honored and excited to be able to champion Biber’s Mystery Sonatas with the brilliant musicians of Apollo’s Fire, who embody so many of the qualities needed to pull these pieces off,” said Choo. “Written in the 17th-century stylus phantasticus (“fantastical style”), these pieces require an innate sense for the drama and rhetoric in the music, as well as a free and improvisatory mode of delivery. We are excited to be able to give Pittsburgh audiences an exclusive preview of our upcoming CD album release of the complete Mystery Sonatas!”

GRAMMY-winning conductor Jeannette Sorrell is recognized internationally as one of today’s most compelling interpreters of Baroque and Classical repertoire. She is the subject of Oscar-winning director Allan Miller’s documentary, PLAYING WITH FIRE: Jeannette Sorrell and the Mysteries of Conducting, commercially released in 2023.

Bridging the period-instrument and symphonic worlds from a young age, she studied conducting under Leonard Bernstein, Roger Norrington and Robert Spano at the Tanglewood and Aspen music festivals; and studied harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam. She won First Prize in the Spivey International Harpsichord Competition, competing against over 70 harpsichordists from four continents.

As a guest conductor, Sorrell made her New York Philharmonic debut in 2021 and Philadelphia Orchestra debut in 2022, both to rave reviews. She has repeatedly conducted the Pittsburgh Symphony, St Paul Chamber Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Utah Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque in San Francisco, and New World Symphony; and has also led the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Opera St Louis with the St Louis Symphony, and the Calgary Philharmonic (Canada), among others.

In 2023-24, she returns to the New York Philharmonic, and makes debuts with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Houston Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, the National Arts Centre Chamber Orchestra (Ottawa), and the Orchestra of St Luke’s at Carnegie Hall.

As founder and conductor of Apollo’s Fire, she has led the renowned ensemble at London’s BBC Proms, Carnegie Hall, and many international venues. Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire have released 30 commercial CDs, including 12 bestsellers on the Billboard classical chart and a 2019 GRAMMY® winner. Her CD recordings of the Bach St John Passion and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons have been chosen as best in

the field by the Sunday Times of London (2020 and 2021). Her Monteverdi Vespers recording was chosen by BBC Music Magazine as one of “30 Must-Have Recordings for Our Lifetime” (2022).

With over 15 million views of her YouTube videos, Sorrell has attracted national attention and awards for creative programming. She received an honorary doctorate from Case Western Reserve University and an award from the American Musicological Society.

Tickets are on sale now for the performance. Early Bird Tickets sold at a discounted rate for general admission and seniors are available until Friday, February 2nd. On Saturday, February 3rd, patrons purchasing tickets will pay full price. More information about the performance can be found here:

About Chatham Baroque

Each year, Chatham Baroque presents a series of captivating, historically informed performances, drawing from a vast repertoire of classical music styles, eras, and locales from the Medieval Period through the early 19th Century.

As one of the country’s leading period instrument ensembles and early music presenters, each season features several concerts with the distinguished Chatham Baroque ensemble with artistic directors Andrew Fouts (violin), Patricia Halverson (viola da gamba), and Scott Pauley (theorbo and baroque guitar) as well as concerts by renowned touring ensembles specializing in music of the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, and early Classical period.

Chatham Baroque concerts are performed with period instruments, which are restored or replica versions from the time when the music was written. Concerts are held in a variety of settings across Pittsburgh from churches to concert halls, and performers actively engage audiences with lively commentary and insights into the music.  To learn more, please visit

About Apollo’s Fire

Named for the ancient god of music and the sun, Apollo’s Fire is a GRAMMY®-winning ensemble. Founded by award-winning harpsichordist and conductor Jeannette Sorrell, the period band is dedicated to the baroque ideal that music should evoke the various Affekts or passions in the listeners. The Apollo’s Fire musicians are creative artists who share Sorrell’s passion for drama and rhetoric.

Apollo’s Fire has performed six European tours, with sold-out concerts at the BBC Proms in London, Madrid’s Royal Theatre, Bordeaux’s Grand Théàtre de l’Opéra, St Martin-in-the-Fields, the Heidelberg Spring Festival, the National Concert Hall of Ireland, and venues in Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and Portugal. At home in Cleveland and Chicago, Apollo’s Fire enjoys sold-out performances at its series, which has drawn national attention for creative programming.

With over 14 million views of its YouTube videos, Apollo’s Fire has released 30 commercial CDs and won a GRAMMY® award in 2019.

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