The American conductor and harpsichordist, Jeannette Sorrell, l was one of the youngest students ever accepted to the prestigious conducting courses of the Aspen (where she was a conducting fellow in 1990) and the Tanglewood music festivals. She studied conducting under Robert Spano, Roger Norrington and Leonard Bernstein, and harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt in Amsterdam and with Lisa Crawford. "She took the First Prize in the Baroque Music Competition in 1989 (a North American Competition for early music performers.) She won both First Prize and the Audience Choice Award in the 1991 Spivey International Harpsichord Competition, competing against over 70 harpsichordists from Europe, Japan, Israel, the USA, and the Soviet Union.
Upon receiving an Artist Diploma in harpsichord from Oberlin Conservatory in 1990, she was immediately invited to join the faculty of the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute, where she taught from 1990 to 1994. Her performance of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony with the Oberlin Conservatory Orchestra in 1990 was selected and broadcast by National Public Radio as one of the "outstanding performances of the year. As a recitalist she has performed throughout the USA as well as France and the Netherlands. Most recently she appeared as concerto soloist with the Ohio Chamber Orchestra at Severance Hall.
Jeannette Sorrell, critically acclaimed for her fresh and lively approach to baroque music, brings to the stage an unusual background as both orchestral conductor and early music performer. She founded Apollo's Fire - The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, in 1992. Since then, she and the ensemble have built one of the largest audiences of any Baroque orchestra in North America. She has led Apollo's Fire throughout North America, in sold-out concerts at London’s BBC Proms and London's Wigmore Hall, Madrid’s Royal Theatre (Teatro Real), the Grand Théâtre de l'Opéra in Bordeaux, the Aldeburgh Festival (UK), the Tangelwood Festival, Boston’s Early Music Festival, and the Aspen Music Festival, among others.
As a guest conductor, Jeannette Sorrell has worked with many of the leading American symphony orchestras. Her 1997 benefit performance of the W.A. Mozart's Requiem with members of the Cleveland Orchestra was met with a standing ovation and critical acclaim. Her debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 2013 as conductor and soloist in the complete Brandenburg Concertos (BWV 1046-1051) was met with standing ovations every night, and hailed as “an especially joyous occasion” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). She has also appeared as conductor or conductor/soloist with the New World Symphony (Miami), the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the Opera Theatre of St. Louis with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Handel and Haydn Society (Boston), the Omaha Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, Arizona Opera, and has appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra as guest keyboard artist. In 2014 she filled in for British conductor Richard Egarr on 5 days’ notice, leading the complete Brandenburg Concertos () and playing the harpsichord solo in Brandenburg No. 5, for the closing concert of the Houston Early Music Festival. In 2015 she returned to the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as conductor/soloist.
Jeannette Sorrell and Apollo's Fire have released 20 commercial CD's (Eclectra records and other labels), of which five have been bestsellers on the Billboard classical chart. Her recordings include the complete Brandenburg Concerti (BWV 1046-1051) and harpsichord Concerti of J.S. Bach (with Sorrell as harpsichord soloist and director), which was praised by the London Times as “a swaggering version… brilliantly played by Sorrell.” She has also released four discs of W.A. Mozart, and was hailed as “a near-perfect Mozartian” by Fanfare Record Magazine. Other recordings include Georg Frideric Handel's Messiah, the Monteverdi's Vespers, Noels and Carols from the Olde World, J.S. Bach's St. John Passion (BWV 245) (sung in English), and Monteverdi's L'Orfeo (sung in English). and three creative crossover projects: Come to the River - An Early American Gathering; Sacrum Mysterium - A Celtic Christmas Vespers; and most recently, Sugarloaf Mountain - An Appalachian Gathering, just released this summer. Her 1999 recording of Monteverdi's Vespers with Apollo's Fire was hailed as "a stunning achievement; far superior to William Christie's version and other recent versions" by Fanfare magazine. She has also been featured on numerous national and international broadcasts by National Public Radio, European Community Radio, and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Jeannette Sorrell is recognized internationally as a leading creative voice among the new generation of early-music conductors. She is the winner of the 1994 Erin Body Award, given annually to the outstanding young performer in early music. Together with Apollo's Fire, she is the recipient of the 1995 Noah Greenberg Award from the American Musicological Society, given for the outstanding scholarly and artistic projet. She was also the recipient of a prestigious National Merit Scholarship in 1982. She has been credited by the UK's BBC Music Magazine for forging “a vibrant, life-affirming approach to the re-making of early music… a seductive vision of musical authenticity.” She has attracted national attention and awards for creative programming. She holds an honorary doctorate from Case Western University, and two special awards from the National Endowment for the Arts for her work on early American music. Passionate about guiding the next generation of performers, Jeannette Sorrell has led many Baroque projects for students at Oberlin Conservatory.