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Title - O Jerusalem! City of Three Faiths
Artist - Apollo’s Fire / Jeannette Sorrell

For those unaware, the crossroads of Christianity, Judaism and Islam create the backdrop to O! Jerusalem, a scintillating live recording by Apollo’s Fire that interweaves the lives and music of the peoples who have inhabited the “City on a Hill” since Biblical times.

Conceived and directed by Jeanette Sorrell, Grammy Award-winning founder of Apollo’s Fire, O! Jerusalem conjures a tour of the Old City’s four quarters – Christian, Jewish, Arab and Armenian – and the confluence of the communities’ sacred and secular music from 1200 – 1650.

This colorful and vibrant program – featuring musicians of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian backgrounds – premiered to packed audiences in New York City, Chicago, and the ensemble’s home base of Cleveland where this recording was captured live.

1. Ir me kero, Madre, a Yerushalayim (I want to go to Jerusalem, mother…) (4:12)
2. Kuando el Rey Nimrod (Avram Avinu) (2:42)
Jeffrey Strauss, baritone | Amanda Powell, soprano | Sorab Wadia, tenor Sephardic Medieval/traditional songs, arr. J. Sorrell

3. Taxim – Daphna Mor, ney (3:54)
Ir me quería yo por este caminico
Daphna Mor & Sorab Wadia, Hebrew narration | Amanda Powell, soprano Traditional/Medieval Sephardic, arr. J. Sorrell after Cantor Jalda Reblingr

4. Tzur mishelo achalnu (The Lord our Rock) (2:47)
Daphna Mor, vocals
Medieval Hebrew poem, arr. D. Mor & J. Sorrell

5. Nani Nani (Lullaby) (4:59)
Amanda Powell, soprano
Traditional Sephardic ballad, arr. J. Sorrell & A. Powell

6. A la Una yo nací (At One I was Born) (3:33)
Sorab Wadia, tenor | Ronnie Malley, accordion
Traditional Sephardic ballad, arr. J. Sorrell

7. Havun-Havun (2:52)
René Schiffer, cello | Sue Yelanjian, contrabass

8. Taxim – Ronnie Malley, oud (2:10)

9. Longha Farahfaza (2:45)
Traditional Arabic/Riad al Sunbati

10. Muslim Call to Prayer – Ronnie Malley & Rex Benincasa (1:05)

11. Sancta Maria succure miseris (2:52)
Medieval plainchant

12. Nigra sum sed Formosa (3:51)
Jacob Perry, tenor | William Simms, theorbo
Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643) – Vespers of 1610

13. Gloria Patri (2:23)
Jacob Perry, tenor | Nathan Hodgson, echo tenor
Claudio Monteverdi – Vespers of 1610

14. Taxim – Brian Kay, oud (4:34)
Tzur mishelo achalnu (The Lord our Rock)
Jeffrey Strauss, baritone | Sorab Wadia, tenor
Medieval Hebrew prayer, arr. J. Sorrellh

15. Ki eshmera Shabbat (If I Guard the Sabbath) (3:59)
Jeffrey Strauss, baritone
Medieval Sephardic liturgical chant, arr. J. Strauss/J. Sorrell/R. Schiffer

16. Longha Nahawand (5:11)
Improvisations by Tina Bergmann, hammered dulcimer and Emi Tanabe, violin
Traditional Arabic/Turkishk

17. Santa Maria, Strela do Dia (4:21)
Amanda Powell, soprano | Brian Kay, tenor
Cantiga #100 from the Cantigas de Santa Maria Codex, c. 1250, arr. J. Sorrell

Recorded live in concert at the Cleveland Museum of Art, March 11th, 2020 (although tracks 3, 5, 7-8, 10-13 were actually recorded live in concert at the Cleveland Institute of Music on November 17th, 2018), O Jerusalem! City of Three Faiths is a beautifully resonant, atmospheric and opulently charged recording of the highest order.

Opening chapter one (O JERUSALEM) on the mesmerizingly chanted Ir me kero, Madre, a Yerushalayim and the free-flowing, furtive orchestrations of Kuando el Rey Nimrod (Avram Avinu), chapter two (THE JEWISH QUARTER) continues onward with the almost ethereal Taxim – Daphna Mor, ney, the simply beautiful Tzur mishelo achalnu (with Daphna Mor on vocals), the traditional Sephardic lullaby Nani Nani (with Amanda Powell on vocals), and then comes the accordion-imbed A la Una yo nací.

The third chapter (THE ARAB & ARMENIAN QUARTERS) opens with the ornate dalliance of Havun-Havun and the gently fervent Taxim and follows those up seamlessly with the vibrancy of the traditional Longha Farahfaza.

Next up is the fourth chapter (MOSQUE, CATHEDRAL, & SYNAGOGUE) which first brings forth the traditional Muslim Call to Prayer, and then we get the choir-imbibed Sancta Maria succure miseris (a Medieval plainchant), which is in turn backed by the uplifting duo of Nigra sum sed Formosa and Gloria Patri, this chapter coming to a close on the cultured Taxim and the yearning of Ki eshmera Shabbat.

The fifth, and final chapter (NEIGHBORHOOD CELEBRATION), closes out the recording with the thoroughly entertaining and spirited Longha Nahawand and the magnificently orchestrated Santa Maria, Strela do Dia (with Amanda Powell as Soprano and Brian Kay as tenor).

O! Jerusalem follows in the footsteps of Sephardic Journey (AV2361), one of ten Apollo’s Fire releases to debut in Billboard’s Classical Chart Top 10.

APOLLO’S FIRE | on period instruments:
Jeffrey Strauss, baritone | Amanda Powell, soprano
Jacob Perry & Sorab Wadia, tenor

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