THE Ulster-Scots Agency is delighted to sponsor one of the USA’s most dynamic period-instrument ensembles Apollo’s Fire as they make their Ballymena debut this summer.
Led by founding Artistic Director and harpsichordist Jeannette Sorrell, the ensemble will present its popular crossover program titled “Sugarloaf Mountain: An Appalachian Gathering.”
The program explores the Scotch-Irish roots of American music from the Appalachian Mountains – a region in the Eastern U.S. that was settled primarily by Scotch-Irish immigrants.
Sugarloaf Mountain takes its title from the mountain of that name that exists on both sides of the Atlantic – in Scotland, Ireland, and in Maryland near the Appalachian trail.
Creator/director Jeannette Sorrell and her colleagues traverse the joys and sorrows of daily life among the early settlers in Appalachia – following the journeys of the impoverished Irish and Scottish immigrants who crossed the Atlantic and settled in the mountains to build new lives.
At the same time, the program explores the evolution of Appalachian music, from its Scotch-Irish roots to its later Southern American and African-American influences. Passing through love and loss, dancing and prayer, the music overflows in celebration as the people of the mountains raise their voices.
Jeanette Sorrell said: “The rich repertoire of renaissance English and Scottish ballads took on its own life in Appalachia during the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries.
"As the old songs came across the water, they evolved into different versions reflecting the Appalachian psyche and experience.
"Likewise, the lively fiddle tunes of the British Isles appear in Appalachian sources in differing versions. And then, these people encountered the African slaves and their spirituals.
"I think at that point, when the British Isles music met the influence of the spirituals, that’s when Appalachian music came fully into its own as a unique and distinctive repertoire.
"We are delighted to bring this program to Ireland and the UK, where the music is rooted. I think British and Irish audiences will be fascinated to hear how their traditional music has evolved in new ways after crossing the pond.”
They will play on August 18 in the Braid Arts Centre.