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I give. What’s a theorbo? For that matter, what’s a “serata?” Apollo’s Fire, a Knight Arts grantee, in its winter concert, “The Intimate Vivaldi,” is the place to find the answers.

Actually a theorbo is a plucked string instrument and belongs in the lute family, but had its origins apparently in the need for its bass range of notes to build operatic scores. And “serata” is an Italian word relating to evening hours, but in Apollo’s Fire’s context, it is a cozy, intimate evening with friends gathered around to listen to music and share the experience with one another.

Those two notions kind of sum up what this fabulous Baroque orchestra, which plays period instruments like the theorbo, has in store for Akron music lovers at the end of this month.

As artistic director Jeannette Sorrell put it, “I wanted to schedule something to warm the soul – an intimate evening evoking the kind of musical gathering of family and friends that you’d find in an 18th-century parlor” and add to that “a sense of celebrating life and friendship through music, which is so strong in the Italians, and in Vivaldi’s music.”

To pull it all off, Sorrell has put together famed lutenist Ronn McFarlane, who will co-direct the concert with regular AF violinist and audience favorite Olivier Brault. Other players are Johanna Novom on violin, Kristen Linfante on viola, Rene Schiffer on cello, and William Simms on theorbo and guitar.

Olivier Brault, violinist. Photo by Jackie Mathey

Olivier Brault, violinist. Photo by Jackie Mathey

 Musical offerings for the evening include the virtuosic music of Vivaldi in the “Concerto in D major for lute and strings,” his “Concerto in C for strings and continuo,” “Trio in G minor for violin and lute” and two triosonatas for lute and violin.

Dueling violinists pair with dueling theorbos in the music of Vivaldi’s Italian predecessors, Dario Castello (“Sonata concertata no. 10”) and Biagio Marini in an as-yet unannounced triosonata.

Johanna Novom, violinist. Photo by Jackie Mathey

Johanna Novom, violinist. Photo by Jackie Mathey

In the same vein, the Apollo’s Fire grouping will perform Giovanni Zamboni’s “Sonata no. 9 in C minor for Lute solo.” Focusing on the lute makes a bunch of sense since, it is reported, that by the end of the 18th century, more than 40,000 pieces had been written for this presumed “celestial instrument.”

Ronn McFarlane, lutenist. Photo by Jackie Mathey

Ronn McFarlane, lutenist. Photo by Jackie Mathey

“The Intimate Vivaldi” concert will kick off Apollo’s Fire’s new Fireside Series. In Sorrell’s words, “The musicians and I often chat about the music when we’re backstage, or during a coffee break.  These discussions can get pretty lively, and I thought it would be fun to bring the audience a bit more into our world, by enlarging the circle of the conversation.” And so they will.

Apollo’s Fire will present “The Intimate Vivaldi” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 31 at Fairlawn Lutheran Church, 3415 W. Market St., Akron; 216-320-0012; www.apollosfire.org. Tickets are $21 (free for students).

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