Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale is an orchestra based in San Francisco, which is dedicated to historically informed performance of Baroque, Classical and early Romantic music on original instruments. It was founded in 1981 by harpsichordist, teacher, and early music pioneer Laurette Goldberg (1932-2005). The ensemble added the Philharmonia Chorale in 1995. Its current Music Director is Nicholas McGegan, who has held that position since 1985.
Philharmonia performs a six-concert subscription season in three cities in the San Francisco Bay Area -- San Francisco, Berkeley, and Atherton/Palo Alto—and is regularly heard on tour in United States and internationally.
Music Director & Conductors
Long been hailed as “one of the finest baroque conductors of his generation” (The Independent) and “an expert in 18th-century style” (The New Yorker), Nicholas McGegan is recognized for his probing and revelatory explorations of music of all periods. In 2017 he begins his 32nd year as music director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale and continues as Principal Guest Conductor of the Pasadena Symphony and Artist in Association with Australia’s Adelaide Symphony.
McGegan’s itinerary includes regular engagements with major orchestras including the New York, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong Philharmonics; the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Toronto and Sydney Symphonies; the Cleveland and the Philadelphia Orchestras; and the Northern Sinfonia and Scottish Chamber Orchestra where his programs mingle Baroque with later works. Active in opera as well as the concert hall, McGegan was principal conductor of Sweden’s famed Drottningholm Theatre from 1993 to 1996, as well as Artistic Director of the International Handel Festival Göttingen for 20 years (1991 to 2011). He is also a frequent guest conductor at Covent Garden, San Francisco, Santa Fe and Washington opera companies. McGegan conducts four concert sets for PBO each season.
In addition, Philharmonia Baroque has welcomed eminent guest conductors to its podium including Richard Egarr, William Christie, Andrew Parrott, Jordi Savall, Gustav Leonhardt, Trevor Pinnock, Monica Huggett and Stanley Ritchie.
The Orchestra maintains a robust touring schedule, and appears regularly at the Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Tanglewood, Weill Concert Hall at the Green Music Center, and Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University. In 2005 Philharmonia debuted at the BBC Proms, Snape Maltings (UK) and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam as part of a European tour. In May 2016, PBO completed two North American multi-city tours, including debuts in Canada, followed by appearances at Tanglewood and Yale’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in August 2016.
The Orchestra enjoys numerous collaborations, including its most recent partnership with Cal Performances, Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, and New York Baroque Dance Company in the fully staged, modern-day premiere of Rameau's Le Temple de la Gloire in April 2017. PBO regularly partners with the Mark Morris Dance Group since 1990. PBO gave the U.S. premieres of Morris’ highly acclaimed productions of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas; Rameau's ballet-opera Platée; as well as Handel's L'Allegro and il Penseroso ed il Moderato.
Recordings & Radio Broadcasts
Among the most recorded orchestras in the world, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale boasts a discography of 40 recordings and launched its own label in 2011, Philharmonia Baroque Productions, on which it has released nine recordings, including a coveted archival recording of Berlioz’s "Les Nuits d’été" and Handel arias featuring mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson; a collection of three Haydn symphonies; and a recording of Vivaldi’s "The Four Seasons" plus three other violin concertos. Philharmonia has also made a number of recordings for Harmonia Mundi, Reference Recordings and BMG and released a self-produced 2-CD set of music of Alessandro Scarlatti on the Avie label.
The Orchestra is featured in a monthly live radio program on the second Sunday of each month on KDFC-FM in the Bay Area.
Honors and awards
- 2012 - GRAMMY nomination for Best Orchestral Performance (Haydn: Symphonies 104, 88 & 101)
- 2004 - "Ensemble of the Year" by Musical America.
- 1991 - Gramophone Award for Baroque Vocal (Handel: Susana)
- 1991 - GRAMMY nomination for Best Choral Performance (Other than Opera) (Handel: Susana)