“Playing with lucid and liquid technique, interpretive verve, and rhythmic acuity, the soloist/conductor steered the way with authority and allure…Egarr can make the harpsichord sing sweetly and growl, fret, muse, and even thunder a little. PBO audiences are getting a keyboard master in their new music director.”
San Francisco Classical Voice
“Their sound was fluent and luxurious, distinct, precise, the brass bold and bright, the recorder delicate, the strings and harpsichord a filigree of exactness and sweetness. Together with the singers they created a tapestry of beauty that unfurled like waves. Full and plentiful, luxurious, powerful, the production shone with splendor. Yes, that is the only word for it: Splendid.”
“Sato, Egarr and the orchestra demonstrated how much we miss by not encountering the piece more regularly…Certainly Sato made a persuasive case for the work, shaping the broad paragraphs of the opening movement with a sure hand and tearing through the virtuosic passagework of the finale without missing a step.”
San Francisco Chronicle
“The orchestra broke from the gate in full stride, the new jockey riding just as buoyantly as the old one in a concert featuring two exhilarating Robert Schumann works, the Violin Concerto and the Second Symphony.”
SF Classical Voice
Under the musical direction of Richard Egarr in his second season as Music Director, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) is recognized as “America’s leading historically informed ensemble” (The New York Times). Considered the most versatile ensemble of its kind, and performing on period instruments, PBO presents repertoire ranging from early Baroque to late Romantic, as well as new works and major operatic productions. The ensemble engages audiences through its signature Bay Area series, national and international tours, recordings, commissions, and education programs. Having celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, PBO was founded by Laurette Goldberg and led by Music Director Laureate Nicholas McGegan for the past 35 years. Philharmonia is the largest ensemble of its kind in the United States.
PBO’s musicians are leaders in historical performance and serve on the faculties of The Juilliard School, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Harvard, and Stanford. It welcomes eminent guest artists including mezzo-sopranos Susan Graham and Anne Sofie von Otter, countertenors Anthony Roth Costanzo and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, violoncellist Steven Isserlis, and maestros Jonathan Cohen and Jeannette Sorrell. PBO enjoys longstanding artistic collaborations with The Juilliard School, the Mark Morris Dance Group, and the American Modern Opera Company (AMOC), and appears regularly at Disney Hall, Lincoln Center, Norfolk Chamber Festival and Tanglewood. In collaboration with Cal Performances in 2017, PBO produced a fully-staged period opera, Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire, and produced a fully-staged, reimagined production of Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo directed by Christopher Alden and featuring countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, bass-baritone Davóne Tines, and soprano Lauren Snouffer in eight sold out performances in January 2020. “Aci” was named Best Operatic Performance in the Bay Area by San Francisco Classical Voice in 2020. PBO also co-produced “Aci” with National Sawdust in Brooklyn, Cath Brittan and Anthony Roth Costanzo in 2017.
Among the most recorded orchestras in the world, PBO boasts a discography of nearly 50 recordings, including a coveted archival performance of mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in Berlioz’s Les Nuits D’été, and a GRAMMY®-nominated recording of Haydn symphonies. The orchestra released the world premiere recording of the original version of Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire with the unedited libretto by Voltaire in 2018. In 2020, PBO released three groundbreaking recordings: a full collection of commissioned works by Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw, a selection of arias sung by rising star contralto Avery Amereau, and Handel’s Saul with countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen. Philharmonia was the first orchestra in the San Francisco Bay Area to commission Caroline Shaw. Shaw wrote three works for Anne Sofie von Otter and the Orchestra, as well as a major choral work. The first work premiered at LA’s Disney Hall; the third at Lincoln Center.
The award-winning Philharmonia Chorale is critically acclaimed for its brilliant sound, robust energy, and sensitive delivery of the text. Formed in 1995, the Chorale provides a vocal complement whose fluency in the stylistic language of the baroque period matched that of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Founded by John Butt, a baroque keyboardist and one of the world’s leading Bach scholars, the Chorale was led by Bruce Lamott from 1997 to 2020. In 2019, Handel’s Saul was named Best of the Bay’s “Best Choral Performance” by San Francisco Classical Voice.
Philharmonia is the only major orchestra in the United States with a permanent initiative dedicated to Jews & Music. The organization launched one of the most successful alternative concert series in the country, “SESSIONS”, in 2015 with fully sold out performances, and launched “In the Office” in 2019 in partnership with the advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
During the pandemic, the organization has presented more than 100 virtual programs, including the popular Live from Amsterdam with Music Director Richard Egarr, and “What’s New and H.I.P.” with Tarik O’Regan and Richard Egarr, focused on notions surrounding new music.
Uniquely focused on both the baroque and the brand new, Philharmonia announced in 2021 two unprecedented residencies: Tarik O’Regan as the organization’s first-ever Composer in Residence, and Davóne Tines as the organization’s first Creative Partner. O’Regan works closely with Music Director Richard Egarr, the Orchestra, Chorale, and staff, composing new works and establishing immersive relationships within the larger PBO community. As Creative Partner, Tines engages with all levels of the organization to explore the role of a major historically-informed ensemble in the 21st century.