Under the musical direction of Nicholas McGegan for the past 30 years, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) is recognized as America’s leading historically informed ensemble. Using authentic instruments and stylistic conventions of the Baroque to early-Romantic periods, the orchestra engages audiences through its signature Bay Area series, national tours, recordings, commissions, and education projects of the highest standard. Founded in the San Francisco Bay Area 36 years ago, the ensemble is the largest of its kind in the United States and is known for its versatility in programming and joyful performances.
PBO’s musicians are among the best in the country and serve on the faculties of the Juilliard School and Harvard University, among others. The orchestra performs an annual subscription season in four venues throughout the Bay Area and has its own professional chorus, the Philharmonia Chorale. It regularly welcomes eminent guest artists including mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, countertenor David Daniels, mezzo-soprano Anne-Sofie von Otter, fortepianist Emanuel Ax, and maestro Richard Egarr, to name a few.
The orchestra enjoys numerous collaborations, including a regular partnership with the Mark Morris Dance Group. PBO gave the US premieres of Morris’ acclaimed productions of Purcell’s KingArthur and Rameau’s ballet-opera Platée. In April 2014, PBO gave the US premiere of MMDG’s Acis and Galatea at Cal Performances. It was reprised in August 2014 with three performances at the David Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center. PBO also returned to Tanglewood and the Mostly Mozart Festival that August to reprise its acclaimed 2013 production of Handel’s opera Teseo. The orchestra appears regularly at the Weill Concert Hall at the Green Music Center, the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Among the most recorded orchestras in the world, PBO boasts a discography of more than 40 recordings and launched its own label in 2011, on which it has released nine 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 just released a recording of its modern North American premiere of Alessandro Scarlatti’s La gloria di primavera, which coincided with a tour in May 2016. PBO comissioned its first work, a one-act opera titled To Hell and Back, by acclaimed composer Jake Heggie, in 2002. Audiences heard the world premiere of Red, Red Rose by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw at Walt Disney Concert Hall in May 2016. The piece was written for and was performed by mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter. This unique tour also included works by Handel, Purcell, and Arvo Pärt. The orchestra’s newly launched alternative concert series for younger and new audiences—SESSIONS—has regularly sold out since its inception in 2014.
PBO’s Education Program has been a leading force in early music education since 1989. Through partnerships with institutions such as The Juilliard School, Stanford University, Yale University, Harvard University, San Francisco Conservatory of music, and the University of California at Berkeley, the Orchestra inspires and helps train a new generation of young artists. Reaching over 4,000 students of all ages annually, the program has enriched the Bay Area’s cultural community through free public masterclasses, symposia, school residencies, community chamber music workshops, full Orchestra concerts for students and teachers, numerous lecture series for adults, and family concerts.
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra was founded by harpsichordist and early music pioneer Laurette Goldberg.