Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale Announces 2023-24 Season

The season invites audiences of all kinds to experience classical music in an explorative environment. 

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale Announces 2023-24 Season

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) announces its 2023/24 season, showcasing a wide range of repertoire, concert formats, and vanguard artists and composers.

While the season is rooted in the baroque, the ensemble-Orchestra and Chorale-invites audiences of all kinds to experience classical music in an explorative environment. PBO remains a vital force in the historically informed performance movement, reimagining historic works and illuminating brand new musical innovations.

Richard Egarr enters his fourth year as Music Director, presenting ambitious programs with today's foremost artists and rising stars from across the globe. In her second year as Chorale Director, Valérie Sainte-Agathe shines an even brighter spotlight on the vocal ensemble as an extraordinary leader of choral music in the Bay Area.

The 2023/24 season opens with Garden of Good & Evil-reprising the acclaimed UK performances of summer 2022 ("Soaring ambition and vividly projected Handel," praised The Guardian). The powerful program showcases the full gamut of Handel's oeuvre, featuring arias from Admeto, Giulio Cesare and Judas Maccabaeus, delivered with emotional clarity and verve by sensational British countertenor Tim Mead. At the heart of the program is a duo of compositions exploring the creation story by two of today's most powerful musical voices: composer Errollyn Wallen CBE and PBO's Composer In Residence Tarik O'Regan, set to text researched and adapted by singer and scholarReginald Mobley.

In a unique and first time experience, PBO presents two ways to experience the beloved story of Dido & Aeneas, offering both Purcell's original opera and a fully staged production-Dido's Ghost-a new opera composed by Errollyn Wallen CBE and directed by Frederic Wake-Walker, effectively providing a sequel to Purcell's masterpiece (which is performed in its entirety, as if a flashback, in Wallen's work). The libretto is written by Wesley Stace, the co-author of choreographer Mark Morris' memoir, Out Loud.

A master of the baroque and equally at home with the new, conductor John Butt joins PBO for these performances after conducting the premieres at London's Barbican and at Scotland's Edinburgh Festival in summer 2021 to critical acclaim. The all-star cast features sopranos Nicole Heaston and Nardus Williams, mezzo-soprano Allison Cook, and bass-baritone Matthew Brook. Dido's Ghost is a co-commission with Dunedin Consort, Edinburgh Festival, The Barbican, and Mahogany Opera. "An intoxicating cocktail...with the magnetic Matthew Brook as Aeneas, and stage director Frederic Wake-Walker, whose visual solutions to the flashback challenges are simple but ingenious." (The Scotsman, 2021).

The holiday season brings a full concert focusing on the Philharmonia Chorale, covering 600 years of music celebrating Christmas. From John Tavener's haunting "The Lamb," to motets by Sweelinck, to the rich melting harmonies of Rachmaninoff, the program displays many generations of vocal and instrumental techniques, adapting to each work with scholarship and spirit. The program also features a brand new commission by innovative British opera singer and composer Roderick Williams OBE, continuing PBO's commitment to the continuously morphing world of classical music and its successful commissioning program New Music for Old Instruments. The program began in 2015 and has spurred numerous new works, including a triple commission of works by Caroline Shaw, and works by Tarik O'Regan, Paul Stanhope, Errollyn Wallen, Aaron Jay Kernis, among others.

Music Director Richard Egarr and Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya return to the keyboard together following their popular virtual programs in 2020, but this time in the live space with Double Espresso-a keyboard program all about doubles: Bach's concertos for two harpsichords and music by Telemann scored for doubles of instruments. The program explores the role of the coffee house in the baroque era-a place for socializing and art.

Violin virtuoso Shunske Sato returns to PBO after his exhilarating performance of Schumann's violin concerto in 2021, this time with Mendelssohn's ever-popular violin concerto. The program of romantic era music contains a real rarity-Schumann's intense and emotional Requiem, a dramatic showcase for the rich, resonant sound of the Philharmonia Chorale. The Schumann Requiem is rarely performed and was originally scheduled to be performed by Philharmonia in 2021, but the pandemic stood in the way. Now Music Director Richard Egarr will finally perform this vital work.

Food and drink are key to fostering communities. In a brand new format, PBO will introduce in the 2023/24 season its Coffee & Cake Concerts, brightening the mornings of audiences across the Bay Area in new venues and neighborhoods, including San Francisco's Richmond District and in the South and East Bay. Kicking off the series, Richard Egarr will present a selection of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos in these fun, affordable, hour-long performances for audiences of all ages and backgrounds, followed by coffee and cake with Richard and the musicians.

Jews & Music (JAM) remains a central part of Philharmonia's offerings. In its 9th year, PBO will present a celebratory 400th anniversary performance of Salomone Rossi's Songs of Solomon. Featuring select musicians from the Chorale, JAM Scholar in Residence Francesco Spagnolo explores the role of this major work of Jewish art which marries Hebrew text with early baroque musical style.

Continuing his role of Creative Partner, Davóne Tines bolsters PBO's education programs with a focus on high school music education. PBO's first ever Conducting Fellow/Assistant Conductor David Belkovski enters his second year working with Richard Egarr, the Orchestra and Chorale, in the rehearsal process and performances throughout the season. Composer in Residence Tarik O'Regan unveils new commissions and partnerships, to be announced soon.

The 2023-24 Season

Garden of Good and Evil
Wednesday, October 18 7:30pm, Bing Concert Hall, Stanford
Thursday, October 19 7:30 pm, Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Friday, October 20 7:30 pm, First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Saturday, October 21 2:30pm & 7:30pm, First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Dido's Ghost
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Wednesday, November 29, 7:30pm
Thursday, November 30, 7:30pm

Dido & Aeneas
First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Saturday, December 2, 2:30pm & 7:30pm

Jews & Music: Songs of Solomon
The Green Room (Veteran's Building), San Francisco
Monday, December 4, 7:30pm

Six Centuries of Christmas
Thursday, December 7, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Friday, December 8, 7:30pm, Bing Concert Hall, Stanford
Friday, December 9, 2:30pm & 7:30pm, First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Double Espresso
Thursday, February 1, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Friday, February 2, 7:30pm, First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto
Saturday, February 3, 2:30pm & 7:30pm, First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Coffee & Cake
Wednesday, March 6, 11am, Piedmont Community Hall, Piedmont
Thursday, March 7, 11am, Congregation Beth Sholom, San Francisco
Friday, March 8, 11am, Oshman Family JCC, Palo Alto

Romantic Radiance
Thursday, April 11, 7:30pm, Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Friday, April 12, 7:30pm, Bing Concert Hall, Stanford
Saturday, April 13, 2:30pm & 7:30pm, First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Under the musical direction of Richard Egarr since 2020, Philharmonia is recognized as "America's leading historically informed ensemble" (The New York Times). Using authentic instruments and stylistic conventions from early Baroque to late Romantic periods as well as commissioned new works, the orchestra engages audiences through its signature Bay Area series, national tours, recordings, commissions, and education projects of the highest caliber. Founded 41 years ago by Laurette Goldberg and led by Nicholas McGegan for 35 years, the ensemble is the largest of its kind in the United States. The award-winning Philharmonia Chorale is critically acclaimed for its brilliant sound and robust energy. In 2022, Philharmonia named Valérie Sainte-Agathe as its new Chorale Director.

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. PBO welcomes eminent guest artists including mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie Von Otter and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, and enjoys longstanding relationships with preeminent artistic collaborators including Mark Morris Dance Group, The Juilliard School, and the American Modern Opera Company (AMOC).

Among the most recorded orchestras in the world, PBO boasts a discography of nearly 50 recordings, including a GRAMMY-nominated recording of Haydn symphonies. 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.


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