Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale Appoints Tarik O'Regan First Composer-in-Residence

Tarik O'Regan is one of the leading British composers of his generation.

By: Mar. 09, 2021
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Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale Appoints Tarik O'Regan First Composer-in-Residence

Uniquely focused on both the baroque and the brand new, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) announces the appointment of TARIK O'REGAN as the 40-year old organization's first-ever Composer-in-Residence.

In his three-and-a-half-year residency, O'Regan will work closely with Music Director Richard Egarr, the Orchestra, Chorale, and staff, composing new works and establishing immersive relationships within the larger PBO community. This marks the first of two exciting and unprecedented PBO residencies this season.

One of the most played, commissioned, and recorded British-American composers of his generation, Tarik O'Regan's prolific output reflects his love of Renaissance vocal writing (his choral works are especially renowned) and the music of North Africa (his family is from Morocco and Algeria). The Washington Post describes his music as "exquisite and delicate," while The Philadelphia Inquirer says it evokes "previously unheard sound worlds with astonishing effect." Before his composing career took off, he was a classical recordings reviewer for The Observer (1999-2003).

O'Regan's vision for his PBO residency emphasizes a more seamless integration between old and new music, and builds upon the institution's reputation as an incubator for exciting new work. The residency will include three large-scale commissions of O'Regan's own works: a concerto for oud and orchestra, a major operatic production, and a new work for the Philharmonia Chorale.

O'Regan also plans to launch a short-form commissioning program, sourcing 10-20 works of five minutes or less, that will kickstart the availability of new repertoire for PBO and other historical performance ensembles. Additionally, O'Regan aims to start a composition competition, with the winner receiving a paid commission from PBO; a live workshopping program for composers to develop their ideas; and a dedicated ensemble for contemporary music within PBO, with the ultimate goal of unifying the historic and contemporary perspectives.

The genesis for the residency was a serendipitous meeting in February 2020 backstage at Stanford's Bing Concert Hall between O'Regan, then a Visiting Artist at Stanford, and Egarr, who was guest conducting a PBO subscription concert, and Courtney Beck, PBO's Executive Director. Clear parallels emerged between O'Regan and Egarr in their philosophies on historical performance and new music. Almost immediately, they began hatching plans for future collaboration.

About the residency, O'Regan says:
"I'm thrilled to build upon the flourishing work already underway at PBO. The organization feels like an instantly natural and welcoming home in which to house these various ideas about integrating composition with performance, programming, education, and storytelling. In Richard I've found not just a phenomenal artist in his own right, but a wonderful forward-thinking partner with whom to explore how history and the present day are always in conversation. Ultimately our interest in nuancing definitions of 'old' and 'new' is driven by our love of live music in all its varied guises, and our desire to share it with, and to discover more from, our broadest possible community." Read his interview with Joshua Kosman in today's San Francisco Chronicle.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the launch of a full slate of virtual offerings provided one such collaborative opportunity. A cornerstone of PBO's virtual 20/21 season has been the talk show "What's New and H.I.P. with Tarik and Rick," featuring conversations between Egarr and O'Regan on new music, its place in the historical performance canon, and challenging dominant perspectives. The show, which includes interviews with prominent composers, critics, and tastemakers in the field, will continue as a platform for exploration during O'Regan's residency. Recent guests include composer Errolynn Wallen (watch here) and composer/baritone Roderick Williams (watch here). The next installment will take place March 17 at 11:00 AM (PT), with Tarik talking about his new residency.

Egarr says, "Collaborating with Tarik on the online talk show 'What's new and HIP' has been a bright spot during my surreal pandemic debut season. I'm thrilled that Tarik will be joining the PBO family as composer-in-residence for the next several years, and I'm greatly looking forward to working with him to create enduring new works for this phenomenal ensemble. Tarik gets that there's a place for new music that doesn't feel like a forced march, but rather an extension of what all the old music has taught us."

"Welcoming Tarik as our first-ever composer-in-residence feels like a natural extension of PBO's creative legacy over the past several seasons and the next steps in PBO's New Music for Old Instruments initiative that began in 2015. While we've had longstanding and fruitful creative partnerships with composers like Caroline Shaw, Tarik's role will extend far beyond the traditional commissioning process-engaging on a deeper level with Richard Egarr, the Orchestra, Chorale, and PBO staff, and of course, our audience. Tarik's philosophies on historical performance and new music-and the intersections between the two-align exactly with PBO's, and as we begin to look to the future and a long-awaited return to live performances, we couldn't ask for a better artistic partner than Tarik," says Executive Director Courtney Beck.

Tarik O'Regan is "one of the leading British composers of his generation" (Gramophone) who writes "music of startling beauty" (The Observer). 2020/21 sees the release of three albums of O'Regan's compositions: Pentatone brings out Houston Grand Opera's production of The Phoenix, in which Thomas Hampson and Luca Pisaroni both interpret the role of Lorenzo Da Ponte; on Naxos, Chamber Choir Ireland and the Irish Chamber Orchestra perform A Letter of Rights, a large-scale collaboration with Alice Goodman which meditates on the civil rights enshrined in Magna Carta; and All Things Common is a portrait album by Pacific Chorale on the Yarlung label. He is currently working on a saxophone concerto, which has been commissioned for soloist Amy Dickson by the Presteigne Festival to be premiered in 2022.

O'Regan has worked with a breadth of ensembles and organizations, including the Dutch National Ballet, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Australian Chamber Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Sydney Dance Company, BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, and the Royal Opera House in London. His music has been described as "exquisite and delicate" (The Washington Post); "beautifully imagined, holding the audience rapt" (The Financial Times); "sublime: a piece that you didn't want to end" (The Times, London); and generating "previously unheard sound worlds with astonishing effect" (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

Recorded on over 40 albums and published exclusively by Novello, his work has received many recognitions: two GRAMMY nominations (including Best Classical Album,) and both New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer Best Classical Releases of the Year for Threshold of Night; the NEA Artistic Excellence Award and a South Bank Sky Arts Award nomination for Heart of Darkness; a Gramophone Award nomination for Scattered Rhymes; two British Composer Awards; Time Out London (Top Five Concerts of the Year), WQXR/Q2 (CD of the Week) and WNYC (Pick of the Week).

Tarik O'Regan was born in London in 1978. He grew up predominantly in Croydon, South London, spending some of his childhood in Morocco, where his mother was born, and in Algeria. Following the completion of his undergraduate studies at Pembroke College, Oxford, and private study with Jeremy Dale Roberts, he began serving as a classical recordings reviewer for The Observer newspaper, a position he held for four years. During part of this time, he also worked for investment bank JPMorgan Chase. O'Regan then continued his postgraduate studies in composition under the direction of both Robin Holloway at Cambridge University, where he was appointed Composer-in-Residence at Corpus Christi College, and Robert Saxton.

O'Regan has been appointed to the Fulbright Chester Schirmer Fellowship at Columbia University; a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard; and positions at Trinity and Corpus Christi Colleges in Cambridge, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Yale. He has served on the composition faculty of Rutgers University, and as Senior Advisor to the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University. A frequent television and radio broadcaster, O'Regan has written and presented two documentaries for BBC Radio 4: Composing LA and Composing New York. In 2017, he was elected to an Honorary Fellowship of Pembroke College, Oxford and to the board of Yaddo, one of the oldest artist communities in the USA. O'Regan currently holds the positions of Visiting Artist at Stanford University and Composer-in-Residence with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale.


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