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Concerto Grosso in G major, Op. 6, No. 1

Peter Whelan conductor
Lauren Snouffer soprano
Aaron Sheehan tenor
Philharmonia Chorale,
     Valérie Sainte-Agathe chorale director

About This Concert

Originally conceived as a grand multimedia extravaganza—more theatrical spectacle than solely an opera—Handel’s Alceste is as lavish musically as it was meant to be visually. Sensual, alluring, and dramatic, it’s a hedonistic delight from start to finish and is accompanied here by one of the composer’s most popular orchestral works.


Bing Concert Hall, Stanford
7:30 PM
Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
7:30 PM
First Congregational Church, Berkeley
2:30 PM
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Peter Whelan

Olivier award-winner Peter Whelan is among the most dynamic and versatile exponents of historical performance of his generation, with a remarkable career as a conductor and director. He is Artistic Director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra as well as Curator for Early Music of Norwegian Wind Ensemble. Peter is an acclaimed solo artist with an extensive and award-winning discography as a solo bassoonist.

As conductor, Peter has a particular passion for exploring and championing neglected music from the Baroque and Classical eras. Recent engagements have included appearances with English Concert, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Beethoven Orchester Bonn, Netherlands Chamber Orchestre, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Lahti Symphony Orchestra, Oulu Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre de Chambre du Luxembourg.

The beginning of 22-23 season saw Peter conducting Vivaldi’s seldom performed ‘Bajazet’ with Irish National Opera. This production was met with outstanding reviews and the production won an Olivier Award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Opera’. In November/December he made his debut at San Francisco Opera, conducting Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. Other recent opera productions have included Marriage of Figaro, Magic Flute and Acis and Galatea with Irish National Opera and Handel’s Radamisto with English Touring Opera.

Orchestral highlights of the 23-24 season include Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque Soloists, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Dunedin Consort, la festa musicale, Meininger Hofkapelle and Kristiansand Symphony Orchestra. Peter returns to Irish National Opera to conduct a production of Vivaldi’s rarely performed ‘l’Olimpiade’ in May 2024.

As founding Artistic Director of Ensemble Marsyas, Peter has performed at Edinburgh International, Lammermuir, Göttingen Handel, Kilkenny Arts, Tetbury, Bath and Great Music in Irish Houses festivals. During their 2020 Wigmore Hall residency, The Telegraph described Ensemble Marsyas as “very possibly this country’s finest period group – led by Peter, they perform with wonderful élan, transmitting their total enjoyment”. Ensemble Marsyas has an impressive and award-winning discography with its disc of Barsanti being named Editor’s Choice in Gramophone Magazine in 2017 and “Recording of the Year” in MusicWeb International 2017, as well as reaching second place in the Official UK Specialist Classical Chart.

Peter’s artistic direction in live performance and the recording studio has been widely praised for its “rich insight, style and charisma” (Guardian), its “stylish verve” (BBC Music Magazine) and “phenomenally energetic direction” (Artsdesk). As a champion of early music, Peter represents “the very best of contemporary trends in bringing this music to life: flex and zest with tempi, lithe and vigorous … an incredible alertness to colors and moods summoned by the cut-and-thrust harmonic footwork of this music” (Operawire).


Lauren Snouffer

Recognized for her unique artistic curiosity in world-class performances spanning the music of Claudio Monteverdi and Johann Adolph Hasse through to Missy Mazzoli and Sir George Benjamin, American Lauren Snouffer is celebrated as one of the most versatile and respected sopranos on the international stage.

Lauren Snouffer celebrates two high profile operatic debuts this season: with the Royal Swedish Opera she creates the role of Justine in the world premiere of Mikael Karlsson and Royce Vavrek’s opera Melancholia based upon the powerful film by Lars von Trier, and she makes a Glyndebourne debut as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte.  A deeply admired guest of The Cleveland Orchestra, Lauren Snouffer returns to the stage of Severance Music Hall to join Daniel Harding for Mahler’s Fourth Symphony paired with Ces belles années, a new work by Besty Jolas, commissioned specifically as a companion piece to the Mahler symphony; the pairing of these works, as designed by the Franco-American composer, marks the North American premiere.  Highlights of the symphonic calendar also include a semi-staged concert performance of Sir George Benjamin’s Written on Skin with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the composer, Stravinsky’s cantata Les Noces with Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and the San Francisco Symphony, and Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem with the Houston Symphony led by Music Director Juraj Valčuha.  She also appears with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Dame Jane Glover in Handel’s Messiah and in Bach’s St. John Passion with the Seattle Symphony, under the baton of Nicholas McGegan. 

Lauren Snouffer’s 2022-23 season collaborations included Mahler’s Second Symphony with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra, John Adams’ El Niño with the Cleveland Orchestra and the composer on the podium, Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with James Conlon and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, 

Mozart’s Mass in c minor, K.427 with Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony, Handel’s Jephtha with Dame Jane Glover and Music of the Baroque, Handel’s Messiah with Maasaki Suzuki and the San Francisco Symphony, Bach’s Mass in G Major, BWV 236 with Bernard Labadie and the Handel & Haydn Society, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Jaap van Zweden and the New York Philharmonic, and Hans Abrahamsen’s Let me tell you with Alan Gilbert conducting the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester. 

Operatic performances of the season included Die Zauberflöte in a return engagement with the Opernhaus Zürich, Le nozze di Figaro with Houston Grand Opera, Il barbiere di Siviglia at Austin Opera, and debuts at Detroit Opera in Xerxes, and at Santa Fe Opera in Monteverdi’s Orfeo with a world premiere orchestration by Nico Muhly.

Her operatic performances on leading international stages have fortified the soprano’s place as one of the eminent interpreters of contemporary music; she created the title role in Stefan Wirth’s Girl with a Pearl Earring with Opernhaus Zürich and portrayed the lead role in Hans Abrahamsen’s The Snow Queen at Opera National du Rhin.  She assayed the title role of Berg’s Lulu in a new production at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago conducted by Pedro-Pablo Prudencio and directed by Mariame Clément, and returned to Houston Grand Opera for the world premieres of The Phoenix by composer Tarik O’Regan and librettist John Caird and The House Without a Christmas Tree by Ricky Ian Gordon and Royce Vavrek. 

Lauren Snouffer’s concert schedule has yielded marvelous results with many of the world’s most distinguished conductors and orchestras including performances with Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra, Rafaël Pichon and the Handel & Haydn Society, Cristian Măcelaru and the Rotterdam Philharmonic, Krzysztof Urbański and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Edo de Waart and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Markus Stenz and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Patrick Dupré Quigley and Seraphic Fire, and with Marin Alsop and the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo.

Past seasons include Houston Grand Opera performances of Dialogues des Carmélites in a production by Francesca Zambello and Le nozze di Figaro conducted by Harry Bicket in a production by Michael Grandage as well as presentations of Carousel, Show Boat, The Rape of Lucretia, and L’italiana in Algeri.  Additional highlights include Lyric Opera of Chicago performances of Rusalka, La clemenza di Tito, and a new production of Orphée et Eurydice directed and choreographed by John Neumeier under the baton of Harry Bicket; a Seattle Opera debut as La Comtesse Adèle in Rossini’s Le comte Ory conducted by Giacomo Sagripanti; Die Zauberflöte at Seattle Opera and at Lyric Opera of Kansas City; a new Christopher Alden production of Handel’s Aci, Galatea, e Polifemo with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under the baton of Nicholas McGegan; and Max Emanuel Cencic’s new production of Hasse’s Siroe at the Opéra Royal de Versailles, with additional performances in Budapest and Vienna. 

Closely associated with Sir George Benjamin’s Written on Skin, Lauren Snouffer has sung under the composer’s baton at the Tanglewood Festival of Contemporary Music, with the Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, and Opera Philadelphia.  She has performed Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre with the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, presented the world premiere of Andrew Norman’s A Trip to the Moon with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and joined Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic in the title role of HK Gruber’s Gloria – A Pig Tale in a production staged by Doug Fitch.

A Grammy Award-nominated artist, her impactful recording catalogue includes Hasse’s Siroe and Handel’s Ottone with George Petrou for Decca, Gottschalk’s Requiem for the Living with Vladimir Lande on Novona Records, Grantham’s La cancíon desesperada conducted by Craig Hella Johnson on Harmonia Mundi, and Feldman’s Rothko Chapel with Steven Schick for ECM.

An alumna of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Lauren Snouffer was graduated from Rice University and The Juilliard School.


Aaron Sheehan

Grammy Award winning tenor, Aaron Sheehan, recognized internationally as a leading interpreter of baroque repertoire, is equally at home on the concert platform and the opera stage, from medieval monody to twentieth century masterworks.

Aaron Sheehan made his professional operatic debut with the Boston Early Music Festival in the 2005 world premiere staging of Mattheson’s Boris Gudenow, winning praise from Opera News for his “sinous and supple” voice, and went on to further roles with BEMF in Lully’s Psyché, Charpentier’s Actéon, Monteverdi’s OrfeoIl ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, and L’incoronazione di Poppea, Steffani’s Orlando, Desmarest’s Circé, and Handel’s Acis and Galatea.

Sheehan appears on over 35 recordings, which include Handel’s “Acis & Galatea” with Boston Early Music Festival, Rameau’s “Le Temple de la Gloire” & Handel’s “Saul with Philharmonia Baroque, and Monteverdi’s “Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria” with Boston Baroque. He sang the title role in BEMF’s recording of Charpentier’s La Descente d’Orphée aux Enfers, which won Best Opera Recording at the 2015 Grammy Awards.

Aaron’s worldwide operatic and concert appearances include venues as diverse as the Royal Opera at Versailles, Tanglewood Festival, New Zealand Festival of the Arts, Lincoln Center, Concertgebouw, Kennedy Center, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Gran Teatro Nacional del Perú, Beethoven Festival Warsaw, Boston Symphony Hall, Musikfestspiele Postdam’s Sanssouci, Handel Halle Festival, and the early music festivals of Boston, San Francisco, and Vancouver.

Recent performances include Handel’s Messiah with Seattle Symphony, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the Armenian Philharmonic, Winterreise in recital at the Smithsonian Museum, Bach’s B minor Mass with American Bach Soloists. Solo performances with Handel & Haydn Society and Boston Baroque. The first Bach St. Matthew Passion in Peru with the National Symphony Orchestra of Peru. Featured performances and recordings with Pacific Music Works, Blue Heron Choir, Bach Collegium San Diego, and Paul Hillier’s Theater of Voices.

Raised in Minnesota, Aaron received his bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from Luther College and a master’s degree in historical vocal performance from Indiana University. He currently is on the voice faculty of Boston University.