Mission of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
The mission of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra is to present great music that enriches lives, inspires passion for period-instrument performance, connects audiences to history, preserves tradition, and celebrates creative genius. Using authentic instruments and stylistic performance practices of the baroque to early-romantic periods, the Orchestra engages audiences through performance, tours, education, community outreach, and recordings of the highest standard.
Philharmonia’s pursuit of its mission is based upon three fundamental convictions:
- Great music is universal. It is a timeless medium that impacts quality of life on an emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual level.
- Period-instrument performance, executed at the highest level, creates a distinct sound and singular listening experience. Historically-informed performance means more than playing music in the style in which it was written; it also means performing music with a passion, joy, and vitality that provide a meaningful contemporary artistic experience for today’s audience. In addition, this experience enriches appreciation of history and provides a valuable perspective in preserving and understanding the orchestral tradition.
- The opportunity for audiences today to hear great works and authentic instruments from the past is, in itself, a legacy that must be preserved for the benefit of future generations.
History of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra has been dedicated to historically-informed performance of Baroque, Classical and early-Romantic music on original instruments since its inception in 1981. Under Music Director Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque has been named Ensemble of the Year by Musical America.
The Orchestra performs an annual subscription series in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is regularly heard on tour in the United States and internationally. The Orchestra has its own professional chorus, the Philharmonia Chorale, directed by Bruce Lamott, and welcomes talented guest artists such as mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, countertenor David Daniels, conductor Jordi Savall, fortepianist Emmanuel Ax, conductor Masaaki Suzuki, and violinist Rachel Podger.
The Orchestra has had numerous successful collaborations with celebrated composers and choreographers. Philharmonia premiered its first commissioned work, a one-act opera by Jake Heggie entitled To Hell and Back, in November 2006. In collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Group, Philharmonia Baroque gave the U.S. premieres of Morris’s highly acclaimed productions of Henry Purcell’s King Arthur and Jean-Philippe Rameau’s ballet-opera Platée.
Among the most-recorded period-instrument orchestras in the United States or in Europe, Philharmonia Baroque has made thirty-four highly praised recordings – including its Gramophone award-winning recording of Handel’s Susanna – for harmonia mundi, Reference Recordings, and BMG.
In 2011, Philharmonia launched its own label, Philharmonia Baroque Productions, with an acclaimed recording of Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’été and Handel arias featuring mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. The second CD release, Haydn Symphonies No. 104 “London”, No. 88, No. 101 “The Clock,” has been nominated for a GRAMMY® Award for Best Orchestral Performance.
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra was founded by harpsichordist and early music pioneer Laurette Goldberg.
The Philharmonia Chorale
Critically acclaimed for its brilliant sound, robust energy, and sensitive delivery of the text, the Philharmonia Chorale was formed in 1995 to provide a vocal complement whose fluency in the stylistic language of the baroque period matched that of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. The 24 members of the Chorale are professional singers with distinguished solo and ensemble experience. Chorale members appear regularly with organizations such as the San Francisco Symphony, Carmel Bach Festival, and American Bach Soloists, are guest soloists with most of the area’s symphonic and choral organizations, appear in roles with regional opera companies, and have been members and founders of some of the country’s premier vocal ensembles, including Chanticleer, the Dale Warland Singers, and Theatre of Voices.
Founded by John Butt, a baroque keyboardist and one of the world’s leading Bach scholars, the Chorale has been led by conductor and musicologist Bruce Lamott since 1997. In its first decade, the Chorale’s repertoire included nine Handel oratorios, Bach’s St. John Passion and Christmas Oratorio, Mozart’s C minor Mass, and – in collaboration with other choral ensembles – Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. The Chorale made its New York debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1998, and appeared with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra at the new Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Orange County. The Chorale appears on the Orchestra’s recordings of Arne’s Alfred, Scarlatti’s Cecilian Vespers, and Beethoven’s Symphony No.9.
The Chorale Director is Bruce Lamott.
Bruce Lamott has been director of the Philharmonia Chorale for more than a decade. He first performed with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in 1989, as continuo harpsichordist for Handel’s Giustino.
Lamott was previously the Director of Choruses and Conductor of the Mission Candlelight Concerts at the Carmel Bach Festival, where his 30-year tenure also included performing as a harpsichordist and presenting as a lecturer and education director. In eight seasons as Choral Director and Assistant Conductor of the Sacramento Symphony, he conducted annual choral concerts of major works, including both Bach Passion settings and Haydn’s The Seasons, as well as preparing the chorus for most of the standard symphonic choral repertoire.
Lamott received a bachelor’s degree from Lewis and Clark College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Musicology from Stanford University, where he researched the keyboard improvisation practices of the baroque period. LaMott joined the Musicology faculty at U.C. Davis, where he directed the Early Music Ensemble. He currently resides in San Francisco, where he teaches Choral Music and Music History at San Francisco University High School, and is part-time professor of Music History at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Among his other music-related activities, Lamott also teaches continuo realization in the Merola Program of the San Francisco Opera and lectures for the San Francisco Opera Guild.