Mission of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale’s mission is to present audiences throughout the world with historically-informed performances of music from the Baroque, Classical, and Early Romantic periods, as well as new music, using period instruments and vocal techniques that capture the style, spirit, and distinctive sound of that time. We share our music through live performances and recordings, and actively reach new audiences through our educational offerings and training programs for the next generation of musicians.
- 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 & Chorale
Under the musical direction of Nicholas McGegan for the past 32 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.
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.