Our Orchestra & Chorale

Under the musical direction of Richard Egarr in his inaugural season as Music Director, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale 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 new commissioned works, the orchestra engages audiences through its signature Bay Area series, national tours, recordings, commissions, and education projects of the highest standard. Founded 40 years ago by Laurette Goldberg and led by Music Director Laureate Nicholas McGegan for the past 35 years, the ensemble is the largest of its kind in the United States.

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. It welcomes eminent guest artists including mezzo-sopranos Susan Graham and Anne Sofie von Otter, countertenors Anthony Roth Costanzo and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, violoncellist Steven Isserlis, and maestros Jonathan Cohen and Jeannette Sorrell. PBO enjoys strong relationships with preeminent artistic collaborators including Mark Morris Dance Group, The Juilliard School, and the American Modern Opera Company (AMO). In collaboration with Cal Performances in 2017, PBO produced its first fully-staged opera, Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire, and produced a fully-staged, reimagined production of Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo with stage director Christopher Alden in January 2020.

Among the most recorded orchestras in the world, PBO boasts a discography of nearly 50 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 released the world premiere recording of the original version of Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire with the unedited libretto by Voltaire in 2018. In 2020 alone, PBO releases three groundbreaking recordings: a full collection of commissioned works by Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw, a selection of arias sung by rising star contralto Avery Amereau, and Handel’s Saul with countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen.

Under the superb direction of Bruce Lamott, the award-winning Philharmonia Chorale is critically acclaimed for its brilliant sound, robust energy, and sensitive delivery of the text. Formed in 1995, the Chorale provides a vocal complement whose fluency in the stylistic language of the baroque period matched that of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Founded by John Butt, a baroque keyboardist and one of the world’s leading Bach scholars, the Chorale has been led by Lamott since 1997. In 2019, Handel’s Saul was named Best of the Bay’s “Best Choral Performance” by San Francisco Classical Voice.

Bruce Lamott has been Director of the Philharmonia Chorale since 1997 and also serves as Philharmonia’s Scholar-in-Residence. He first performed with the Orchestra in 1989 as continuo harpsichordist for Handel’s Giustino. Bruce plays a leading role in the organization’s many educational programs for youth and adults. In addition to his lively pre-concert talks, Bruce writes PBO’s program notes and blogs, and gives lectures and demonstrations to groups throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

The orchestra, needless to say, was brilliant throughout, led by a full, rich string section, always the bedrock of this orchestra. The Chorale was superbly balanced throughout but with satisfying weight to the sound.

San Francisco Classical VoiceDecember 2019

The Philharmonia Chorale, directed by Bruce Lamott, dived headlong into the score’s rich harmonies, and the orchestra gave the music the necessary sparkle.

San Francisco ChronicleOctober 2019

Enhancing the performance immeasurably are the superbly proportioned, technically immaculate contributions of the Philharmonia Baroque and Philharmonia Chorale.

Opera NewsDecember 2019

To report that the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale gave a magnificent performance of the work…is both manifestly true and slightly misrepresentative of the achievement.

San Francisco Classical VoiceApril 2019

It’s impossible to overstate the brilliance of Bruce Lamott’s Philharmonia Chorale.

San Francisco ExaminerApril 2019

The singers and players were as stylish, precise and expressive as one would expect...one of the finest such groups in the United States.

The Chicago TribuneApril 2018