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April: Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire

REVIEWS

WATCH: “Is Trajan Happy” video by Marica Petrey, California Magazine

results were spectacular.” – James Roy MacBean, Berkeley Daily Planet

…for sheer beauty, both visual and auditory, this lovingly produced Le Temple de la Gloire could not be surpassed.” – Ilana Walder-Biesanz, BachTrack

 …that it has been realized in such an exquisitely refined and coherent manner is almost miraculous.” – Rita Felciano, Dance View Times.

…music and movement, human frailty and the quest for justice were raveled together like those maypole ribbons.” – Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice

..encountering it on stage at last was like watching a resplendently bedecked giant stirring to life.” – Joshua Kosman, SF Chronicle

…conducted with his trademark verve and attention to detail, drawing forceful orchestral responses in the triumphant music and gentle, opulent sound in the pastoral scenes.” – Georgia Rowe, Mercury News

..the orchestration (especially brass and percussion) consistently startles, the rhythmic scheme captivates and the composer’s skill at setting a French text sparkles.” – Allan Ulrich, Financial Times

..the results were vivid enough to make a case for this as an opera worth reviving.” – Harvey Steiman, Seen and Heard International

…at the end of a long road, with international cooperation and a legion of supporters, McGegan’s dream, which he called “living musicology,” became a reality.” – Janos Gereben, Classical Voice North America

The music was terrific and mostly very beautifully performed; yay, Nicholas McGegan, who brings life and joy to all he conducts.” – Lisa Hirsch, Iron Tongue of Midnight Blog

…wonderfully light dances flowed like water over rocks as they embodied shepherds, muses, and other creatures sympathetic to the virtues of magnanimity.” – Paul Parish, The Bay Area Reporter (bottom)

The most consistently beautiful sound came from the Philharmonia Baroque Chorale, singing with a perfect fullness that sounded like a group twice their size.” – Michael Strickland, SF Civic Center Blog

PREVIEWS

“There’s a monumental sense about it,” says Turocy, who praises the producers for mounting the work “with all the force needed to do it. I think these will be once-in-a-lifetime performances.” – Jesse Hamlin, San Francisco Chronicle

It’s period, but fantastical. When everything comes together, it brings you back in time.” – Anne Brice, Berkeley News

There’s a nice topicality to the libretto, says McGegan, a commentary by Voltaire for kings and, perhaps, presidents.” – Cy and David’s Do List, KQED Arts

“…when Voltaire asked Louis XV “Is Trajan happy?” after the 1745 premiere, he was answered only with a chilling silence. “The opera was meant as a lesson in kingship,” McGegan says.” – Charlise Tiee, KQED

The message to the one person who mattered – the King of France – was ‘don’t be a bully,’” says McGegan. – Preview by Georgia Rowe, Mercury News

It wasn’t the first collaboration of Voltaire and Rameau, and they didn’t get along very well, but it was ordered after a military victory by King Louis XV.” – Jeffrey Freyman, State of the Arts Podcast, KDFC

In the words of McGegan, “It’s extravagant, spectacular beyond description.” – Lou Fancher, SFCV

Gala and New Music for Old Instruments

Through the New Music for Old Instruments initiative, PBO will provide a platform for the creativity of young composers and the new music that results.- Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio

March: Operatic Heroes with Iestyn Davies

…one of the finest musical performances of the young year.” –Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

This entailed a generous breadth of emotional dispositions, all of which were delivered with expressive clarity through Davies’ vocal technique.” –Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio Blog

Combining his weighty, agile, beautifully colored instrument with a keen sense of dramatic virtuosity, Davies made each selection on the program sound vibrant.” Georgia Rowe, The Mercury News

January: Haydn & Mozart with Elizabeth Blumenstock

It was an altogether lovely and expressive reading of the piece, greeted with a sustained and well-earned ovation.” – Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice

McGegan and the orchestra gave the piece a suave, forthright reading, full of instrumental color and rhythmic bloom…” – Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

was clearly delighted to have encountered this symphony, and he could not have done a better job of sharing his delight with the audience.” – Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio Blog

December: Handel’s Joshua

Music Director Nicholas McGegan carried it all off splendidly, with rhythmic command and plenty of high-contrast effects. The orchestra, chorus, and vocalists all seemed keenly attuned to the task…” – Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice

..under McGegan’s inspired direction, the performance emerged as one of the period instrument ensemble’s finest offerings in recent memory.” – Georgia Rowe, San Jose Mercury News

There was a generous supply of choral work, all of which was given a dazzling account…” – Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio

East Coast Tour: Harvard & Yale

McGegan presented an enlightening lecture/recital, bringing this fascinating musical period to life via the Yale Voxtet…” – Susan Miron, The Boston Music Intelligencer

November: Vivaldi & Bach with Rachel Podger

The second and third movements offered wonderful dialogue between the two solo instruments, and here Podger and Ruiz were at their best, making this work stand out in a program already full of wonders. – James Roy MacBean, The Berkeley Daily Planet

INTERVIEW WITH RACHEL PODGER
by Jason Victor Serinus, San Francisco Classical Voice

If you play kids some Vivaldi, they go ‘Whee!’ and just jump up and down. It’s popular stuff in that way. Then you play the slow movement and they start dreaming. It’s very wonderful. I think about that a lot, how kids react. We all have a kid inside us. If you can reawaken that in the audience, it’s really nice.” – Rachel Podger

October: All Beethoven with Robert Levin

With torrential arpeggios and raging chromatic scales that pushed the instrument to its limit, Levin evoked the mental image of the composer himself premiering it in 1803.” – Ken Iisaka, San Francisco Classical Voice

McGegan led an evocative and aptly charming account of the “Pastoral,” with a spacious, long-breathed take on the opening movement and an admirably brisk attack on the scherzo.” – Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

The conductor was a master of small details in this extraordinary music and drew from the Orchestra playing of distinct articulation and luminous sound. – Terry McNeil, Classical Sonoma

McGegan coaxed a warm, thrilling sound from the orchestra, so filled with minute twists and turns that it was impossible to disengage.” – Elijah Ho, San Jose Mercury News

NEWS: FIRE AT FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

Berkeley Church Fire Disrupts Concert Life’ – Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

One thing I know is we’ll never find a space better than this,” said Parker Monroe, the interim executive director at Philharmonia Baroque.” – Mark MacNamera, San Francisco Classical Voice

Early Music Ensemble’s Home of 30 Years Destroyed in Fire.” – James Bennett II, WQXR

TANGLEWOOD TOUR AUGUST

It’s old news, but his orchestra really is the finest (Baroque) band in the land.” – Andrew Appel, IMBY

McGegan had his period-instrument orchestra playing with impressive unanimity and spirit.” – Andrew L. Pincus, The Berkshire Eagle

MAY TOUR

…what a joy, what enthusiasm he [Nicholas McGegan] exudes.” Jacques Leclerc – Info-Culture

As far as I could tell, McGegan never stopped smiling, clearly relishing every moment of music making.” Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque supported in glowing hues and lyrical lines, the rhythm driven from the bottom of the orchestra (as in a good jazz band) and the violins gamboling ebulliently.” – Timothy Mangan, Orange County Register

The tenor Mr. Phan, in particular, is becoming a star of the American early-music scene, a status that Philharmonia Baroque has long enjoyed.” – James R. Oestreich, New York Times

CD RELEASE: Scarlatti’s La Gloria di Primavera

The singing and the orchestral playing on this CD are splendid…” – Hans de Groot, The Whole Note Magazine 

Nicholas McGegan is an excellent guide to this paean on a prince’s birth; his players and singers are excellent throughout this work by the elder Scarlatti.” – David Vickers, Gramophone Magazine, Editor’s Choice Recording, July 2017 

Several invocations of nature – pastoral images, a tempest, the flowing Danube – were all beautifully rendered.” – Von Edward Sava-Segal, BachTrack

Turn off the lights, put on this recording, and revel in bliss.” – Jason Victor Serinus, SF Classical Voice

…all vocal and instrumental work was consistently engaging..” – Stephen Smoliar, SF Examiner

McGegan’s brisk leadership gives the whole thing some welcome vitality.” — Joshua KosmanSF Chronicle

April: Hymns of Praise

McGegan led the combined forces of his responsive band, an augmented Philharmonia Chorale, and three soloists on a musical and dramatic spirit quest.” – Steven Winn, SF Classical Voice

McGegan and his crew of musicians — including the excellent Philharmonia Chorale and a lineup of first-rate vocal soloists — unveiled an expansive and eloquent masterpiece.” – Joshua Kosman, SF Chronicle

[McGegan] could not have delivered a more energetic performance, given more clarity than one usually experiences thanks to the PBO instrumental resources.” – Stephen Smoliar, SF Examiner

McGegan…brought it all together in a flowing, rhythmically exuberant performance.” – Georgia Rowe, the Daily Democrat

March: Explore Baroque Europe

Philharmonia Baroque tours Baroque Europe with delightfully diverse programming.” – Stephen Smoliar, SF Examiner

February: Baroque Fireworks Gala, Concert and Tour

an irresistible onslaught of gleaming trumpets and thwacking drums, and those sonorities returned in full Technicolor for the “Fireworks” music.” – Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

the music performed offered far more than razzle-dazzle spectacle…” Stephen Smoliar, SF Examiner

…in terms of enjoyable after-parties, PBO nailed it.” – Beth Spotswood, SFGate

McGegan’s forte is rhythmic vitality, and these mostly dance tunes by Handel sparkled with fresh allure.” – John Frayne, The News Gazette – Urbanna Illinois

February: All Mozart

“Mozart’s concerto and symphonies dazzle under Philharmonia Baroque playing” – Stephen Smoliar, SF Examiner

“…the conducting of Nicholas McGegan was outstanding in its combination of taut structures and delicate passagework.” – James Roy MacBean, The Berkeley Daily Planet 

2015 Year in Review

4. “The Marriage Contract” (April 15): The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera Center joined forces for an uproarious and beautifully sung production of Rossini’s comic one-acter.” – Joshua Kosman, SF Gate

Best of 2015

9. Baroque treasures at American Bach and Philharmonia Baroque: It’s hard to believe, but the Baroque era continues to yield new musical treasures. — In October, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra treated Bay Area audiences to “La gloria di primavera” (The Glory of Spring), a gorgeous evening-length work by Scarlatti making its long overdue U.S. premiere.” – Georgia Rowe, San Jose Mercury News

November. Richard Egarr’s Bach “jam session.” Egarr paid a return visit to Philhamonia Baroque to present a program of three of Bach’s “Brandenburg” concertosEgarr is always a lively conductor, but there was an exciting air of spontaneity in his approach to Bach that will make his performances hard to forget.” – Stephen Smoliar, SF Examiner

Top 10 Classical Music Events of 2015

10. Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra with Sherezade Panthaki (Dec. 2): Panthaki has been a regular and welcome visitor in recent years, but the soprano outdid even her earlier appearances with an exquisite solo turn in music of Handel.” – Joshua Kosman, SF Chronicle

December 2015: Hail, Bright Cecilia

…This one-act oratorio amounts to an elaborate assertion that music is totally awesome, and the performance, in Palo Alto’s First United Methodist Church, could not have been more persuasive on that point.” – Joshua Kosman, SFGate

If ever a competition were held to demonstrate that classical does not equal stodgy, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Music Director Nicholas McGegan would sail through the challenge with ease.” – Jason Victor Serinus, SFCV

November 2015: Bach’s Brandenburgs with Richard Egarr

The entire program dazzled under Egarr’s proclivity for lively interpretations…” Stephen Smoliar, SF Examiner

November 2015: PBO SESSIONS The Royal Brandenburgs

Egarr romanced his audience with infectious enthusiasm and knowing impishness…”Cy Ashley Webb at StarkInsider 

October 2015: Scarlatti’s The Glory of Spring

McGegan…conducted brilliantly…. and the Philharmonia players delivered each episode with clarity and precision.”– Georgia Rowe, San Jose Mercury News

The Glory of Spring” is a feast of vocal invention, supplemented by wondrous instrumental writing for a strikingly large orchestra.” – Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

…[the orchestra] made the Danube River ripple in beguiling legatos, caught the shiny flow of that silver-footed brook, and rallied with declarative trumpets and piping reeds for the more military flourishes.” – Steve Winn, SFCV

McGegan’s selection was thus entirely appropriate for this particular occasion, and the signs could not be better that this will be a delightfully engaging Philharmonia Baroque season.” – Stephen Smoliar, San Francisco Examiner

Nicholas McGegan’s 30th Anniversary  Season

The child of a painter and an architectural historian who were very happy to let him go off and do music, he grew up moving between disciplines…” – Jason Victor Serinus for SFCV

 


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