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2019/20 SEASON

REVIEW: A Cosmic Notion

The performance was all you could wish for.—Michael Zwiebach, San Francisco Classical Voice

In the nine-movement “Ode,” McGegan’s lively conducting and joyful interactions with the vocalists and lush-sounding orchestra instilled the occasion with vibrancy, as did crisply toned countertenor Reginald Mobley, whose pairing with a trumpet suggested the dawn of a new day. Also notable were Bruce Lamott’s plushly sonorous chorale, clear-voiced soprano Arwen Myers, resilient bass-baritone Dashon Burton and velvety contralto Avery Amereau.—James Ambroff-Tahan, San Francisco Examiner

Shaw has taken the occasion of writing for period instruments to heart—this is her fourth commissioned work for Philharmonia—in a way that exploits the sounds of the orchestra without overstating things. The Philharmonia Chorale, directed by Bruce Lamott, dived headlong into the score’s rich harmonies, and the orchestra gave the music the necessary sparkle.—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle


Commissions, Grammy Award-winning performers, the West Coast Premiere of the praised NY production of Handel’s “Aci, Galatea e Polifemo” with star countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, and a fully staged production of Leclair’s “Scylla et Glaucus,” which PBO will take on tour to Versailles, highlight McGegan’s versatility and expertise over more than 35 years on the podium.—Philip Campbell, Bay Area Reporter

2018/19 SEASON

PBO TOUR: Los Angeles

In all this McGegan, who during the last 33 years has made Philharmonia Baroque the most robust of American early music ensembles and who takes infectious pleasure in Handel, was in his element. He assembled a first-rate cast and fine chorus. His period orchestra is stuffed with early music stars…”—Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

REVIEW: Handel’s Saul

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… What mattered was the dimensionality of the whole, the depth of feeling and dramatic urgency that came together with such authority and grace under conductor Nicolas McGegan’s sure hand.”—Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice

In an expansive and beautifully sung concert performance in Berkeley’s First Congregational Church on Saturday, April 6, McGegan and his forces underscored the resourceful extravagance of Handel’s 1744 masterpiece. But just as in the score itself, this was an occasion on which David walked off with the crown.”—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

It’s impossible to overstate the brilliance of Bruce Lamott’s Philharmonia Chorale, but suffice it to say that this 25-member mixed chorus sounded tremendous as the Chorus of Israelites. From gentle laments to scornful outbursts despairing over the future of their nation, they serve heroically as the conscience of “Saul.”—Georgia Rowe, San Francisco Examiner

As Michel, soprano Sherezade Panthaki, was outstanding. Her command of elaborate coloratura passages is almost beyond belief. Yet Panthaki can also be softly sweet-voiced when the libretto calls for it. Tenor Aaron Sheehan was excellent as Jonathan, a role that calls for a balance between allegiance to a father (Saul) and allegiance to a beloved friend (David).”—James MacBean, Berkeley Daily Planet

with his team, McGegan admirably eschewed the grandiose and opted for lightness, eloquence and precision.”—Paul Selar, Opera Chaser

The sheer beauty of his tone, strong, pure, and smoothly rounded, is perfect for the expressive airs in “Saul.” As David, lamenting the loss of his beloved friend Jonathan, he brought intense feeling to his grief. Heroic and seductive at other points in the story, he was also dramatically convincing as a youthful hero who could provoke self-defeating doubt and jealousy in the increasingly deranged title character.”—Philip Campbell, Bay Area Reporter

PBO TOUR: New York

Must See Classical Concerts This March” —WQXR

REVIEW: Anne Sofie von Otter

…it’s already clear how much the sounds of the old instruments, and the musical traditions they embody, have sparked Shaw’s imagination.” —Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle.

In these songs, Caroline Shaw emphasizes the tonal colors of period instruments, thereby creating an intriguing mix of Baroque and modern music.” —James MacBean, Berkeley Daily Planet 

ANNOUNCEMENT: Richard Egarr Named PBO’s New Music Director Designate

In the course of performing with the orchestra, I’ve been amazed at the freshness, the energy and the willingness to try new things,” he said in a phone interview with The Chronicle.—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

In a phone call from Cincinnati, where he was leading the CincinnatiSymphony in a program of Bach and Vivaldi, Egarr said he was pleasedto accept the post with Philharmonia Baroque, which is widelyconsidered one of today’s leading and most influential Baroque ensembles.”—Georgia Rowe, East Bay Times

What I love about the organization is that they’re totally supportive of artistic ideas, and the stuff I’ve been throwing around with them over various meals and drinks, every now and again.”—KDFC State of the Arts with Jeffrey Freymann

Egarr has been described as “a consummate musician with a wicked sense of fun” —Janos Greben, San Francisco Classical Voice

Mr. Egarr said that he looked forward to exploring a wide array of repertoire — including early-17th-century works by composers including Monteverdi; Bach’s passions and B-minor Mass, which he said he would like to perform with the Philharmonia Chorale…”—Michael Cooper, The New York Times

REVIEWS: Philharmonic Fire with Patrick Dupré Quigley

Quigley gave the work an infectious momentum, and the three vocal soloists – soprano Margot Rood, tenor Steven Soph and bass Steven Eddy – wove their overlapping vocal lines dexterously.”—Joshua Kosman, Datebook, SF Gate

Singing with secure phrasing, accuracy, and a graceful delicacy in the rapid runs and ornaments of the first movement, Mobley was just as beautifully convincing in the legato lines of the largo movement, “Cum dederit dilectis”—Michael Zwiebach, San Francisco Classical Voice

REVIEW: Vivaldi the Teacher

For the lively finale, Dickey and Youssefian harmonized in parallel thirds to bring this work to a joyful close.” —James MacBean, Berkeley Daily Planet

PREVIEW: Vivaldi the Teacher

In partnership with the Juilliard School’s Historical Performance Program, “Vivaldi the Teacher” includes concertos the Italian teacher-composer wrote for his gifted students.”—Georgia Rowe, Mercury News 

FEATURE: Period Crossing, Symphony Magazine, Fall 2018

“British conductor Nicholas McGegan, music director of San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale, has been playing with or conducting period and modern orchestras for nearly half a century, and he believes things have changed enormously. “Modern and period-instrument musicians have learned from each other,” he observes. “Modern orchestras now have a good way of playing Classical music—they’ve moderated their vibrato. Period orchestras have stopped being fixated about style and become more interested in making music.”—Symphony Magazine, Fall 2018

REVIEWS: Mozart Magnified

…the Chorale delivered a performance that was at once tonally robust and full of striking details — a subtle shift in dynamics here, a daringly executed careen around a tight rhythmic bend there. Lamott’s guidance was everywhere in evidence.”—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

One after another, the soloists laddered upwards. The chorus, reinforced by the brasses, added emphatic exclamations. The soloists, whose voices blended gorgeously and transparently in the ensembles, were mutually sensitive, ringing out brightly or tactfully deferring as needed.”—Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice

Ortiz was clearly in top form for her K. 165 solo work; and all four soloists were decidedly on the ball for the entire K. 317 Mass setting.”—Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio Blog

The Chorale, led by Bruce Lamott, was excellent in the C Major Mass, as throughout the concert; and conductor Nicholas McGegan led the orchestra in a taut, precise interpretation of these early religious compositions of Mozart.”—James MacBean, Berkeley Daily Planet

Philharmonia Baroque Chorale would be the star of the night; their sounds blended harmoniously, all the way from the hushed quiet whispers to the thickest wall of sound.”—Michael Anthonio, Parterre.com

NEWS: Nicholas McGegan’s Retirement

“I am certainly not retiring and I’m in good health,” Nicholas McGegan, 68, reassured Classical Voice when asked about today’s announcement…” Janos Gereben, San Francisco Classical Voice

“I’ve been saying for a number of a years that I wanted to pull back from actually being captain of the ship and be, shall we say, an elegant passenger,” McGegan, 68, said in a phone interview.” —Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

He helped make the West Coast a period-instrument power. He expanded the repertory, conducting little-known Baroque works as well a new ones written for antique instruments. And he made the music of Handel and Rameau seem new again…” –Michael Cooper, The New York Times

Feature: Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra to Open Phil’s 65th

“We still have founding members with us,” [McGegan] said. “They’re a very loyal group. We all think alike. And we’re more individual in how we make music.” —interview with Nicholas McGegan, Los Angeles Times

Preview: Mozart Magnified

Under music director Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque opens its fall season with “Mozart Magnified,” a program of three of the sacred works the composer wrote in Salzburg…” —The Mercury News

CD Review: Handel’s Atalanta

The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra demonstrates astonishing affinities in the art of ornamenting and characterizing, according to the desire for fluidity and eloquence, dramatism and elegance, obviously desired by the conductor.” —CLASSIQUENEWS .COM

New York Times Fall Arts Preview

PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE ORCHESTRA Not to be confused with the London-based ensemble above, this early-music group from San Francisco and its leader, Nicholas McGegan, are joined at Alice Tully Hall by Anne Sofie von Otter and Anthony Roth Costanzo in works by Handel, Purcell, Arvo Pärt and Caroline Shaw. March 12, lincolncenter.org.”—New York Times

TOUR: PBO Performs Handel’s Atalanta at Caramoor

“McGegan and the orchestra are extremely experienced with this music, specializing in the baroque to global acclaim for their accurate and passionate performances…..And when the equally experienced singers enter after the overture, we enter a different, dare I say, rare world.”- Matt Costello, OperaWire

CD RELEASE: Rameau Le Temple de la Gloire

This recording is a triumph for Nicholas McGegan and his Philharmonia Baroque….McGegan is able to give us a splendidly realized account of this 1745 version.” —Barker,  American Record

Nicholas McGegan’s touch has never been surer, and he pushes artists and moods to their expressive limits.” – BBC Music Magazine

McGegan’s account of that technique is a spirited one. His sense of pace consistently sits well with both the instrumental and vocal work.- Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio

Nicholas McGegan conducts with his customary brio, Bruce Lamott’s Philharmonia Chorale contributes robust massed singing, and the strongest members of the large….cast of solo singers deliver Rameau’s vocal lines elegantly” – Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

The orchestra, stretched to 40 players (triple winds plus extra percussion and a musette [bagpipe]), captures all the rapidly shifting moods brilliantly.” – Michael Zwiebach, San Francisco Classical Voice

…the original version of Le Temple de la Gloire has received a marvelous and thoroughly engaging set of performances by the Philharmonia Baroque Chorale and Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan – and live recordings of those performances, from April 2017, have been used to produce an absolutely first-rate two-CD release.”- InfoDad.com

For summertime listening, it doesn’t get any better.” – Patrick Neas, Kansas City Star


Philharmonia Baroque Mixes It Up in 2018-2019″ – Michael Zwiebach, San Francisco Classical Voice

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