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Links to recent online news articles are posted, along with excerpts from published performance reviews. For further information, please email us or call (415) 252-1288, ext. 311.

2021/22 SEASON

REVIEW: Philharmonia Baroque broadens its sights to include music of the Romantic era

“Sato, Egarr and the orchestra demonstrated how much we miss by not encountering the piece more regularly…Certainly Sato made a persuasive case for the work, shaping the broad paragraphs of the opening movement with a sure hand and tearing through the virtuosic passagework of the finale without missing a step.”—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

REVIEW: Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Revels in Schumann

“The orchestra broke from the gate in full stride, the new jockey riding just as buoyantly as the old one in a concert featuring two exhilarating Robert Schumann works, the Violin Concerto and the Second Symphony.”—Michael Zwiebach, San Francisco Classical Voice

2020/21 SEASON

REVIEW: PBO is Bringing Back Baroque

The audience lucked out by the “substitution” of Augusta McKay Lodge, an Ohio native based in Paris, famous for her violin performances in Baroque literature and acting as concertmaster of orchestras specializing in the period…Lodge led with her violin in ensemble performances throughout the evening but also shone in such solo roles as in Vivaldi’s Concerto for 2 Violins and Violoncello in D Minor, RV 565, along with Carla Moore and William Skeen. The ensemble — besides those mentioned consisting of violinists Noah Strick and Katherine Kyme, violist Aaron Westman, double bassist Kristin Zoernig, David Tayler on theorbo, and Hanneke van Proosdij on harpsichord — managed to make up for the small numbers and the distance between the musicians by playing with focus and determination.Janos Gereben, San Francisco Classical Voice 

NEWS: Performing arts outfits, once analog’s champions, realize that digital is here to stay

“Courtney Beck, executive director of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale, says her organization is considering adding a live stream option to every concert set in the coming season.”—Lily Janiak and Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle 

NEWS: The performing arts used to be local by definition. Now what?

“Fisher isn’t alone. The online offerings by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale have attracted patrons from Oregon to Belgium. “We had a woman at one of our events in northwest Australia,” said Executive Director Courtney Beck. “I don’t even know how she found us!”—Lily Janiak and Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle 

NEWS: Waiting for SF Opera’s Fall Season While Opera Houses Open and Close Everywhere

“For Herbst’s reopening, SFCV has learned, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale will do the honors on June 11. Executive Director Courtney Beck says only 223 will be seated in the 916-seat hall, reflecting the city’s previous 25 percent audience allowance.”—Janos Gerenben, San Francisco Classical Voice

NEWS: Philharmonia establishes a bold new creative partnership with bass-baritone Davóne Tines

“The thrust of the collaboration is to answer the question, ‘What is the point of a Baroque organization in the 21st century?’ ” Tines said in a recent phone interview with The Chronicle. “It’s a provocative question, but also a challenge, and I thought I could honestly interrogate that question over the course of a year.”—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle 

NEWS: PBO’s Richard Egarr Is Up for Everything

It’s been more than a year of pandemic shutdown, and Richard Egarr has yet to occupy his physical office, near Union Square in San Francisco, as music director of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale. “He took the reins on July 1 [2020],” notes Courtney Beck, PBO’s executive director for six years, “and he basically said, ‘there’s nothing we can do, so let’s do everything we can.’”—Jeff Kaliss, San Francisco Classical Voice

NEWS: Philharmonia Baroque taps San Francisco artist as its first composer in residence

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale has named Tarik O’Regan as its composer in residence — the first time in its 40-year history that the early-music ensemble has supported such a position.—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle 

2019/20 SEASON

REVIEW: The Well-Caffeinated Clavier

Playing with lucid and liquid technique, interpretive verve, and rhythmic acuity, the soloist/conductor steered the way with authority and allure…Egarr can make the harpsichord sing sweetly and growl, fret, muse, and even thunder a little. PBO audiences are getting a keyboard master in their new music director.—Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice

[Richard] brings a lively spontaneity to his execution… delivering one of the liveliest (caffeinated?) accounts of this well-known score that could be imagined.—Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio

REVIEW: Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo

McGegan conducted the Philharmonia Baroque Chamber Players with flawless grace and exactitude…. Their sound was fluent and luxurious, distinct, precise, the brass bold and bright, the recorder delicate, the strings and harpsichord a filigree of exactness and sweetness. Together with the singers they created a tapestry of beauty that unfurled like waves. Full and plentiful, luxurious, powerful, the production shone with splendor. Yes, that is the only word for it: Splendid.—Lois Silverstein, Opera Wire

Answering each other’s sinuous and sumptously decorated vocal lines, Snouffer and Costanzo sang with unsparing vitality and expressiveness on opening night… Snouffer drew the single strongest card of the evening and played it splendidly in her lavishly trilling bird aria. The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra’s shimmering accompaniment and the delicate, stuttering flight of a bird across the video screen supplied an elevating lift. Conducting from the harpsichord keyboard, Nicholas McGegan led a performance that matched the emotional fiber and immediacy of the singers.—Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice

Over the last 35 years, Nicholas McGegan has made the Bay Area’s Philharmonia Baroque into America’s premier early music ensemble… he has outdone himself with a stupendously sung and profoundly disquieting “Aci.” Acis and Galatea express themselves through spectacular singing, at which Snouffer and Costanzo prove breathtaking.—Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

…one of the striking aspects of this project…is how seamlessly its strands fuse with one another. The terror and the tenderness, the formal artifice and the expressive immediacy — they’re all bound up together in an inventive weave… Davóne Tines as Polifemo, his resonant bass-baritone extending easily to stratospheric highs and cavernous lows, is a terrifying embodiment of implacable will. Conductor Nicholas McGegan and the players of Philharmonia are practiced hands at this repertoire, and their contributions — particularly in the garish but impressive brass fanfare that greets Polifemo’s arrival — were never less than stellar.—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

…Davóne Tines was outstanding as Polifemo. His robust, ultra-masculine bass-baritone captured the power of this bestial Polyphemus, son of Poseidon… [his] wonderfully emotive falsetto voice conveyed layer upon layer of emotional depth. As Acis, soprano Lauren Snouffer was superb. Vocally, she was luminous.”—James Roy Macbean, Berkeley Daily Planet

REVIEW: The Music of Shakespeare

Conductor Nicholas McGegan led the brilliant ensemble, joined by soprano Sherezade Panthaki who sang like a celestial diva…Philharmonia Baroque is a glistening Bay Area ensemble…”—Barbara Rose Shuler, Monterey Herald

REVIEW: Judas Maccabaeus

…Bruce Lamott’s Philharmonia Chorale contributed singing of remarkable tonal heft and dramatic vigor… it’s to the credit of Philharmonia and McGegan—who is now midway through his valedictory season after 35 remarkable years as music director—that the piece came off as enticingly as it did.—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

…Prominent throughout, too, was the chorus, which conductor Nicholas McGegan adroitly led, along with the superb orchestra… The chorus’ famous Act 3 “See, the conqu’ring hero comes!” was magnificent.—James Ambroff-Tahan, San Francisco Examiner

[Philharmonia Baroque Chorale] were a resounding group, singing with highly attractive and varied gradation while communicating their sentiments with a convincing air…Nicholas McGegan steered a thoroughly expert and tightly tuned orchestra, and offered the music up in a respectful and sensitive homage to Handel…—Paul Selar, Opera Chaser

…McGegan has always prized flexibility and dramatic immediacy, as Saturday’s performance in Berkeley’s First Congregational Church showed. He gave the singers their time and they rewarded him and the audience with superbly characterized performances… 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.—Michael Zwiebach, San Francisco Classical Voice

REVIEW: Mozart’s Musings

…the orchestra rose to the occasion. The pace allowed the melody to float freely—especially through the strings’ rich playing—and avoided getting bogged down in individual bars; the contrasts between slow/piano sections and quick/forte ones were also very pronounced. These choices created a thrilling experience for the listener, and the orchestra succeeded where others may have fallen apart.—Catriona Barr, San Francisco Classical Voice

In the hands of oboist Gonzalo X. Ruiz and conductor Jeannette Sorrell, this Oboe Concerto was a show-stopper! The virtuosity of Ruiz was spectacular; and Jeannette Sorrell’s conducting was both graceful and animated.—James Roy Macbean, Berkeley Daily Planet

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

CD REVIEW: Handel Joseph and His Brethren

Enhancing the performance immeasurably are the superbly proportioned, technically immaculate contributions of the Philharmonia Baroque and Philharmonia Chorale.—Roger Pines, Opera News

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,

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,”—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.”-

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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