Prelude Lectures

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra is pleased to present Prelude Lectures. These informal discussions take place forty five minutes before each concert performance. They are free to all ticket-holders and are designed to enrich the concert experience with thoughtful insights from Nic McGegan, guest artists, musicians, scholars and speakers from the world of classical music. We invite all ticket-holders to join us for our Prelude Lectures throughout the season.


Sunday, October 16, 3:15 p.m. | First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Wednesday, October 19, 6:45 pm | Bing Concert Hall, Stanford Saturday
October 22, 7:15 p.m. | First Congregational Church, Berkeley

kate-van-ordenKATE VAN ORDEN (classical bassoon) studied modern bassoon at Sweelinck Conservatorium, Amsterdam, and early bassoons at the Koninklijk Conservatorium, The Hague, and began her career with European ensembles including Les Arts Florissants, La Chapelle Royale, and the Orchestra of the Renaissance. In America she has performed regularly with Tafelmusik and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and made over sixty recordings. She is the Dwight P. Robinson, Jr. Professor of Music at Harvard University, and her most recent book, Materialities: Books, Readers, and the Chanson in Sixteenth-Century Europe (Oxford, 2015), just received the bi-annual book prize from the Society for Renaissance Studies.

Beethoven’s deafness, irascibility, and failed relationships (both familial and romantic) have caused him to be portrayed as a troubled genius, unkempt, brilliant, reclusive, so in touch with the transcendent realm of musical ideas that he had only one foot in the mundane reality inhabited by others. This talk, however, skirts that legacy to zoom in on Beethoven the performer, premiering his highly Mozartian Piano Concerto in C minor at the piano, and Beethoven the crowd-pleasing composer, whose evocative “Pastoral” Symphony dipped into a long tradition of charming audiences with character pieces.

Friday, October 21, 7:15 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco


ANNE MIDGETTE Anne Midgette is an author and classical music critic of The Washington Post. A Yale graduate, she was for seven years a regular contributor of classical music and theater reviews to the New York Times. She has also written about music, the visual arts, dance, theater and film for the Wall Street Journal, Opera News, the Los Angeles Times, Town & Country, and many others. She is currently working on a historical novel about the woman who built pianos for Beethoven.


Beethoven’s piano works were written at a time when the piano itself was emerging from a phase of development similar to that of the early personal computer: there were lots of different models floating around, and it was not immediately clear which ones would become dominant. In Beethoven’s lifelong exploration of different instruments, as the piano changed and grew, the name of the Streicher firm is a leitmotif: a manufacturer that helped develop the modern piano, that was bound to Beethoven by a close personal friendship – and that was run by a woman.