Philharmonia Baroque announces its 2012-13 Season





Highlights of the 32nd Season Include Handel’s Teseo, Purcell’s Dioclesian and Debuts of Emanuel Ax, Masaaki Suzuki and Rachel Podger

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra Brings Handel’s Messiah to Cal Performances and Sonoma State University’s New Green Music Center

California Tour Brings Vivaldi’s Four Seasons to Carmel, La Jolla and Stanford University’s New Bing Concert Hall

San Francisco, CA – March 13, 2012 – Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, dedicated to historically informed performance of Baroque, Classical and Early Romantic music on original instruments, announce their 32nd season.

Music Director Nicholas McGegan leads the ensemble in four concerts as well as a California tour in January.  Maestro McGegan opens the season with a unique all-Purcell program in October, showcasing the phenomenal Philharmonia Chorale.  Led for the past fifteen years by Director Bruce Lamott, the Chorale has been praised for recent performances with San Francisco Classical Voice writing, “the Philharmonia Chorale was the star from beginning to end… superbly sung” of the December 2011 performances of Bach’s Mass in B Minor.  With countertenor Clifton Massey and individual soloists from the Chorale, Philharmonia Baroque brings to life Purcell’s magnificent birthday ode to Queen Mary–Come Ye Sons of Art–in addition to the rollicking drinking songs in the rarely performed “semi-opera” Dioclesian.  Over the course of its history, Philharmonia Baroque has performed large-scale Purcell works such as Fairy Queen, Dido and Aeneas, Indian Queen and King Arthur; these October performances of Dioclesian conclude the cycle. (Pictured Left: Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra by Randi Beach)


Led by Maestro McGegan, the November concert programs feature Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4 performed using instruments from the period when Beethoven premiered the symphony in 1807.  Internationally renowned pianist Emanuel Ax makes his Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra debut in these concerts with Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4.  Emanuel Ax will perform on fortepiano, the instrument for which Beethoven composed, using an instrument constructed during Beethoven’s lifetime. The program also includes Beethoven’s Twelve Contredanses for Orchestra.  In addition to the four regular subscription performances, this concert will also be presented at the Mondavi Center at the University of California, Davis.  (Pictured Right: Emanuel Ax by Maurice Jerry Beznos)


Bach specialist Masaaki Suzuki, Music Director of the Bach Collegium Japan since its founding in 1990, makes his Philharmonia Baroque debut in two sets of special concerts with the Orchestra and Chorale, joined by soloists from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music.

Soprano Sherezade Panthaki, mezzo-soprano Fabiana González, tenor Dann Coakwell and bass-baritone Dashon Burton join Suzuki, the Orchestra and Chorale for performances of Handel’s Messiah with a concert at UC Berkeley presented by Cal Performances, and at Sonoma State University in the inaugural season of the Green Music Center.  Following their performances of Messiah, Maestro Suzuki leads the Orchestra, Chorale and Yale University soloists in music of Johann Sebastian Bach.  The concerts include Orchestral Suite No. 3, Cantata No. 63 Christen, äzet diesen Tag and the special Christmas version of Magnificat.  (Pictured Left: Masaaki Suzuki by Marco Borggreve)

In January, Music Director Nicholas McGegan leads the Orchestra on tour to Carmel, La Jolla and Stanford in performances showcasing concertmaster Elizabeth Blumenstock in Vivaldi’s Le quattro stagioni, recently recorded and released on the ensemble’s own label and described by San Francisco Classical Voice as  “….brimming with color, vitality and imaginative interpretation of the programmatic cues in the music.”  Maestro McGegan returns in February for concerts featuring two beloved Philharmonia Baroque wind players – Marc Schachman and Danny Bond – performing Johann Christian Bach’s Sinfonia Concertante for Oboe and Bassoon.  Haydn’s Symphony No. 44 “Trauer,” J.C. Bach’s Symphony Op. 6 No. 6 and Mozart’s Symphony No. 29 round out the program.

English violinist Rachel Podger, one of the most creative talents to emerge recently in the field of period performance, joins Philharmonia Baroque in March.  Over the last two decades she has established herself as a leading interpreter of the music of the Baroque and Classical periods – she led The English Concert from 1997 to 2002 and is a guest director of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment – and holds numerous recordings to her name ranging from the early 17th century to Mozart.  These concerts feature Baroque concerti for one, two and four violins by Vivaldi, Corelli, Pergolesi, Locatelli and Mossi.  (Pictured Right: Rachel Podger by Jonas Sacks)

Philharmonia Baroque’s 32nd season comes to a close in April with opera-in-concert performances of Handel’s rarely performed opera seria, Teseo, featuring many of the same cast members who worked with McGegan in the final performances of his 20-year tenure as music director of the Göttingen International Handel Festival in summer 2011.  Maestro McGegan and the Orchestra are joined by sopranos Amanda Forsythe, Dominique Labelle, Amy Freston and Céline Ricci, as well as countertenors Robin Blaze and Drew Minter.  Amanda Forsythe will be making her Philharmonia Baroque debut; she has earned accolades for several roles at the Boston Early Music Festival.  Though the opera received approximately a dozen performances in the months after its January 1713 premiere, it received only two revivals between 1713 and 1984.  Musical America, in reviewing the Göttingen  performances, said “Demonstrating a keen instinct for shaping Handel’s phrases, McGegan made an inspired case for the little-known score.”  (Pictured Left: Amanda Forsythe by Clair Folger)

During Philharmonia Baroque’s regular season, the Orchestra will perform in Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, First Congregational Church in Berkeley and at two venues on the Peninsula: The Center for Performing Arts in Atherton and Stanford University’s new Bing Concert Hall in Stanford.

Philharmonia Baroque will continue to release recordings on its Philharmonia Baroque Productions label; its second release, Haydn: Symphonies Nos. 104 “London,” 88, and 101 “The Clock” was nominated for a GRAMMY® Award for Best Orchestral Performance in 2011.  The Orchestra plans a number of releases in the next year, details of which will be announced at a later date.

Music Director Nicholas McGegan stated, “This season is book-ended by spectacular vocal events, Purcell’s rollicking Dioclesian and Handel’s virtuosic Teseo, and brings to our concert halls three major international music stars in Emanuel Ax, Masaaki Suzuki and Rachel Podger.  Our field of historically-informed performance offers a never-ending wealth of discovery both to the musicians and the audiences, and I’m thrilled to be part of it.  It’s especially gratifying that we have now received GRAMMY® nominations for both our recently released Haydn CD and our 1990 recording of Handel’s Susanna.”

“The artistic mission embraced by Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra is an important one, and the performances scheduled for the 2012-13 season exemplify this mission like none before it,” said newly appointed Executive Director Michael Costa.  “I couldn’t be happier about the artistic growth of our orchestra and chorale in recent seasons and I’m particularly excited and humbled to be stepping into the role of Executive Director at this auspicious point in our history.”