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Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra presents “The Well-Caffeinated Clavier,” led by incoming Music Director Richard Egarr

Egarr, who joins PBO as Music Director with the 20/21 season, conducts the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra from the harpsichord, with vocal soloists Nola Richardshon, James Reese, and Cody Quattlebaum

January 13, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO—This February marks a special milestone for Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra as Richard Egarr leads the ensemble for the first time since the announcement that he will become Music Director of PBO with the 2020/21 season. In “The Well-Caffeinated Clavier,” Egarr will demonstrate two of his many talents, conducting secular works by J.S. Bach from the harpsichord, including the well-loved “Coffee Cantata” featuring soloists Nola Richardson (soprano), James Reese (tenor), and Cody Quattlebaum (bass-baritone). Performances take place February 7-9 and February 12 at venues across the Bay Area; complete listing information is below.

Bach’s Cantata No. 211, Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, originated from his tenure as director of the collegium musicum ensemble that frequently performed at Zimmermann’s Coffeehouse in Leipzig. A secular cantata, it got its nickname from the satirical narrative lampooning the coffee addiction of its main character and is proof that Bach definitely had a sense of humor. The performances feature the vocal talents of soprano Nola Richardson, first prize winner in all three major American competitions focused on Bach’s music; tenor James Reese, who returns to PBO after singing on the GRAMMY-winning recording of Gavin Bryars’ The Fifth Century with The Crossing; and bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum, who made his London debut under Richard Egarr with the Academy of Ancient Music.

Egarr will conduct and display his own keyboard virtuosity on two of Bach’s Harpsichord Concertos: No. 1 in G minor, and No. 7 in D minor, the latter of which is a transcription of Bach’s Violin Concerto in A minor (BWV 1041). Bringing the program to a close is the Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, a genre that was massively popular in Germany during Bach’s day, and a work that remains popular to this day, particularly its second movement (better known as the “Air on a G String”).

Additionally, Egarr will lead PBO’s alternative concert SESSIONS on February 6 at ODC Theater in San Francisco. Taking a deeper dive into the grounds and sounds of Café Zimmermann, where Bach and his Collegium Musicum gathered for free weekly concerts, Egarr lead will lead the 90-minute program that includes music, dialogue, and social history. Far from the formal demands of church or court, the eminent Thomaskantor could let loose with the secular and the silly—here a harpsichord concerto, there a humorous paean to the beverage that fueled those performances. The very caffeinated Music Director Designate Richard Egarr will command this coffee accompanying jaunt to Leipzig. Complimentary wine and mingling with the artists will follow the performance. Now in its 5th year, SESSIONS is one of the most successful alternative concert series in the country.

Egarr is already well-known to the musicians of PBO, having guest conducted the orchestra three times since 2012 in both their regular and alternative concert series. He has served as Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music since 2006, succeeding founding director Christopher Hogwood. While he possesses a deep knowledge and passion for the music of the baroque period, he approaches all eras and genres of music with curiosity and open ears, making him the ideal successor to Nic McGegan’s legacy at PBO.

Listing information:

The Well-Caffeinated Clavier
February 7-9 and February 12, 2020

Richard Egarr, conductor and harpsichord
Nola Richardson, soprano
James Reese, tenor
Cody Quattlebaum, bass-baritone
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Friday February 7 @ 8 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Saturday February 8 @ 8 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday February 9 @ 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Wednesday February 12 @ 7:30 pm | Bing Concert Hall, Palo Alto

BACH Harpsichord Concerto No. 7 in G minor, BWV 1058
BACH Cantata No. 211, Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht, BWV 211, “Coffee Cantata”
BACH Harpsichord Concerto No. 1 in D minor, BWV 1052
BACH Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068

SESSIONS – A Cup O’ Johann
Thursday, February 6 @ 8pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco

About Richard Egarr

Richard Egarr brings a joyful sense of adventure and a keen, enquiring mind to all his music-making – whether conducting, directing from the keyboard, giving recitals, playing chamber-music, and indeed talking about music at every opportunity.  Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music, Principal Guest of the Residentie Orkest in The Hague, and Artistic Partner of the St Paul Chamber, Egarr begins as Music Director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale in the 20/21 season, finishing with AAM in Summer 2021 after 14 years at the helm.  He was Associate Artist with the Scottish Chamber 2011-2017, and has conducted many symphony orchestras such as London Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw, Lincoln Center Festival Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra.  In recital, he appears regularly at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. This season Egarr conducts repertoire ranging from Bach through Mozart, Dussek, Beethoven and Brahms to Rossini and Elgar, guesting with orchestras such as the St Louis Symphony, Luxembourg Philharmonic and City of Birmingham Symphony.

About Nola Richardson

Making her mark as an “especially impressive” (The New York Times) soprano, Australian/American Nola Richardson has won First Prize in all three major American competitions focused on the music of J.S. Bach (Bethlehem Bach, 2016; Audrey Rooney Bach, 2018; Grand Rapids Symphony Linn Maxwell Keller Award, 2019). These honors have catapulted her to the forefront of Baroque ensembles and orchestras around the country, where she has been praised for her “astonishing balance and accuracy,” “crystalline diction,” and “natural-sounding ease” (Washington Post).

Nola’s 2019-2020 season will feature her debuts with the Seattle Symphony and Pittsburgh Symphony (Handel Messiah), Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (Bach Coffee Cantata), Tenet (in concert with American violinist Hilary Hahn), Mineola Choral Society (Haydn Creation), Bach Akademie Charlotte, and an appearance at the Leipzig Bach Festival 2020 as a soloist with the Bethlehem Bach Society. She will make her stage debut next summer at the Caramoor Festival in Rameau’s Dardanus, directed by Julian Wachner and James Darrah. Return solo engagements include the American Bach Soloists, American Classical Orchestra (Scarlatti Christmas Cantata), Colorado Bach Ensemble, Madison Bach Ensemble, Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Seraphic Fire, and the Clarion Music Society.

About James Reese

James Reese is a frequently sought soloist and collaborative musician. His 2019-20 season sees solo debuts with American Bach Soloists, the Gamut Bach Ensemble, Tempesta di Mare, the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, Piffaro, and the Master Chorale of South Florida. He also makes return appearances with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, TENET Vocal Artists, Lyric Fest, Philadelphia’s Bach @ 7 series, and Bach Vespers @ Holy Trinity Lutheran NYC.

Previously, James has appeared in concerts with Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra; the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra; Bourbon Baroque Orchestra; Masaaki Suzuki and Juilliard415; the American Classical Orchestra; and at the Ad Astra Music Festival. In May 2018, he made his Carnegie Hall solo debut in Bach’s B Minor Mass with the New York Choral Society, directed by David Hayes. Of that performance, the New York Classical Review wrote, “the high, easy tenor of James Reese…floated beautifully on its own over the long, gentle lines of the Benedictus.” In June 2018, he made his European debut with ensemble Seconda Prat!ca.

About Cody Quattlebaum

American bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum is quickly establishing himself as one of the most exciting new vocal talents of his generation; equally in demand for both opera and concert in repertoire ranging from the Baroque to contemporary.

Highlights in the 2019/20 season include his debut for Opéra national du Rhin in the world premiere of Until the lions : Echoes from the Mahabharata by Thierry Pécou, Zuniga Carmen for Dutch National Opera, Beethoven Missa Solemnis with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Berlioz Roméo et Juliette with the RTVE Symphony Orchestra, and a concert tour of Bach Coffee Cantata with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale and Richard Egarr. In future seasons, Quattlebaum will make his debut at the Teatro Real, Madrid, and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

About Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Under the musical direction of Nicholas McGegan for the past 35 years, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale is recognized as “America’s leading historically informed ensemble” (The New York Times). Using authentic instruments and stylistic conventions from early Baroque to late Romantic periods as well as new commissioned works, the orchestra engages audiences through its signature Bay Area series, national tours, recordings, commissions, and education projects of the highest standard. Founded 40 years ago by Laurette Goldberg, the ensemble is the largest of its kind in the United States.

PBO’s musicians are leaders in period performance and serve on the faculties of The Juilliard School, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Harvard, and Stanford. It welcomes eminent guest artists including mezzo-sopranos Susan Graham and Anne Sofie von Otter, countertenors Anthony Roth Costanzo and Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, violoncellist Steven Isserlis, and maestros Jonathan Cohen and Jeannette Sorrell. PBO enjoys strong relationships with preeminent artistic collaborators including Mark Morris Dance Group, The Juilliard School, and the American Modern Opera Company (AMOC). In collaboration with Cal Performances in 2017, PBO produced its first fully-staged opera, Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire, and since then have produced fully-staged productions of Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo with stage director Christopher Alden and Leclair’s Scylla et Glaucus with Centre de musique baroque de Versailles.

Among the most recorded orchestras in the world, PBO boasts a discography of nearly 50 recordings, including a coveted archival performance of mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in Berlioz’s Les Nuits D’été, and a GRAMMY-nominated recording of Haydn symphonies. The orchestra released the world premiere recording of the original version of Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire with the unedited libretto by Voltaire in 2018. In April 2020, PBO will release two groundbreaking recordings: a full collection of commissioned works by Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw, and a selection of arias sung by rising star contralto Avery Amereau.

Under the superb direction of Bruce Lamott, the Philharmonia Chorale is critically acclaimed for its brilliant sound, robust energy, and sensitive delivery of the text, the Philharmonia Chorale was formed in 1995 to provide a vocal complement whose fluency in the stylistic language of the baroque period matched that of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. Chorale members appear regularly with organizations such as the San Francisco Symphony, Carmel Bach Festival, and American Bach Soloists, are guest soloists with most of the area’s symphonic and choral organizations, appear in roles with regional opera companies, and have been members and founders of some of the country’s premier vocal ensembles, including Chanticleer, the Dale Warland Singers, and Theatre of Voices. Founded by John Butt, a baroque keyboardist and one of the world’s leading Bach scholars, the Chorale has been led by Lamott since 1997.

Stephanie Li
Marketing Associate