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Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale announces programming for 2019/20 season, Nicholas McGegan’s final season as Music Director

Highlights include a major new commission by Caroline Shaw to open the season; the Bay Area premiere of PBO’s co-production of Handel’s “Aci, Galatea e Polifemo;” and appearances by Music Director Designate Richard Egarr

February 19, 2019

SAN FRANCISCOPhilharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) announces its 2019/2020 season, “Reflections,” its most ambitious season to date that looks back on and celebrates the genius and versatility of Music Director Nicholas McGegan, who retires at the season’s conclusion. “Reflections” is the perfect encapsulation of McGegan’s legacy over 35 years as Music Director: repertoire ranging from Baroque to Classical and Romantic to a major new commission by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw; not one, but two new fully-staged productions of Baroque operas starring some of today’s brightest vocal talents including countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, bass-baritone Davóne Tines, and soprano Lauren Snouffer; the continuation of PBO’s successful alternative PBO SESSIONS series; and a tour to Versailles, the heart of the French Baroque.

“It is because of Nic McGegan’s incredible work that PBO is the leading historically-informed ensemble in America,” said PBO Executive Director Courtney Beck. “It is also thanks to Nic that we are doing things no other orchestra in the Bay Area is doing, from full operas and orchestral programs to new commissions for period instruments, an alternative concert series, a unique program that focuses on Jews and classical music, and regular recordings. Philharmonia has made it a priority over the years to partner and build relationships with artistic luminaries like Mark Morris Dance Group, Caroline Shaw, Anthony Roth Costanzo, and others; these artists have come to trust in Philharmonia’s commitment to excellence and creativity, and have come back to work with us again and again. Our 2019/20 season is the culmination of a career that demonstrates the evolution of historically-informed performance and a celebration of all that PBO has become under Nic’s leadership.”

The season opens in October with the world premiere of “The Listeners,” a PBO commission by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, who, as McGegan notes, was only three years old when he first took the mantle of Music Director. Shaw’s affinity for Baroque forms and period instruments dovetails perfectly with PBO’s mission to keep historical performance a vital, living art form, exemplified in its New Music for Old Instruments initiative; in fact, PBO was the first Bay Area orchestra to commission a work by Shaw. “The Listeners,” Shaw’s most ambitious project yet for Philharmonia, comes on the heels of her recent three-song cycle PBO commissioned for mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, the first of which premiered at Los Angeles’ Disney Hall in 2016. The world premiere of “The Listeners” highlights the low-register voices of operatic stars Avery Amereau (contralto) and Dashon Burton (bass-baritone) with the acclaimed Philharmonia Chorale. McGegan conducts the program that also includes Handel’s “Eternal Source of Light Divine.”

In November, San Francisco native Jeannette Sorrell, founding director of period instrument ensemble Apollo’s Fire and 2019 GRAMMY® winner for the recording “Songs of Orpheus,” makes her long-awaited debut as guest conductor with PBO. Sorrell leads PBO in “Mozart’s Musings,” an overview of Mozart’s prodigious output, with works from his childhood to his prime. PBO’s own Gonzalo X. Ruiz steps forward as soloist in the Concerto for Oboe in C Major. Also on the program is Mozart’s French contemporary André Grétry, whom Sorrell calls “Mozart with a French accent.”

The holiday season will see McGegan in his element, leading the major Handel oratorio “Judas Maccabaeus” with PBO favorite and GRAMMY® nominee Nicholas Phan (tenor) singing the title role. McGegan, one of the world’s foremost authorities on Handel, last brought this enduringly popular work to life in 1992. Phan, another natural Handelian, also appears on PBO’s forthcoming recording “Joseph and his Brethren,” to be released in April of 2019.

Another unmissable event of the 19/20 season will undoubtedly be the Bay Area premiere in January of PBO and National Sawdust’s co-production of Handel’s “Aci, Galatea e Polifemo,” which was rapturously received by audiences and critics alike upon its premiere at National Sawdust in New York City in the summer of 2017. Original cast members Anthony Roth Costanzo (who also served as co-producer with Cath Brittan) and Davóne Tines reprise their respective roles as Galatea and Polifemo, with soprano Lauren Snouffer joining as Aci. This production, directed by Christopher Alden, catapulted Costanzo into the national spotlight, paving the way for his innovative multi-genre project “Glass Handel” in 2018. PBO hosts the Opening Night Gala for “Aci, Galatea e Polifemo” on January 22, 2020 at the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera in San Francisco, with six additional performances following at the ODC Theater.

In February, Richard Egarr returns to PBO for his first performances as Music Director Designate, conducting Bach from the harpsichord. His concert set, “The Well-Caffeinated Clavier,” features J.S. Bach’s lighthearted Coffee Cantata, one of his few secular cantatas, with soprano Nola Richardson, tenor James Reese, and bass-baritone Cody Quattlebaum. Some of Bach’s grandest instrumental music, including two harpsichord concertos that show off Egarr’s virtuosity on the instrument, complement the Cantata.

PBO demonstrates its versatility in March with “Romantic Reflections,” a concert set of historically-informed Romanticism. Violin virtuoso Alana Youssefian, last seen on PBO’s November 2018 program of Vivaldi concerti and the winner of Juilliard’s 2017 Historical Performance Concerto Competition, has already proven her skill in Baroque repertoire; in 2020, she shows off her more Romantic side with Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor. Paired with Mendelssohn’s lush and passionate score are Cherubini’s overture to “Démophoon” and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9, considered by many to be his finest work for orchestra.

Bringing the season to a close is a new fully-staged production of Jean-Marie Leclair’s “Scylla et Glaucus,” from the same creative team as PBO’s acclaimed staging and recording of Rameau’s “Le Temple de la Gloire;” the Centre de musique baroque de Versailles specifically chose PBO to be its American collaborative partner for this landmark production. “Scylla et Glaucus” stars soprano Véronique Gens in her San Francisco debut as the sea witch Circé, soprano Chantal Santon-Jeffery as Scylla, and haute-contre Aaron Sheehan as Glaucus, and features dancers from the New York Baroque Dance Company. At the request of the Centre de musique baroque, PBO will bring “Scylla et Glaucus” on tour to Versailles in late April 2020 at the Royal Opera House in the Palace of Versailles.

Supplementing its mainstage concert sets are two new installments of the Orchestra’s popular PBO SESSIONS series, 90-minute deconstructions of music, socio-political history, and art. In the midst of his concert set in February, Music Director Designate Richard Egarr leads one of these PBO SESSIONS programs, focused on the informal side of J.S. Bach. The combination of Egarr’s depth of knowledge on this music and his sense of wit will undoubtedly unlock a new level of appreciation for Bach’s genius. Then, PBO’s Jews & Music scholar Francesco Spagnolo returns in March for an exploration of Mendelssohn and 19th-century Germany. PBO’s ongoing Jews & Music Initiative, launched in 2015, investigates Jewish historical contexts that inform music-making from the 17th through the 21st centuries.

In addition to its performances of “Scylla et Glaucus” at the Palace of Versailles in April, PBO also presents a touring program of the Music of Shakespeare in Livermore and Carmel-by-the-Sea in January 2020, with McGegan conducting the Philharmonia Baroque Chamber Players and soprano Sherezade Panthaki singing works by Purcell, Locke, Arne, and more, all with texts inspired by the Bard.

Subscriptions to the new 2019/20 season are available to the public for prices ranging from $90 to $660. Call (415) 295-1900 to subscribe or visit

About Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

Under the musical direction of Nicholas McGegan for the past 33 years, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) is recognized as America’s leading historically informed ensemble. Using authentic instruments and stylistic conventions of the Baroque to early-Romantic periods, the orchestra engages audiences through its signature Bay Area series, national tours, recordings, commissions, and education projects of the highest standard. Founded in the San Francisco Bay Area 37 years ago, the ensemble is the largest of its kind in the United States and is known for its versatility in programming and joyful performances.

PBO’s musicians are among the best in the country and serve on the faculties of The Juilliard School, Harvard, and Stanford, among others. The Orchestra performs an annual subscription season in four venues throughout the San Francisco Bay Area as well as the orchestra’s popular alternative concert series for younger and new audiences—PBO SESSIONS which has regularly sold out since its inception in 2014. In April 2017, PBO performed the modern-day premiere of Rameau’s “Le Temple de la Gloire.” The fully-staged opera included an international cast of singers and dancers and celebrated sold-out audiences and critical acclaim from around the world.

Each season welcomes eminent guest artists such as mezzo-sopranos Susan Graham and Anne Sofie von Otter, countertenor Andreas Scholl, violoncellist Steven Isserlis, fortepianist Emanuel Ax, and maestros Jordi Savall and Richard Egarr. The Orchestra enjoys numerous collaborations, including an ongoing partnership with the Mark Morris Dance Group and tours regularly to venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Tanglewood, and Weill Hall at the Green Music Center. In July 2017, PBO co-produced the critically-acclaimed modern adaptation of “Aci, Galatea e Polifemo” in partnership with Anthony Roth Costanzo and National Sawdust in Brooklyn.

Among the most recorded orchestras in the world, PBO boasts a discography of more than 40 recordings and launched its own label in 2011, on which it has released ten 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 a recording of its modern North American premiere of Alessandro “Scarlatti’s La Gloria di Primavera,” which coincided with a tour in May 2016 and released the world premiere recording of the original version of Rameau’s “Le Temple de la Gloire” with the unedited libretto by Voltaire in July 2018.

In 2015, Philharmonia launched its Jews & Music Initiative—a permanent effort to explore and understand the relationship between Jews and music from the 17th to the 21st centuries. The initiative brings Jewish historical context to classical music and provides opportunities for significant collaboration with SFJCC, the Jewish Contemporary Museum, Oshman JCC, and The Magnes Collection at UC Berkeley, among others. In 2016, Harvard and Yale universities invited PBO to present “Jews of the 17th Century Italian Jewish Ghetto” featuring works by Salomone Rossi and Monteverdi. The program was reprised at the University of Chicago in April 2018 and was deemed “shimmering….stylish, precise and expressive” by the Chicago Times.
PBO launched its New Music for Old Instruments initiative in 2016 as an effort to commission and perform new works written expressly for period instruments. Recent commissions include a co-commission with London’s Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment with composer Sally Beamish, two works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, the first for mezzo-soprano Anne-Sofie von Otter that enjoyed its world premiere at Walt Disney Concert Hall in April 2016 followed by the second piece in the song cycle for soprano Dominique Labelle in 2017. A third piece will be premiered at Lincoln Center in 2019. Additionally, PBO commissioned “To Hell and Back” by Guggenheim Fellow Jake Heggie. Future seasons will bring new commissions by Caroline Shaw, Matthew Aucoin, and Mason Bates.

To nurture the next generation of historically informed performance, Philharmonia and The Juilliard School’s Historical Performance program partner to bring the star students of Juilliard415, the school’s acclaimed period instrument ensemble, to practice and perform alongside PBO’s seasoned professionals. Annual residencies include masterclasses, coaching, and a culminating side-by-side showcase of PBO mentors and J415 students.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra was founded by harpsichordist and early music pioneer Laurette Goldberg. Nicholas McGegan will become Music Director Laureate effective with the 2020/21 season.

2019/20 Season Concert Schedule

A Cosmic Notion
October 17–20, 2019

SHAW The Listeners
HANDEL Eternal Source of Light Divine

Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Arwen Myers, soprano
Avery Amereau, contralto
Reginald Mobley, countertenor
Dashon Burton, bass-baritone
Philharmonia Chorale, Bruce Lamott, director

Thursday October 17 @ 8 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Friday October 18 @ 7:30 pm | First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto
Saturday October 19 @ 8 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday October 20 @ 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Mozart’s Musings
November 13–17, 2019

MOZART Overture to La finta semplice, K. 51
GRÉTRY Orchestral suite from Zémire et Azor
MOZART Concerto for Oboe in C major, K. 314
MOZART Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550

Jeannette Sorrell, conductor
Gonzalo X. Ruiz, oboe

Wednesday November 13 @ 7:30 pm | Bing Concert Hall, Stanford
Friday November 15 @ 8 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Saturday November 15 @ 8 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday November 17 @ 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus
December 5–8, 2019

HANDEL Judas Maccabaeus

Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Robin Johannsen, soprano (Israelitish Woman)
Sara Couden, mezzo-soprano (Israelitish Man)
Nicholas Phan, tenor (Judas Maccabaeus)
Philharmonia Chorale, Bruce Lamott, director

Thursday December 5 @ 7 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Friday December 6 @ 7:30 pm | First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto
Saturday December 7 @ 7 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday December 8 @ 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo
January 22–February 1, 2020

HANDEL Aci, Galatea e Polifemo

Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Lauren Snouffer, soprano (Aci)
Anthony Roth Costanzo, countertenor (Galatea)
Davóne Tines, bass-baritone (Polifemo)
Philharmonia Baroque Chamber Players

Christopher Alden, stage direction
Mark Grey, sound & video design
Seth Reiser, lighting design
Terese Wadden, costume design
Paul Tate dePoo III, set design

Wednesday, January 22 @ 8 pm | Diane Wilsey Center for Opera, San Francisco

Friday January 24 @ 8 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco
Saturday January 25 @ 8 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco
Sunday January 26 @ 3 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco
Wednesday January 29 @ 8 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco
Friday January 31 @ 8 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco
Saturday February 1 @ 8 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisco

Produced by Anthony Roth Costanzo and Cath Brittan; a co-production of National Sawdust and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

These performances are not part of the regular subscription season and must be purchased separately.

The Well-Caffeinated Clavier
February 7–12, 2020

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

Richard Egarr, conductor & harpsichord
Nola Richardson, soprano
James Reese, tenor
Cody Quattlebaum, bass-baritone

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, Stanford

Romantic Reflections
March 11–15, 2020

CHERUBINI Overture to Démophoon
MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
SCHUBERT Symphony No. 9 in C major, D. 944, “The Great”

Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Alana Youssefian, violin

Wednesday March 11 @ 7:30 pm | Bing Concert Hall, Palo Alto
Friday March 13 @ 8 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Saturday March 14 @ 8 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday March 15 @ 4 pm | First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Leclair’s Scylla et Glaucus
April 15–19, 2020

LECLAIR Scylla et Glaucus

Nicholas McGegan, conductor
Chantal Santon, soprano (Scylla)
Aaron Sheehan, haute-contre (Glaucus)
Véronique Gens, soprano (Circé)
Judith van Wanroij, soprano (Vénus, Témire, Dorine)
Douglas Williams, baritone (Licas)

New York Baroque Dance Company
Les Chantres de la Maîtrise du Centre de musique baroque de Versailles

Catherine Turocy, stage direction & choreography
Marie Anne Chiment, costume design
Pierre Dupouey, lighting & set design

A co-production of Centre de musique baroque de Versailles and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale

Wednesday April 15 @ 7 pm | Herst Theatre, San Francisco
Friday April 17 @ 7 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Saturday April 18 @ 7 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Sunday April 19 @ 3 pm | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco


A Cup o’ Johann
with Music Director Designate Richard Egarr
Thursday, February 6, 2020 @ 8 pm | ODC Theater, San Francisc

Jewish Songlines
Performers, Patronage & Prejudice
Tuesday, March 10, 2020 @ 8 pm | Bing Concert Hall Studio, Stanford


Music of Shakespeare
with Sherezade Panthaki
Saturday, January 11, 2020 @ 8 pm | Bankhead Theater, Livermore, CA
Sunday, January 12, 2020 @ 3 pm | Sunset Center, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Leclair’s Scylla et Glaucus
Saturday, April 25, 2020 |Royal Opera House, Palace of Versailles, France
Sunday, April 26, 2020 |Royal Opera House, Palace of Versailles, France



Dianne Provenzano
Director of Marketing & PR