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National Public Relations:
Amanda Sweet, Bucklesweet Media


Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale names Richard Egarr as next Music Director, its second in their nearly 40-year history

Egarr, currently serving as Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music, will succeed Nicholas McGegan beginning in the 2020/21 season

January 17, 2019

SAN FRANCISO—Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) Board President Kay Sprinkel Grace and Executive Director Courtney Beck announced today that Richard Egarr has signed a five-year contract to be the next Music Director of the ensemble. Egarr will be the second Music Director in PBO’s nearly 40-year history; he succeeds Nicholas McGegan, who will have held the position for 35 years at the end of the 2019/20 season. Egarr will join PBO at the start of the 2020/21 season, at which time his title will be Music Director Designate, due to his continuing work as Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music. He will assume the title of Music Director beginning in the 2021/22 season.

“I am delighted to name Richard Egarr as Philharmonia’s new Music Director,” said Executive Director Courtney Beck. “Nic McGegan has laid an extraordinary foundation from which Richard can build. Richard is an exceptional and unique conductor who has incredible command of the baroque, classical, and early romantic repertoire and enthusiastically embraces PBO’s new music initiative. Audiences will sometimes see Richard conducting from the harpsichord; I am certain we will also see him in recital in coming seasons, perhaps with other well-known collaborators. Richard has new ideas about repertoire and soloists as well as interesting ideas about major projects that build on what PBO has been doing so well. He approaches the classical music and pop culture worlds with equal curiosity and has omnivorous musical taste. Audiences love him because he’s relatable and a natural teacher, and what he draws from the Orchestra is profound on many levels. What you see is what you get with Richard: a down-to-earth artist who loves music and people no matter their background.”

“I am beyond thrilled and hugely excited by my appointment with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale,” said Egarr. “I have had wonderful contact with the players and the entire organization during my previous engagements, and could not be more honored by and committed to my forthcoming role.  I hope to continue the amazing work which Nic has done so far.  I also hope to inspire, deepen and develop the repertoire and playing.  There is still much to do and new attitudes to bring to the world of historical performance, and I am grateful and overjoyed to be able to continue my work in this field with PBO.”

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. In addition to the Music Director position at PBO, Egarr was also recently named Artistic Partner of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Residentie Orkest The Hague. As a director, Egarr straddles the worlds of historically-informed performance and modern symphonic performance, making him the ideal fit for PBO’s parallel commitments to early and new music. Egarr has been on the faculty of The Juilliard School for six years in their Historical Performance division, and in August of 2018, he made his debut with the Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra at Lincoln Center. Born in Lincoln, England, Egarr has lived in Amsterdam for more than 20 years.

“The Board of Directors and I are thrilled to have engaged Richard Egarr, a conductor with extraordinary talent, charisma and reputation,” said Kay Sprinkel Grace. “Philharmonia has achieved national and world acclaim, the culmination of Nicholas McGegan’s nearly 35 years of musical leadership. That high level of global regard was instrumental in Richard Egarr’s acceptance of this position, and we look forward to another dynamic era ahead.”

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 since 2006, in September 2019 he adds two new responsibilities as Principal Guest Conductor of the Residentie Orkest  The Hague and Artistic Partner of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in Minnesota. He was Associate Artist of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra from 2011/2017, has conducted major symphonic orchestras such as London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw, Seattle Symphony and The Philadelphia Orchestra, and guested with leading baroque ensembles such as Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale and the Handel and Haydn Society. He regularly gives solo harpsichord recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Smithsonian and elsewhere.

In 2018/19 Egarr conducts Bruckner’s “Nullte” and Beethoven 5 with the Residentie Orkest, Schumann 2 with the Utah Symphony, and Schubert 9 with the Handel and Haydn Society. He makes his debut with the Cincinatti Symphony Orchestra with Bach and Vivaldi and returns to the Seattle Symphony and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra for Handel and Purcell. He also returns to the Kioi Hall Chamber Orchestra Tokyo for Bach and Vivaldi, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for more Handel and the Seoul Philharmonic for Mozart. He plays solo harpsichord recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Tokyo Spring Festival and at the Madrid Auditori. Season highlights with the Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican Centre include Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (staged) and Handel’s rarely-performed Brockes Passion, and his first collaboration with the Grange Festival (staged Nozze di Figaro).

Early in his tenure with AAM Egarr established the Choir of the AAM; operas and particularly Handel’s oratorios lie at the heart of his repertoire. He made his Glyndebourne debut in 2007 conducting a staged version of St Matthew Passion. He has directed Mozart’s La Finta Giardinera, a Monteverdi cycle and Purcell operas with the Academy of Ancient Music at the Barbican, and staged productions of La clemenza di Tito, Le nozze di Figaro and Rossini’s Il Signor Bruschino at the Netherlands Opera Academy. He has a long-standing teaching position at the Amsterdam Conservatoire and has been on faculty at the Juilliard School’s Historical Performance division for six years.

Egarr’s extensive discography on Harmonia Mundi includes solo keyboard works by JS Bach, Handel, Mozart and Louis Couperin. His long list of recordings with the Academy of Ancient Music includes seven Handel discs (2007 Gramophone Award, 2009 MIDEM and Edison awards), and JS Bach’s St. John and Matthew Passions on the AAM’s own label. His latest recital disc of Byrd and Sweelinck appeared in May 2018 on Linn Records, who have also released his performance of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore live from the 2015 Edinburgh International Festival.

Egarr trained as a choirboy at York Minster, at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, and as organ scholar at Clare College Cambridge. His studies with Gustav and Marie Leonhardt in Amsterdam further inspired his work in the field of historical performance.

Richard Egarr is represented by Intermusica in London. 

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.