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Aleba Gartner —


New Music Director Richard Egarr leads no holds barred season; Anthony Roth Costanzo, Davóne Tines, Julia Bullock in August production; Egarr to lead PBO on NY July tour; Philharmonia Chorale opens season with Schumann Requiem after 20-month hiatus; Christmas brings Bach’s grand Christmas Oratorio; Jonathan Cohen and Skip Sempé to guest conduct; Egarr leads blowout Bach B Minor Mass Gala concert with star cast and Juilliard415; Mass to be performed at Lincoln Center before Bay Area performances; Alternative programs abound: SESSIONS with Creative Partner Davóne Tines and Composer-in-Residence Tarik O’Regan, What’s New & H.I.P. with Tarik & Rick; Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, Roslyn Barak to appear in Jews & Music; finale spectacle with fully-staged Handel’s Radamisto starring Iestyn Davies


June 8, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, CAPhilharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) comes roaring back for its 2021/22 concert season. Richard Egarr, whose first planned season as PBO Music Director was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, has assembled a season chock full of music old, new and rarely heard. A hallmark of the season is the number of debuts by star soloists and conductors; world premieres and new productions; large-scale choral works by J.S. Bach and Schumann; the return of acclaimed series Jews & Music and SESSIONS; tour performances in New York; and a reimagining of the new talk show “What’s New & H.I.P. with Tarik & Rick,” which originated during the pandemic. Taken as a whole, the 21/22 season commits fully to exploring and presenting what a Baroque ensemble can and should be in the 21st century, all this alongside the very recent appointments of Composer-in-Residence Tarik O’Regan and Creative Partner Davóne Tines.

In July 2021, Philharmonia marks an important post-pandemic milestone with its first performances outside the Bay Area in two years. With concerts at the Caramoor Summer Music Festival in Katonah, New York (July 18) and on the Naumburg Orchestral Concerts series in New York City’s Central Park (July 20) featuring Richard Egarr, soprano Rowan Pierce and the Orchestra, musical fireworks abound in a program encompassing the baroque sounds of 1600s London, centering on “hits” by Henry Purcell and his contemporaries.

Just before the official start to the season (August 25–29), PBO presents the world premiere of The No One’s Rose, a new work of music, dance, and theater by American Modern Opera Company (AMOC), featuring a new score by composer Matthew Aucoin. The No One’s Rose, PBO’s co-production with AMOC and co-commissioned by Stanford Live, was originally scheduled to take place in October 2020. The piece takes its inspiration from the poetry of Paul Celan, a Holocaust survivor who chronicled the catastrophes of the twentieth century, and whose poetry Aucoin sets to music. Celan becomes a spirit guide for the artists as they grapple with the most urgent issues of our time, from pandemic-induced isolation to the ravages of climate change. Aucoin’s music is interwoven with the music of Bach, Berlioz, Sam Cooke, and others, with choreography by Bobbi Jene Smith. Directed by Zack Winokur, the acclaimed young opera director currently spearheading the revitalization of live performance at NY PopsUp, the production features AMOC’s formidable roster of singers, dancers, and instrumentalists. Countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and bass-baritone/PBO Creative Partner Davóne Tines return to PBO after a rapturous reception in Handel’s Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, while soprano Julia Bullock and tenor Paul Appleby make their long-awaited debuts.

The 21/22 season kicks off with Richard Egarr’s first official appearance as Music Director, leading the Orchestra and Chorale in Schumann’s rarely performed Requiem (October 14–17). An all-star quartet of soloists includes soprano Amanda Forsythe, mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, tenor Brenden Gunnell, and bass Joshua Bloom. The breathtaking voices of the Philharmonia Chorale will be heard for the first time since December 2019. To open the program, violinist Shunske Sato makes his PBO debut in Schumann’s Violin Concerto, allegedly re-discovered through a séance in 1933.

In November, PBO presents a dizzying journey through centuries and across continents, led by acclaimed Baroque conductor Jonathan Cohen in his second appearance with PBO (November 10–14). Rising star cellist Keiran Campbell—with deep ties to PBO as a recent participant in the PBO/Juilliard partnership, and as the newly appointed principal cellist of PBO’s Canadian counterpart Tafelmusik—is soloist for C.P.E. Bach’s Concerto for Violoncello in A major. True to form for PBO, the program also features an inspired pairing of old and new: Geminiani’s Concerto Grosso in D minor, “La Folia,” and a world premiere co-commission with Australian Baroque Orchestra by Australian composer Paul Stanhope, with his own take on the ancient “La Folia” folk melody.

Richard Egarr and Philharmonia usher in the holiday season as only they can with J.S. Bach’s celebratory Christmas Oratorio (December 9–12). Joining the award-winning Philharmonia Chorale, contralto Avery Amereau returns to PBO with a fabulous cast that boasts multiple debuts with soprano Lydia Teuscher, tenor Gwilym Bowen, and bass-baritone Ashley Riches.

The new year brings another tour to New York and the continuation of PBO’s training and mentoring program with Juilliard’s Historical Performance division, this time for J.S. Bach’s B Minor Mass, the crowning achievement of the Baroque repertoire and perhaps of all classical music. Richard Egarr leads a side-by-side performance with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale, musicians from Juilliard’s J415 ensemble, and vocal soloists from Juilliard at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall (January 29). Then, Richard and PBO bring Bach back to the Bay Area for three blowout performances (February 2–5) of the B Minor Mass with J415 students and soloists Mary Bevan (soprano), Iestyn Davies (countertenor), James Gilchrist (tenor), and Roderick Williams (baritone). At the February 4 Gala performance at San Francisco’s Herbst Theatre and hosted by Creative Partner Davóne Tines, PBO and patrons will finally give Richard Egarr a long-overdue welcome toast and celebration.

February also brings an all-Mozart program, with soprano Elizabeth Watts making her PBO debut in some of the composer’s beloved arias. Richard Egarr leads the Orchestra from the fortepiano as soloist in Mozart’s Concerto No. 24 in C minor; the program closes with Symphony No. 38, “Prague,” which pushed the orchestra of its day to the limit (February 10–13).

Skip Sempé makes his PBO conducting debut in March, leading French Baroque works by Lully, Couperin, and Marais, all of whom reflect the opulence of Versailles in their heavily ornamented music. PBO oboist Marc Schachman steps into a soloist’s role for Albinoni’s beautiful Oboe Concerto (March 9–13).

The culmination of this radical season is a fully staged new production of Handel’s Radamisto at Stanford University’s Bing Concert Hall (April 20–24), brought to life by French stage director Christophe Gayral. Countertenor Iestyn Davies sings the title role in his second appearance on PBO’s 21/22 season, leading a phenomenal cast. As an “opera seria,” Radamisto was written expressly to showcase exquisite voices with dazzling arias. No one does Baroque opera like PBO, and this emotional drama provides a fitting close to an equally emotional concert season.

In addition to its mainstage concert sets, Philharmonia’s popular series SESSIONS and Jews & Music return in 21/22. Francesco Spagnolo returns as Jews & Music (JAM) Scholar-in-Residence, and SESSIONS programs will be curated by Composer-in-Residence Tarik O’Regan and Creative Partner Davóne Tines. Two dynamic JAM programs will take place at JCCSF, the first Handel’s Biblical Heroes & Villains (November 11) with guest conductor Jonathan Cohen; the second, Cantorial (Re)Volutions (March 10) featuring countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen and Cantor Roslyn Barak, will explore the changing role of the cantorial voice and those artists who straddle the operatic and cantorial worlds. Additionally, the series “What’s New & H.I.P. with Tarik & Rick,” created during the pandemic, will come to life in both in-person and digital spaces during the 21/22 season. Additional details to be announced.

Reflecting on the season, Egarr says, “At long last, I’ll have the chance to conduct the full forces of the Orchestra and Chorale as Music Director. Of course more than a year without live performance was painful, but we used this time in ways that brought us together even while I was in Amsterdam. We learned so much about each other and what we’re capable of, and there’s lots we’ll carry into the live space. This whole experience has only reinforced the essential human need for the communal experience of live concerts. I’m very excited to introduce so many new artists, and it’s a great testament to the importance of and heightened interest in historical performance and how we choose to be HIP performers in today’s world.”

“The only way back was to come back strong. Long before the pandemic, we set a course that focused on intensive innovation. That commitment enabled us to thrive over the past 15 months, to keep building on a very strong foundation, and that’s fully reflected in the range and fearlessness of our programming. Our ties to an extended community have deepened and where they’re not deep enough we have plans that will only strengthen those ties. The 21/22 season shines a spotlight on an ensemble that deftly navigates the worlds of chamber and orchestral performance, opera, and alternative formats that push us to think about music and context in unusual ways. To say we are thrilled to finally see Richard in person is an enormous understatement. His creativity and connection during the pandemic were extraordinary. It only gets better from here,” says Executive Director Courtney Beck.

Click here for PBO biography, and click here for photos.