FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 21, 2023
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PHILHARMONIA BAROQUE ORCHESTRA & CHORALE (PBO) ANNOUNCES ITS FORWARD THINKING 2023/24 SEASON—OFFERING SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE TO ENJOY THE JOY OF HISTORICALLY INFORMED PERFORMANCE. WITH A RANGE OF MUSICAL EXPERIENCES & NEW FORMATS, PBO IS ALWAYS EXPANDING THE POSSIBILITIES.
- “Garden of Good & Evil” reprises in its 23/24 season opener the US premiere of works by composers Tarik O’Regan and Errollyn Wallen & music of Handel featuring breathtaking countertenor Tim Mead, following acclaimed performances in the UK
- US Premiere of new fully staged opera Dido’s Ghost by acclaimed British composer Errollyn Wallen CBE
- PBO launches new Coffee & Cake morning series with Music Director Richard Egarr leading Bach’s Brandenburgs in new venues and new neighborhoods across the Bay Area
- World premiere by pathbreaking singer and composer Roderick Williams OBE
- Special holiday concert centered on the Philharmonia Chorale directed by Valérie Sainte-Agathe spanning six centuries of Christmas
- Ninth year of PBO’s Jews & Music presents 400th anniversary performance of Rossi’s Songs of Solomon
SAN FRANCISCO—Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) enters its 2023/24 season with an outstretched hand that opens musical doors for all, showcasing a range of repertoire, concert formats, vanguard artists and composers. While the season is rooted in the baroque, the ensemble—Orchestra and Chorale—flexes its musical muscles in ways that invite audiences of all kinds to experience classical music in an encouraging and explorative environment. PBO remains a vital force in the historically informed performance movement, reimagining historic works and illuminating brand new musical innovation for a diverse and modern audience that wants more and sometimes even less. Richard Egarr enters his fourth year as Music Director, presenting ever-ambitious programs with today’s foremost artists, both seasoned performers and rising stars, from across the globe. In her second year as Chorale Director, Valérie Sainte-Agathe shines an even brighter spotlight on the vocal ensemble as an extraordinary leader of choral music in the Bay Area.
The 2023/24 season opens with Garden of Good & Evil—an eagerly-awaited reprise of PBO’s acclaimed UK performances in summer 2022. The powerful program showcases the full gamut of Handel’s oeuvre, featuring arias from Admeto, Giulio Cesare and Judas Maccabaeus, delivered with emotional clarity and verve by sensational British countertenor Tim Mead. At the heart of the program is a duo of compositions exploring the creation story by two of today’s most powerful musical voices: composer Errollyn Wallen CBE and PBO’s Composer In Residence Tarik O’Regan, set to text researched and adapted by singer and scholar Reginald Mobley. “Soaring ambition and vividly projected Handel” (The Guardian, 2022).
In a unique and first time experience, PBO presents two ways to experience the beloved story of Dido & Aeneas, offering both Purcell’s original opera and a fully staged production—Dido’s Ghost—a new opera composed by Errollyn Wallen CBE and directed by Frederic Wake-Walker, effectively providing a sequel to Purcell’s masterpiece (which is performed in its entirety, as if a flashback, in Wallen’s work). The libretto is written by Wesley Stace, the co-author of choreographer Mark Morris’ memoir, Out Loud. A master of the baroque and equally at home with the new, conductor John Butt returns PBO for these performances after conducting the premieres at London’s Barbican and at Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival in summer 2021 to critical acclaim. The all-star cast features sopranos Nicole Heaston and Nardus Williams, mezzo-soprano Allison Cook, and bass-baritone Matthew Brook. Dido’s Ghost is a co-commission with Dunedin Consort, Edinburgh International Festival, The Barbican Centre, Buxton International Festival, and Mahogany Opera. “It’s an intoxicating cocktail…with the magnetic Matthew Brook as Aeneas, and stage director Frederic Wake-Walker, whose visual solutions to the flashback challenges are simple but ingenious.” (The Scotsman, 2021).
The holiday season brings a full concert focusing on the Philharmonia Chorale, covering no less than 600 years of music celebrating Christmas. From John Tavener’s haunting “The Lamb,” to motets by Sweelinck, to the rich melting harmonies of Rachmaninoff, the program displays many generations of vocal and instrumental techniques, adapting to each work with scholarship and spirit. The program also features a brand new commission by innovative British opera singer and composer Roderick Williams OBE, continuing PBO’s commitment to the continuously morphing world of classical music and its successful commissioning program New Music for Old Instruments. The program began in 2015 and has spurred numerous new works, including a triple commission of works by Caroline Shaw, and works by Tarik O’Regan, Paul Stanhope, Errollyn Wallen, Aaron Jay Kernis, among others.
Music Director Richard Egarr and Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya return to the keyboard together following their magical and popular virtual programs in 2020, but this time in the in the live space with Double Espresso—a keyboard program all about doubles: Bach’s concertos for two harpsichords and graceful music by Telemann scored for doubles of instruments. The program explores the role of the coffee house in the baroque era—a place for socializing and art.
Violin virtuoso Shunske Sato returns to PBO after his exhilarating performance of Schumann’s violin concerto in 2021, this time with Mendelssohn’s ever-popular violin concerto. The program of romantic era music contains a real rarity—Schumann’s intense and emotional Requiem, a dramatic showcase for the rich, resonant sound of the Philharmonia Chorale. The Schumann Requiem is rarely performed and was originally scheduled to be performed by Philharmonia in 2021, but the pandemic stood in the way. Now Music Director Richard will finally perform this vital work.
Food and drink are a key to fostering communities. In a brand new format, PBO will introduce in the 2023/24 season its Coffee & Cake Concerts, brightening the mornings of audiences across the Bay Area in new venues and new neighborhoods, including San Francisco’s Richmond District, Oakland and Palo Alto. Kicking off the series, Music Director Richard Egarr will present a selection of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos in these fun and hour-long performances for audiences of all ages and backgrounds to interact with Richard and the Orchestra over refreshments. Tickets are only $40.
Jews & Music (JAM) remains a central part of Philharmonia’s offerings. In its 9th year, PBO will present a celebratory 400th anniversary performance of Salomone Rossi’s Songs of Solomon. Featuring select musicians from the Chorale, JAM Scholar in Residence Francesco Spagnolo explores the role of this major work of Jewish art which marries Hebrew text with early baroque musical style.
Continuing his role of Creative Partner, Davóne Tines bolsters PBO’s education programs with a focus on high school music education. PBO’s first ever Conducting Fellow/Assistant Conductor David Belkovski enters his second year working with Richard Egarr, the Orchestra and Chorale, in the rehearsal process and performances throughout the season. Composer in Residence Tarik O’Regan unveils new commissions and partnerships, to be announced soon.