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Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale announces cancellation of fall live concerts; replaces with robust 2020/VIRTUAL series led by Music Director Richard Egarr, scholars, guest artists

Highlights include LIVE from Amsterdam, Jews & Music programming, New Music Dialogues, SESSIONS, and more.

San Francisco — Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) announces today the cancellation of its fall concerts, September through December 2020, and announces concurrently a robust slate of virtual programming the organization has developed thus far, with more to be announced in the weeks and months ahead. The 2020/21 season was announced last January, and Richard Egarr officially became Music Director on July 1, 2020.

Together with Music Director Richard Egarr, PBO is actively re-envisioning the first half of its upcoming 20/21 season under its latest initiative — 2020/VIRTUAL — an umbrella for a variety of inspired and unusual programming. The new series includes: “LIVE From Amsterdam” with Richard Egarr in solo recital at the keyboard and with guest artists live from sacred and unique secular spaces in Amsterdam; PBO’s Chorale Director & Scholar-in-Residence Bruce Lamott will lead Musical Explorations, a series of scholarly musings that will feature podcasts, live interviews with various scholars and musicians; and PBO SESSIONS, the organization’s popular alternative concert series, will move to an online platform with musical guests and deconstructed musical programs. As the only major American orchestra with a permanent focus on Jews & Music (JAM) that seeks to explore the relationships between Jews and non-Jews and the socio-political milieu in which music was and continues to be made, Scholar-in-Residence Francesco Spagnolo will direct JAMOnline: an interactive monthly series with insightful dialogue, art, and musical performances by PBO musicians, special guests and Music Director Richard Egarr. New Music for Old Instruments will move to an interactive digital space for conversations between Richard Egarr and some of the most prominent living composers writing expressly for period instruments, providing audiences insights onthe composing process and more.

Says Egarr, “Regardless of all that’s happening with this pandemic, it is thrilling to become PBO’s music director and I am totally honored. Of course, we had all kinds of plans and now we just have different plans. There’s so much music still to discover and current circumstances don’t change that. We can choose to be creative and make the most of it, or we can wait it out without trying. I choose the former. PBO is a versatile and nimble organization. We can do all kinds of things and I love the audience.”

“This is a shocking moment for all orchestras, but with severe hardship comes opportunity, as cliché as that sounds, rethinking what music means and how it’s made and how we share with our multigenerational audiences all that makes PBO so unusual in the classical music world. This moment is about far more than creating virtual content on the fly. Hearing music is vital, but it’s only part of the story at PBO. What has always set us apart is the familial experience, the open invitation to come as you are, and to learn. And those guiding principles are only amplified now and with someone like Richard at the podium, whether here or from Amsterdam. Not only has Richard has been actively planning for the inevitable cancellations, he’s also been engaging with patrons since the pandemic began, having great conversations by phone from Amsterdam. I’m talking about conversations with real people who’ve possibly come to a concert or two, maybe they’ve subscribed for 10 years or more. What’s happening here is only partially about the pandemic; it’s about changing the course and tone of how an orchestra and its conductor interacts with its people. And we are staying focused on keeping historically-informed performance alive, which is such a rich and versatile art form in ways that are innovative, bold, and responsive. This is the long game,” says Philharmonia Executive Director, Courtney Beck.

In addition to its regular and alternative series, Philharmonia is scheduled to produce with Mark Morris Dance Group and Cal Performances the long awaited return of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Platée in May of 2021.

On Wednesday, July 22, Philharmonia will also welcome Richard Egarr in a Facebook Live event where he’ll discuss the upcoming season.

Philharmonia hopes to return to concert halls in 2021 and is working diligently to find a safe path back to live performances while continuing to support its artists and community.

For more information of the 2020/VIRTUAL program go to

Memberships are available to the public and can be purchased for the 2020/VIRTUAL series at

Click here for PBO biography.

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