FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 8, 2020
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Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale Announces Cancellation of All Concerts and Events Through April 2021
The Organization Will Continue To Release Inventive and Engaging Digital Offerings, Including a Virtual “Un-Gala” in February
San Francisco – Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) announces today that all concerts and events from February through April 2021, including its February Gala, have been cancelled, due to continued hall closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Previously, PBO had announced the cancellation of all events through December 2020. In 2021, PBO will build on the successful launch of the online membership-based portal 2020/VIRTUAL, with offerings that will include an “Un-Gala” in February to replace the Gala to celebrate Richard Egarr’s debut season as Music Director. PBO is also exploring opportunities for small live performances when possible; additional details will be announced at a later date.
While out of the concert hall, PBO has executed a quick pivot to an all-virtual season under the expert leadership of Music Director Richard Egarr in his inaugural season, from his home in Amsterdam. Far from going silent during the pandemic, PBO has exploded with activity since lockdowns began in April; in the past three months alone, the organization has produced more than 50 virtual events for audiences worldwide.
“I certainly could never have predicted that my first season as Music Director of Philharmonia would look like this,” said Egarr. “However, there’s more than just a silver lining; through the magic of the digital world, we have been able to reach audiences not only in PBO’s home base, the Bay Area, but around the world. I am so grateful to Philharmonia’s curious, omnivorous audience for coming along with us on this journey, and to the PBO staff for being tireless creative partners in adapting to this new world. We are more than weathering this pandemic, and we’ve learned an awful lot about what we’ll carry forward back in the halls, in homes, community centers, and classrooms. This time has been about far more than filling the void. And it’s been really fun to talk to our friends and patrons one-on-one by phone and in Zoom groups.”
PBO’s slate of newly produced digital content has been popular with existing patrons and new audiences alike; as a natural communicator and educator, Egarr features heavily in much of it. New online series include What’s New and H.I.P. with Tarik and Rick, as part of PBO’s New Music for Old Instruments initiative featuring conversations with Egarr, composer / PBO Artistic Partner Tarik O’Regan, and special guests including Roderick Williams OBE, unpacking and debunking notions around new music; PBO SESSIONS @ HOME, an alternative and interactive concert series that has featured Egarr from his kitchen in Amsterdam; and Jews and Music (JAMOnline), led by Scholar-in-Residence Francesco Spagnolo, with special guests such as MacArthur Fellow and composer Matthew Aucoin and Grammy-nominated mandolinist Avi Avital. Another popular new program has been LIVE From Amsterdam: live-streamed performances featuring Egarr and guest artists from sacred and secular venues across Amsterdam, Egarr’s hometown.
In addition to producing new material, PBO has opened up its archives to patrons, with weekly releases of recordings from the organization’s 40-year history including Handel’s Saul from 2019 featuring star countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, and surprise video releases of highly acclaimed productions like Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire from 2017 and Handel’s opera Aci, Galatea e Polifemo featuring Anthony Roth Costanzo, Davóne Tines and Lauren Snouffer from January 2020. In April, the Philharmonia Baroque Productions record label released albums of Caroline Shaw commissions for PBO—including her oratorio The Listeners—to critical acclaim; and Handel arias sung by Avery Amereau, which won an Editor’s Choice Award from Gramophone Magazine.
“It goes without saying that the 2020-21 season has certainly been challenging,” said Executive Director Courtney Beck. “But I am deeply proud of the work our small team, led by the intrepid Richard Egarr, has put forward for our audience and for those discovering PBO for the first time. Our ultimate goal for Richard’s inaugural season as Music Director was for our patrons and fans to get to know him as a dynamic, engaging artist and friend. Richard is first and foremost a genuinely nice person. What you see is what you get: a highly accessible man who lives to share his ideas about music and is sincerely interested in what others think. His tireless creativity and good humor have only made things better, and our audience feels it. Richard is in his element in his Amsterdam kitchen, and he brings each one of us in. And it’s been amazing to hear Richard—and sometimes together with his wife Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya playing four-hands on the keyboard—perform at beautiful sacred spaces in Amsterdam. When we return to live performance, it will be made richer by the deepened connections we have formed with audiences during this time apart.”
Specific programming for the winter and spring of 2021 will be announced at a later date. More information on 2020/VIRTUAL is available at philharmonia.org/virtual.