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Richard Egarr Makes His First Bay Area Appearances Since His Appointment as Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale’s Music Director with Schumann’s Reawakened Masterpieces, October 14-17 at Herbst Theatre, San Francisco, Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University & First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Featuring Violinist Shunske Sato as Soloist in Schumann’s Violin Concerto, in his Philharmonia Debut

SAN FRANCISCO–Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale (PBO) presents its official season-opening concerts, October 14-17, featuring Richard Egarr’s first Bay Area appearances since his appointment as Music Director in 2020. Violinist Shunske Sato makes his Philharmonia debut with Schumann’s rarely performed Violin Concerto on this program, titled Schumann’s Reawakened Masterpieces.

Two orchestral works by Robert Schumann form the backbone of this unusual program. Schumann’s Violin Concerto was only discovered in 1933, allegedly during a séance wherein the Swedish Ambassador to London received a series of psychic messages as to its whereabouts. The work, which features satisfyingly rich melodies and noble grandeur, can also be appreciated as a “missing link” between the more-often-heard violin concertos of Beethoven and Brahms.

In his Philharmonia debut, Baroque and Classical violinist Shunske Sato reunites with Richard Egarr, with whom he made his UK debut ten years ago, as soloist in Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with the Academy of Ancient Music, where Egarr has served as music director for the past 15 years. Sato, who has played violin since the age of two, and who, like Egarr, is based in The Netherlands, currently serves as artistic leader and concertmaster for the Netherlands Bach Society Orchestra.

Paired with the Concerto is Schumann’s Symphony No. 2, composed between 1845 and 1846 when the composer was emerging from a “melancholic” state of mind. During those years, Schumann devoted himself to the music of J.S. Bach, finding solace in the study of counterpoint. The resulting work is a triumphant showcase for orchestra, one that Philharmonia is uniquely equipped to take on, and an ideal way to emerge from a long period of pandemic-induced silence. PBO has shown its extraordinary versatility as an historically-informed ensemble in the presentation of Baroque, Classical, Romantic and new works and the opening concerts further emphasize Philharmonia’s unique place in the landscape.

This program, which opens with the “Unfinished Fugue” from J.S. Bach’s The Art of Fugue, showcases Richard Egarr’s distinctive approach to historically informed performance.

Of this program, Egarr says: “PBO is an historically informed band, but HIP as a way of thinking is absolutely not restricted to just Baroque and Classical music; the changes in both instruments and playing style were (and are!) continuing constantly, certainly all the way through the 19th and into the 20th centuries. If Schumann were attending a concert of his Second Symphony today by a ‘modern’ orchestra he would recognize the ‘shape’ of the string instruments, but would be puzzled by all the metal strings and the cello end-pins, the tuning devices on them all, and perhaps shocked by their volume. He might also be worried by the constant use of vibrato, lack of phrasing, and the absence of expressive devices such as portamento and rubato, which are such an integral part of this music. As for the wind instruments, he would surely have a hissy fit! Generally the physique of all wind and brass instruments has become much more massive, complex and extremely loud — imagine comparing the musculature and bearing of Stan Laurel and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s so exciting to be presenting this music using the appropriate cranky old instruments. I hope that the colors they imbue will carry the audience into Schumann’s gorgeous sound-world.”

This program is made possible with support from The Bernard Osher Foundation.

Listing information:

Schumann’s Reawakened Masterpieces
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
Richard Egarr, Conductor
Shunske Sato, Violin

Thursday, October 14, 8:00 p.m. | Herbst Theatre, San Francisco
Friday, October 15, 7:30 p.m. | Bing Concert Hall, Stanford
Saturday, October 16, 8:00 p.m. | First Congregational Church, Berkeley
Sunday, October 17, 4:00 p.m. | First Congregational Church, Berkeley

Program:

BACH Fuga a 3 Soggetto, “Unfinished Fugue” from The Art of Fugue
SCHUMANN Concerto for Violin in D minor
SCHUMANN Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Op. 61

About Shunske Sato

Shunske Sato is a violinist known for his distinctive and engaging performances on both modern and historical instruments. Equally in demand as concertmaster, chamber musician, soloist and teacher, the diversity of his activities reflect his versatile and resourceful nature.

Resident in the Netherlands, Shunske assumes the double role of artistic leader and concertmaster of the Netherlands Bach Society, and as concertmaster of Concerto Köln. He is often invited as a guest concertmaster for ensembles such as the Freiburger Barockorchester. Since 2013 he has been a faculty member of the Amsterdam Conservatory, where he teaches violin in the context of historical performance practice of eras ranging from baroque to early 20th-century.

He has performed as soloist with American and European orchestras such as the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bavarian Radio Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and National Symphony Orchestra, as well as with orchestras in Japan such as the NHK Philharmonic and Osaka Century Orchestra. Shunske has recorded violin concertos by Haydn and Mozart with Orchestra Libera Classica under the baton of Hidemi Suzuki, and in 2011 gave the first performance of Paganini’s second violin concerto on historical instruments with the Academy of Ancient Music. His discography is extensive and most notably includes works for solo violin by Bach, Telemann, Paganini and Eugène Ysaÿe.

In the roles of both soloist and concertmaster Shunske has worked with numerous conductors, including Ivor Bolton, Richard Egarr, Christopher Hogwood, and Kent Nagano.

In 2010 Shunske was awarded Second prize and the Audience prize at the 17th International Johann Sebastian Bach Competition in Leipzig. He also won the Young Concert Artists award at the age of 12, the youngest ever to date.

Born in Tokyo, Shunske immigrated to the US at the age of four. He studied at The Juilliard School in New York, Conservatoire National de Région in Paris and Hochschule für Musik und Theather in Munich. His teachers include Chin Kim, Dorothy DeLay, Masao Kawasaki, Gérard Poulet, Eiichi Chijiiwa and Mary Utiger.

Click here for PBO biography.

Click here for press images of Richard and the Orchestra.

Click here for Shunske Sato materials.