Named Musical America's "Ensemble of the Year" for 2004, San Francisco's Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra has been dedicated to historically-informed performance of Baroque, Classical and early-Romantic music on original instruments since its inception in 1981.
Under the leadership of Nicholas McGegan, its Music Director since 1985, Philharmonia has become "an ensemble for early music as fine as any in the world today" (Los Angeles Times). The Orchestra performs a subscription season in four cities in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is regularly heard on tour in the United States and internationally. In addition to Mr. McGegan, the Orchestra has welcomed eminent guest conductors to its podium including William Christie, Andrew Parrott, Jordi Savall, Gustav Leonhardt, Monica Huggett and Stanley Ritchie.
Under the direction of Mr. McGegan, Philharmonia has made several United States tours, each of which included an appearance on the Great Performers Series at Lincoln Center. The Orchestra made its debuts at Carnegie Hall (NY) and Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles) in February 2005. In August of 2005 the Orchestra debuted at the BBC Proms, Snape Maltings (UK) and The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam as part of its first-ever European tour.
In August 2002, the Orchestra made its Mostly Mozart Festival debut (Lincoln Center) with five performances including a concert featuring Handel's newly-discovered Gloria in excelsis Deo and four performances of Handel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato with Mark Morris Dance Group. A return engagement in August 2003 featured the Orchestra in the Festival's first fully-staged opera, Mozart's Il re pastore. In March of 1998 Philharmonia performed Handel's Saul and Hercules at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and in 1999 the Orchestra made its European debut at the International Handel Festival in Göttingen, Germany, with return appearances in 2001, 2002 and 2005. In 2006, the Orchestra presented its first commissioned work, To Hell and Back, a one-act concert opera by Jake Heggie on the myth of Perspehone, written for Baroque instruments and singers Isabel Bayrakdarian and Patti LuPone.
In 1990, Philharmonia began its extremely successful collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Group. In May of that year, the Orchestra appeared at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with the Dance Group in Morris' production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. Subsequent performances have included a program of mixed works featuring Vivaldi's Gloria; Handel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, presented again in March of 2000 and September of 2003 by UC Berkeley's Cal Performances; and the American premiere of Morris' production of Rameau's ballet-opera Platée, which was the tour de force of the 1998 Berkeley Festival. Most recently, the Orchestra collaborated with the Dance Group in the U.S. premiere of Morris's highly-acclaimed new production of Purcell's King Arthur.
Among the most-recorded period-instrument orchestras in the United States or in Europe, Philharmonia has made twenty-five highly praised recordings for Harmonia Mundi, Reference Recordings and BMG and recently released its first self-produced 2-CD set of music of Alessandro Scarlatti on the Avie label. The Orchestra's live recording of Handel's oratorio Susanna received a Grammy nomination and a Gramophone Magazine Award for best Baroque vocal recording in 1991.
In 2005 PBO began releasing a series of archival CDs (Baroque, Classical and early-Romantic repertoire) exclusively over the Internet in partnership with Magnatune.com. The Orchestra's most recent release, a live recording of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Opferlied, is currently available on iTunes.
The Orchestra was founded by harpsichordist and early music pioneer Laurette Goldberg.
Philharmonia is represented exclusively in North America by California Artists Management.
Musician photography by Paul Trapani
Instrument photography by Frank Wing