Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Music Director Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale begin the 2011-2012 Season in August of 2011 with a prestigious Summer Festival Tour including performances of Handel’s Orlando at the Ravinia Festival, Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival, and Tanglewood in addition to a special concert with the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. The Orchestra and Chorale first perform in the Bay Area next season at Zellerbach Hall with the Mark Morris Dance Group in three performances on September 15th–17th of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, conducted by Mark Morris and featuring mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and baritone Philip Cutlip.

Six artists will be making debuts in the 2011-2012 season including internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe in Dido and Aeneas. Also making their debuts during the Orchestra’s subscription season this year are Italian conductor Ottavio Dantone, music director of Ravenna’s Accademia Bizantina; British conductor and harpsichordist Richard Egarr, who serves as music director of the Academy of Ancient Music; mezzo-soprano Vivica Genaux in a program featuring arias written for famed castrato Farinelli; and Houston tenor James Taylor, currently one of the most sought after tenors for Baroque music.  Countertenor Clint van der Linde performs for the first time with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in the tour performances of Orlando.


Nicholas McGegan is known for innovative programming and a passionate commitment to discovering new and rarely performed works from the Baroque repertoire.  Of the 40 works scheduled for performance during the 2011-2012 season, more than half will be first performances by the ensemble. Musical highlights of the season include a newly completed Mozart Horn Concerto featuring Principal Horn player R.J. Kelley; an orchestral suite from Rameau’s La Guirlande, a one-act ballet that spurred the current Rameau revival when performed in 1903;  the return of internationally acclaimed recorder specialist Marion Verbruggen in concertos by Vivaldi and Sammartini for alto and soprano recorder, respectively; Bach’s monumental B Minor Mass, conducted by Nicholas McGegan for the first time with Philharmonia Baroque; an English Baroque program featuring theater music of native sons Matthew Locke, Henry Purcell, Thomas Arne, and William Lawes in addition to England’s beloved imported son, George Frideric Handel; and the return of acclaimed cellist Steven Isserlis in a musical program that confirms Philharmonia Baroque’s embrace of music beyond the confines of the 17th and 18th centuries, including Schumann’s Cello Concerto, Mendelssohn’s The Fair Melusine and Bizet’s Symphony in C Major, performed in the U.S. for the first time on period instruments.  The season will end with Handel’s rarely performed masterpiece, Alexander’s Feast, also known as “The Power of Music,” conducted by Nicholas McGegan and featuring the Philharmonia Baroque Chorale and soloists Dominique LaBelle, James Taylor, and Philip Cutlip.


For the third season, Philharmonia Baroque will offer both Family and Student Concerts.  The brainchild of Lisa Grodin, violinist with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and its education director since 2009, the concerts offer very different introductory experiences to Baroque music.  Once again, these concerts will provide a blend of education (through talks and demonstrations) and enjoyment, offering opportunities for audience interaction.  A Student Concert on Friday, November 18 at 1:30 PM at Herbst Theatre will feature repertoire for the recorder performed by Marion Verbruggen.  She will also perform in the Family Concert the following day, on Saturday, November 19 at 4 PM at First Congregational Church in Berkeley.  A second Student Concert will be announced shortly.


In addition, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra brings music into concert halls, classrooms, and communities though a variety of education and outreach programs reaching upwards of 25,000 students and adults each year.  Outreach activities include Family and Youth Programs, as well as Pre-Concert Programs. Educational programs for the middle and secondary school levels include In-School Programs and a Mobile Mentor Program, in addition to the Student Concerts.  They are also partnered with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music to provide Master Classes and Lectures which the public is welcome to attend.
In conjunction with the opening of the 2011-2012 season, Philharmonia Baroque Productions will release the third disc in the recently announced recording project marking the institution’s return to commercial recording – an all-Vivaldi disc, featuring Philharmonia Baroque Concertmaster Elizabeth Blumenstock, includes Le Quattro stagioni (The Four Seasons), Op. 8, Nos.1-4, Concerto for violin, in E minor,  RV 277, “Il favorito,” Concerto for violin in E major, RV 271 “L’amoroso,” and Concerto for violin in B-flat major, RV 375.  Two discs will have been released prior to the start of the 2011-2012 season.  The first disc in the recording project, scheduled for release on March 8, 2011, features the late mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson performing Berlioz’ Le nuits d’èté and Handel opera arias.  The second, scheduled for release in May 2011, will include Haydn Symphonies Nos. 104 “London,” 88, and 101 “The Clock.” These discs will be released on the Orchestra’s own label, Philharmonia Baroque Productions, through harmonia mundi, and will also be available for digital download.

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Music Director Nicholas McGegan stated, “I’m thrilled to present to Bay Area audiences the great variety of music – from the 17th century through Bizet – that will comprise my 26th season with Philharmonia Baroque.  The season will be filled with masterworks, familiar ones like Bach’s B Minor Mass, as well as pieces we will be premiering in the U.S. on period instruments, such as Bizet’s Symphony in C Major.  It is so exciting for the orchestra, and for me, to continue to innovate within the period instrument movement – performing a work that Bizet never heard during his lifetime on the instruments for which he wrote the work.”

“Entering our fourth decade, we are so proud of Philharmonia Baroque’s unequaled level of artistic expression, of our innovative programming, and especially of the special connection we make with you, our audience, our friends, our family,” said Executive Director Peter Pastreich.  “I know that next season we will bring you great musical experiences, and the joy of hearing great masterpieces performed as near to the way their composers would have heard them as can be achieved.”

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at:

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