Friday, November 4, 2016

Philharmonia Baroque will Continue Season with Rarely-Performed Handel Oratorio

Tonight is the second concert performance by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (PBO) in San Francisco for the ensemble’s 2016–17 season. So this is probably a good time to prepare for what will come next. The third program of the season will be the first in which the Philharmonia Baroque Chorale, under its Director Bruce Lamott, will join forces with PBO. There will be only one work on the program, George Frideric Handel’s HWV 64, his rarely-performed oratorio in three parts, Joshua. Librettist Thomas Morell took the Book of Joshua, in which Joshua leads the Children of Israel across the Jordan River and conquers the Canaanites at the Battle of Jericho, as his point of departure. However, Morell extended the narrative to include a love story between Caleb’s daughter Achsah and the young solider Othniel. These two “young lovers” will be sung by soprano Yulia Van Doren and countertenor Daniel Taylor, respectively. Tenor Thomas Cooley will sing the title role. Other solos will be taken by soprano Gabrielle Haigh and baritone William Berger.

While HWV 64 is seldom performed, it includes at least one familiar piece of music. Handel originally composed “See the Conq’ring Hero Comes” for Joshua; and it was as popular in 1747 as it is today. Thus, while he had written his HWV 63 Judas Maccabaeus the previous year in 1746, Handel decided he would “reinforce” it by adding “See the Conq’ring Hero.” Since HWV 63 enjoyed more popularity that HWV 64 did, we now associate this chorus with the oratorio to which it was added, rather than the one for which it was written.

The San Francisco performance of this concert will take place at 8 p.m. on Thursday, December 1. The venue will be Herbst Theatre, located on the southwest corner of Van Ness Avenue and McAllister Street. (For those taking public transportation, this is conveniently located at bus stops for both north-south and east-west lines.) Ticket prices range from $27 to $108. City Box Office has an event page for online purchase that shows which prices apply to which sections of the house and current availability in each of those sections.

HWV 64 will also serve as the topic for the first PBO SESSIONS event of the season. Selections from the oratorio will be performed by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra & Chorale as well as special guest vocalists. In addition Lamott will provide the audience is valuable background material while in a conversation with KDFC's Hoyt Smith. The evening will then conclude with a complimentary glass of wine from WineWise and an opportunity to engage both musicians and presenters in further conversation.

This event will take place on Tuesday, December 6, beginning at 8 p.m. The venue will be the San Francisco Jewish Community Center, located at 3200 California Street on the northwest corner of Presidio Street. Seating will be general admission, and all tickets will be $25. Ticket may be purchased online in advance through an event page on the PBO Web site.

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