Subscription tickets are now on sale for the 37th season of concerts given by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (PBO) & Chorale. During the 2016–17 season only five of the six concert programs were given in San Francisco (SF), since the final program required the facilities of Zellerbach Hall on the University of California campus at Berkeley. For the coming season, the full complement of six programs will be given performances in San Francisco; and a Holiday Bonus Concert will be added to the mix. All of those performances will take place at Herbst Theatre, located at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. Specifics are as follows:
Friday, October 6, 8 p.m.: This will be the United States premiere of the first-ever composition co-commissioned by PBO and the London-based Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. The result of this undertaking was The Judas Passion, a full-evening oratorio by Scottish composer Sally Beamish using a libretto by David Harsent based loosely on Gnostic texts. (The world premiere will take place this August at the Edinburgh Festival.) The Philharmonia Chorale (Bruce Lamott, Director) will perform with PBO led by Waverley Fund Music Director Nicholas McGegan. Vocal soloists will be soprano Julia Doyle, tenor Brenden Gunnell, and bass-baritone Roderick Williams.
Friday, November 10, 8 p.m.: Violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock will serve as both soloist and leader in a program entitled Vivaldi in Venice. Antonio Vivaldi will be only one of many composers on the program, the others being visitors influenced by Venetian music-making practices. Those composers will include not only Italians such as Giuseppe Tartini, Pietro Locatelli, and Tomaso Albinoni, but also “tourists,” such as George Frideric Handel.
Friday, December 8, 7 p.m.: This will be the Holiday Bonus Concert performance of Handel’s HMV 56 oratorio Messiah. Once again the Philharmonia Chorale will join PBO led by McGegan. Soloists will be soprano Yulia Van Doren, mezzo Diana Moore, tenor James Reese, and baritone Philip Cutlip.
Thursday, December 14, 7:30 p.m.: The following week McGegan will lead PBO and the Philharmonia Chorale in another Handel oratorio. (For those who have been counting, Philharmonia Baroque has performed more of Handel’s oratorios than any other period instrument orchestra.) The oratorio for this concert will be HWV 59, Joseph and his Brethren, which follows Joseph from his childhood to his rise to power at Pharaoh’s court in Egypt. Moore and Cutlip will again be soloists, joined by soprano Sherezade Panthaki and tenor Nicholas Phan.
Friday, February 9, 8 p.m.: [entire description updated 6/15, 4:45 p.m.: McGegan will lead PBO in a program whose second half will have an unexpected astronomical theme. It will begin with a composition by William Herschel, best known as the astronomer who discovered the planet Uranus. His contribution will be his eighth symphony in C minor, which will then be followed by Joseph Haydn's Hoboken I/43 symphony (named, appropriately enough, “Mercury”) in E-flat major. In the first half of the program, cellist Stephen Isserlis will be guest soloist playing Haydn's Hoboken VIIb/2 concerto in D major, which will be preceded by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's K. 129 symphony in G major.]
Thursday, March 8, 8 p.m.: Richard Egarr will return as guest conductor and organ soloist. The title of the program will be Corelli the Godfather. However, the majority of the selections will be by Handel, including one organ concerto and two concerti grossi. The idea behind the program, however, will be to explore two of Handel’s most admired composers, Arcangelo Corelli and Georg Muffat, the former represented by two of his own concerti grossi and the latter by a sonata.
Friday, April 27, 7:30 p.m.: The title of the final program of the season will be Beethoven Unleashed. The “main event” will be the performance of what is probably Ludwig van Beethoven’s most over-the-top composition, his Opus 80 fantasia for piano, orchestra, and chorus known as the “Choral Fantasy.” Eric Zivian will be the soloist on fortepiano, joined by the Philharmonia Chorale, all led by McGegan. The program will also include Beethoven’s Opus 86 setting of the Mass text in C major and Luigi Cherubini’s “Chant sur la mort de Joseph Haydn.” [added 6/15, 4:55 p.m.: Vocal soloists will be soprano Chantal Santon-Jeffery, mezzo Avery Amereau, tenors Thomas Cooley and David Kurtenbach, and baritone Hadleigh Adams.]
Subscriptions to the full season include all six concerts but not the Holiday Bonus Concert. Tickets for Messiah will have to be ordered separately; but those who subscribe by July 3 will be able to use the “6for5” promo code. This code will mean that the six concerts in the season will be sold for the price of five, and two free CDs of concertos by Corelli will be added to the package. In addition, as in the past, the full season will be split into two equal halves, each of which will be covered by a separate “Trio” subscription package. This season there will also be an "Opera Lovers Trio" of the three vocal program in the six-concert season. Full details and hyperlinks for placing orders can be found on the Subscription Packages Web page on the Philharmonia Baroque Web site. Single tickets will go on sale on August 1, at which time those tickets may be ordered through City Box Office. Further information may be obtained by calling Patron Services at 415-295-1900, which is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.