The mission of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra is to present great music that enriches lives, inspires passion for period-instrument performance, connects audiences to history, preserves tradition, and celebrates creative genius. Using authentic instruments and stylistic performance practices of the baroque to early-romantic periods, the Orchestra engages audiences through performance, tours, education, community outreach, and recordings of the highest standard.
Philharmonia’s pursuit of its mission is based upon three fundamental convictions:
- Great music is universal. It is a timeless medium that impacts quality of life on an emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual level.
- Period-instrument performance, executed at the highest level, creates a distinct sound and singular listening experience. Historically-informed performance means more than playing music in the style in which it was written; it also means performing music with a passion, joy, and vitality that provide a meaningful contemporary artistic experience for today’s audience. In addition, this experience enriches appreciation of history and provides a valuable perspective in preserving and understanding the orchestral tradition.
- The opportunity for audiences today to hear great works and authentic instruments from the past is, in itself, a legacy that must be preserved for the benefit of future generations.
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 Music Director Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque has been named Ensemble of the Year by Musical America.
The Orchestra performs an annual subscription series in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is regularly heard on tour in the United States and internationally. The Orchestra has its own professional chorus, the Philharmonia Chorale, directed by Bruce Lamott, and welcomes talented guest artists such as mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, countertenor David Daniels, conductor Jordi Savall, fortepianist Emmanuel Ax, conductor Masaaki Suzuki, and violinist Rachel Podger.
The Orchestra has had numerous successful collaborations with celebrated composers and choreographers. Philharmonia premiered its first commissioned work, a one-act opera by Jake Heggie entitled To Hell and Back, in November 2006. In collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Group, Philharmonia Baroque gave the U.S. premieres of Morris’s highly acclaimed productions of Henry Purcell’s King Arthur and Jean-Philippe Rameau’s ballet-opera Platée.
Among the most-recorded period-instrument orchestras in the United States or in Europe, Philharmonia Baroque has made thirty-four highly praised recordings - including its Gramophone award-winning recording of Handel’s Susanna - for harmonia mundi, Reference Recordings, and BMG.
In 2011, Philharmonia launched its own label, Philharmonia Baroque Productions, with an acclaimed recording of Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’été and Handel arias featuring mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. The second CD release, Haydn Symphonies No. 104 "London", No. 88, No. 101 "The Clock," has been nominated for a GRAMMY Award for Best Orchestral Performance.
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra was founded by harpsichordist and early music pioneer Laurette Goldberg.