The genre of baroque music refers to a style of composition that flourished in Europe from about 1600 to 1750, characterized by exuberance and elaborate ornamentation through the use of major and minor tonality (rather than modes). Since 1981, the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra has been dedicated to reproducing historically informed performances on original instruments, recreating the period’s authentic sound. Spark takes you into the rehearsal hall of Philharmonia, the home of conductor Nicholas McGegan to view his extraordinary collection of period and reproduction instruments, and the shop of harpsichord maker John Phillips.

Under the musical direction of Cambridge- and Oxford-educated McGegan since 1985, Philharmonia has repeatedly appeared in the Great Performers Series at New York’s Lincoln Center and has collaborated with the likes of San Francisco Opera Center, Long Beach Opera and Mark Morris Dance Group. Over the years, Philharmonia has released more than 20 CDs and received a Grammy nomination for its live recording of Handel’s oratorio “Susana” in 1990.

The ensemble is made up of roughly 40 musicians who play the works of a variety of Baroque composers, from Handel and Bach to Telemann and Vivaldi. Recognized as “America’s period-instrument orchestra,” Philharmonia has become the foremost early-music ensemble not only in the Bay Area but also in the country. Appearing locally in San Francisco, Berkeley, Palo Alto, San Rafael and Walnut Creek, the ensemble also is in demand around the world, frequently embarking on national and international tours.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra 4 August,2015Spark
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