Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (= PBO) is a San Francisco-based orchestra dedicated to historically-informed performance of Baroque, Classical and early-Romantic music on original instruments. The PBO was founded in 1981 by harpsichordist, teacher and early music pioneer, Laurette Goldberg (1932-2005).
Under the leadership of Nicholas McGegan, its Music Director since 1985, PBO has become "an ensemble for early music as fine as any in the world today" (Los Angeles Times). The PBO performs a subscription season in four cities in the San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco, Berkeley, Lafayette, and Palo Alto), and is regularly heard on tour in the USA and internationally. In addition to Nicholas McGegan, the PBO has welcomed eminent guest conductors to its podium including William Christie, Andrew Parrott, Jordi Savall, Gustav Leonhardt, Monica Huggett and Stanley Ritchie.
Under the direction of Nicholas McGegan, PBO has made several USA tours, each of which included an appearance on the Great Performers Series at Lincoln Center. In March 1998 PBO performed George Frideric Handel's Saul and Hercules at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and in 1999 the PBO made its European debut at the International Handel Festival in Göttingen, Germany, with return appearances in 2001, 2002 and 2005. In August 2002, the PBO made its Mostly Mozart Festival debut (Lincoln Center) with five performances including a concert featuring G.F. Handel's newly-discovered Gloria in excelsis Deo and four performances of G.F. Handel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato with Mark Morris Dance Group. A return engagement in August 2003 featured the PBO in the Festival's first fully-staged opera, Mozart's Il re pastore.
The PBO made its debuts at Carnegie Hall (NY) and Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles) in February 2005. In August 2005 the PBO debuted at the BBC Proms, Snape Maltings (UK) and The Concertgebouw in Amsterdam as part of its first-ever European tour. In 2006, the PBO presented its first commissioned work, To Hell and Back, a one-act concert opera by Jake Heggie on the myth of Perspehone, written for Baroque instruments and singers Isabel Bayrakdarian and Patti LuPone.
In 1990, PBO began its extremely successful collaboration with the Mark Morris Dance Group. In May of that year, the PBO appeared at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with the Dance Group in Morris' production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. Subsequent performances have included a program of mixed works featuring Antonio Vivaldi's Gloria; G.F. Handel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, presented again in March of 2000 and September of 2003 by UC Berkeley's Cal Performances; and the American premiere of Morris' production of Rameau's ballet-opera Platée, which was the tour de force of the 1998 Berkeley Festival. Most recently, the PBO collaborated with the Dance Group in the USA premiere of Morris's highly-acclaimed new production of Purcell's King Arthur.
Among the most-recorded period-instrument orchestras in the USA or in Europe, PBO has made twenty-five highly praised recordings for Harmonia Mundi, Reference Recordings and BMG and recently released its first self-produced 2-CD set of music of Alessandro Scarlatti on the Avie label. The PBO's live recording of G.F. Handel's oratorio Susanna received a Grammy nomination and a Gramophone Magazine Award for best Baroque vocal recording in 1991. In 2005 PBO began releasing a series of archival CD's (Baroque, Classical and early-Romantic repertoire) exclusively over the Internet in partnership with Magnatune.com. The PBO's most recent release, a live recording of L.v. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Opferlied, is currently available on iTunes.
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra was named "Ensemble of the Year" for 2004 by Musical America. It is represented exclusively in North America by California Artists Management.