Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
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San Francisco's Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra is one of the oldest and most renowned ensembles in the U.S. that specializes in historically oriented performance of music from earlier eras, using original instruments. Founded in 1981 by harpsichordist Laurette Goldberg, the orchestra has been led since 1985 by music director Nicholas McGegan. In the words of the group's mission statement, period instrument performance involves more than just using historically appropriate instruments; "it also means performing music with a passion, joy, and vitality that provide a meaningful contemporary artistic experience for today’s audience." The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra added an associated Philharmonia Baroque Chorale in 1996, and in 2016 established a New Music for Old Instruments initiative to commission new works for historical instruments. The orchestra plays a six-concert season at various locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. The group has also performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Tanglewood Music Festival as well as other major American venues, and it has toured the U.K. and Europe, with an appearance in 2005 at the BBC Proms and a collaboration with the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles on the modern premiere of Rameau's opera-ballet Le Temple de la Gloire in 2017, released as a recording in 2018. The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra's long recording career began in the 1980s, when they attracted the attention of the multinational historical-performance specialist label Harmonia Mundi. With flutist Janet See, they recorded an album of until-then largely underexposed Vivaldi flute concertos in 1988. As the group's repertory has developed, it has come to include Romantic music in addition to Baroque and Classical works, and when the orchestra formed its own label, one of its first releases was a recording of Berlioz's Les nuits d'été in 2011, taken from earlier live recordings with the late mezzo soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. A performance of Brahms serenades followed in 2012. Top European conductors who have appeared as guests with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra have included Jordi Savall, Gustav Leonhardt, Andrew Parrott, Richard Egarr, and the American-French opera conductor William Christie.