Richard Egarr
Richard Egarr and Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra | Credit: Frank Wing

For an illustrious local music organization focusing on a historical period, the clock seems to be speeding up for Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.

The then-versus-now example: Against the 35-year tenure of former PBO Music Director Nicholas McGegan, his successor, Richard Egarr, has just announced that he is leaving after four seasons.

Egarr, 59, who began as PBO’s music director in 2020, will leave at the end of the 2023–2024 season. “Richard has a young family who are based in Amsterdam. This decision allows him to spend more time conducting in Europe, closer to his family,” PBO Board President Doug Tanner said.

Egarr said: “I am extremely proud of my time with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and all we have achieved, including finding new ways to communicate during the pandemic and attracting and engaging with new audiences.”

Coming through the worst of the pandemic, the orchestra regrouped and appeared at Herbst Theater in June 2021, but Egarr couldn’t get through COVID travel restrictions, so Augusta McKay Lodge stepped in, leading the ensemble as concertmaster and soloist.

Richard Egarr
Richard Egarr | Credit: Marco Borggreve

In announcing his stepping down, Egarr said of PBO’s new Chorale director: “I’m thrilled that Valérie Sainte-Agathe is in place to lead the Chorale, and I look forward to capping off my tenure with an outstanding series of programs that includes our October season opener, “Garden of Good and Evil,” which juxtaposes works by Handel and living composers Errollyn Wallen and composer-in-residence Tarik O’Regan.”

A committee, to include members of the PBO board and staff, as well as members of the orchestra, is yet to be convened to begin the search for a new music director.

Egarr’s resignation comes two months after PBO Executive Director Courtney Beck announced that she would be leaving the organization at the end of May. She said, “Sixteen years is a long time to stay at any organization these days, and in my eight years as executive director, I’m deeply proud of the heightened focus on innovation that yielded so much incredible art.” Beck is now executive director of Alonzo King LINES Ballet.

At PBO, the question “who is in charge?” was answered by Isaac Bunch, the orchestra’s general manager, who told SF Classical Voice:

“PBO’s board of directors (led by Board President Doug Tanner) are in charge of the organization. We expect an interim executive director to be hired soon, and until then, as general manager, I am overseeing most day-to-day operations. I am grateful for the support that Doug and the board are providing to our staff during this time of transition.”

Asked about the immediate effect of Egarr’s resignation, Bunch said:

“Richard’s decision does not impact our 2023–2024 season; it will proceed per our announcement earlier this year. We encourage the Bay Area community to experience these amazing programs and to join us in giving Richard a warm send-off as he concludes his tenure as our music director.”