February 11, 2020
Two new names stand out on Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale’s 2020–2021 season, announced Wednesday, Feb. 4. The first is Richard Egarr, PBO’s next music director, taking over for Nicholas McGegan, who’s led the ensemble for more than 30 years. The second is Tchaikovsky, not a composer in the orchestra’s wheelhouse until now, but a welcome addition to PBO’s always-expanding lineup.
That Tchaikovsky program, featuring the composer’s Rococo Variations and Fourth Symphony, takes place in April 2021, the season closer; Egarr conducts and cellist Nicolas Altstaedt is soloist in four performances. Between then and now, PBO treads more familiar ground, but with plenty of twists and variations along the way.
The 2020–2021 season opens on Sept. 13 with a re-creation of Beethoven’s famous four-hour-long 1808 concert, which saw the premieres of, among other works, the composer’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. It’s a Beethoven concert in a year of Beethoven concerts, though more ambitious than the rest; it moves historical performance beyond the piece and into programming itself. And it’s a special event for PBO, one night only.
The season’s opera offering is in collaboration with composer Matthew Aucoin, director Zack Winokur, and their American Modern Opera Company. The staged production, titled The No One’s Rose, interpolates new compositions by Aucoin with music by J.S. Bach and more. Four performances, Oct. 7–11, feature a who’s who of the young opera world: Julia Bullock, Anthony Roth Costanzo, and more.
PBO expands on a partnership with Juilliard415, the school’s period-instrument ensemble, in two February programs. Musicians from both groups take on Georg Muffat’s Missa in labore requies for the season gala concert, Feb. 12. Add Haydn’s Mass for Troubled Times for two more performances, Feb. 13–14.
The orchestra is on home turf in a Purcell-heavy program of English Baroque music in November. More Purcell, plus Handel and Benjamin Britten, are on the bill for February. Violinist Rachel Podger leads the orchestra in symphonies and concertos by Mozart and Haydn in March. And Handel’s Messiah returns in December, that staple of holiday programming, conducted by Egarr this year.