Passing the Baton (and Harpsichord) at Philharmonia Baroque | Modern Society of USA

Passing the Baton (and Harpsichord) at Philharmonia Baroque

Passing the Baton (and Harpsichord) at Philharmonia Baroque

Many orchestras pass their batons from one conductor to another. Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, based in San Francisco and one of the country’s most respected period-instrument ensembles, will be passing its harpsichord, too.

The orchestra announced on Thursday that its next music director would be the conductor (and harpsichordist) Richard Egarr, who will succeed the conductor (and harpsichordist) Nicholas McGegan, stepping down from the post in 2020, after 35 years.

Mr. Egarr is currently the music director of the Academy of Ancient Music in Britain, where he took over from its founder, Christopher Hogwood, in 2006. He will step down from that post — where his tenure included performing Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” in Libya — in 2021.

Mr. Egarr said in a telephone interview that he looks forward to leading the Philharmonia Baroque, which he has conducted three times since 2012 — and which he said that, for all its differences, also bore some resemblances to the Academy of Ancient Music.

“What is similar is there is a very free spirit,” said Mr. Egarr, 55, who was born in Lincoln, England, and who now lives in Amsterdam with his family. He will begin in the 2020-21 season as music director designate, and officially assume the title the following season.

Mr. Egarr said that he looked forward to exploring a wide array of repertoire — including early-17th-century works by composers including Monteverdi; Bach’s passions and B-minor Mass, which he said he would like to perform with the Philharmonia Chorale; and some Romantic pieces, such as Schumann’s Requiem, a rarity he recently led.

“It has had terrible press ever since it was written,” he said, “but it’s actually a little masterpiece.”

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