In February of 2014, Philharmonia Baroque launched a new series of events called SESSIONS. The goal was to find an engaging way to acquaint audiences with the music that would be performed during Philharmonic Baroque concerts in a more casual setting than that of a concert hall. The basic idea was to use dialogue, multimedia presentation, and performance to acquaint the audience with selections from a subscription program, all within a 90-minute duration (which would then be followed by a reception offering free wine and, hopefully, lively conversation).
Now called PBO SESSIONS, the first event in this series will be held in conjunction with the visit of Richard Egarr to the podium of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. This will be Egarr’s first visit since January of 2012, which was distinguished by his energetic personality that did much to engage the audience in his perceptive survey of music from the English Baroque period. This season he will shift his attention entirely to Johann Sebastian Bach and four of the six “Brandenburg” concertos. These will be BWV 1046 (the first) in F major, BWV 1048 (the third) in G major, BWV 1049 (the fourth) also in G major, and BWV 1050 (the fifth) in D major. As he did in 2012, Egarr will conduct from the harpsichord and will perform the virtuoso solo harpsichord part in BWV 1050.
Egarr will lead the first PBO SESSIONS event of the season, which is entitled The Royal Brandenburgs. The objective will be to acquaint the audience with the music itself, the circumstances under which the concertos were composed, the Royal Margrave to whom they were dedicated, and the century that elapsed before these compositions achieved exposure and subsequent popularity. The performance part of the evening will offer selections from three of the concertos, BWV 1048, BWV 1049, and BWV 1050. Through the latter the audience will become acquainted with Egarr’s skills as a harpsichordist as well as a conductor.
The original venue for this series was the SFJAZZ Center, which was also where the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra was giving concerts during the renovation of Herbst Theatre. Last season, however, the venue for SESSIONS was shifted to the ODC Theater in the Mission. This turned out to be a more intimate space than Miner Auditorium, and the brick walls of the ODC space provided much more conducive acoustics without having to resort to artificial amplification. The above photograph should give some sense of the nature of the space.
This latest installment of PBO SESSIONS is being presented jointly with KDFC. It will take place on Monday, November 9, beginning at 8 p.m. The ODC Theater is located at 3153 17th Street. All tickets are $25, but there is a limit of six tickets per order. PBO has set up its own Web page for online purchase, as well as an event page that provides further background information.