HANDEL “Overture” from Atalanta
HAYDN “London” in D Major Finale: Spiritoso from Symphony No. 104
Nicholas McGegan Live at City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
MOZART and PROKOFIEV with the SWR Symphonieorchester and Gil Shaham
VIVALDI Concerto for Strings, RV 114
VIVALDI Gloria, R 589
ANNA CLYNE Concerto for Mandolin and Strings, “Three Sisters”
SCARLATTI The Glory of Spring with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale
SESSIONS: A Tale of Two Keyboards
As he embarks on his sixth decade on the podium, Nicholas McGegan — long hailed as “one of the finest baroque conductors of his generation” (London Independent) and “an expert in 18th-century style” (The New Yorker) — is recognized for his probing and revelatory explorations of music of all periods. The 2019/20 season marks the final year of his 34 year tenure as Music Director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale and he is also Principal Guest Conductor of the Pasadena Symphony.
McGegan has established the San Francisco-based Philharmonia as one of the world’s leading period-performance ensembles, with notable appearances at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the London Proms, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and the International Handel Festival, Göttingen. One of their greatest successes was the fully-staged modern-day premiere of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s 1745 opera-ballet Le Temple de la Gloire. A recording of the live performance was released in summer 2018, marking the 10th album produced on the Philharmonia Baroque Productions label. As part of their initiative of performing new music written for period instruments, PBO gave the world premiere of Sally Beamish’s The Judas Passion in 2017 and more recently presented the completion of a PBO-commissioned song cycle by Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw featuring mezzo Anne Sofie von Otter at Alice Tully Hall.
Highlighting PBO’s 2019/20 season is the world premiere of a new piece by Caroline Shaw, The Listeners a well as a fully staged production of Leclair’s Scylla et Glaucus. Major Handel works this season include Judas Maccabaeus and Aci, Galatea e Polifemo. McGegan also conducts a special program featuring violinist Alana Youssefian.
Throughout his career, McGegan has defined an approach to period style that sets the current standard: intelligent, infused with joy, and never dogmatic. Under his leadership Philharmonia expanded its repertoire into the Romantic Era and beyond. Calling the group’s recent recording of the Brahms Serenades “a truly treasurable disc,” James R. Oestreich in The New York Times made special note of the performance’s “energy and spirit.” The recording, said Voix des Arts, offers “evidence that ‘period’ instruments are in no way inhibited in terms of tonal amplitude and beauty. These are … exceptionally beautifully played performances.”
McGegan’s ability to engage players and audiences alike has made him a pioneer in broadening the reach of historically informed practice beyond the world of period ensembles to conventional symphonic forces. His guest-conducting appearances with major orchestras — including the New York, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong Philharmonics; the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Toronto, Sydney, and New Zealand Symphonies; the Cleveland and the Philadelphia Orchestras; and the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Scottish Chamber Orchestra — often feature Baroque repertoire alongside Classical, Romantic, 20th-century and even brand-new works: Mendelssohn, Sibelius, Britten, Bach and Handel with the Utah Symphony; Poulenc and Mozart with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra; Mahler and Mozart with the Pasadena Symphony Orchestra; and the premiere of Stephen Hough’s Missa Mirabilis with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, paired with Haydn, Brahms and Mendelssohn. His position in Pasadena provides the opportunity to conduct a wider range of his favorite repertoire, including Dvořák, Britten, Elgar, Mahler, Brahms and Wagner.
His 19/20 guest appearances in North America include his annual return to St. Louis Symphony as well as returns to the Cleveland Orchestra and the Houston, Baltimore, New Jersey, and Pasadena Symphonies. He also resumes his long tradition of concerts at the Hollywood Bowl with an all-Mozart program in fall 2019, and he rejoins the Los Angeles Philharmonic later in the season for a program of Rameau, Mozart, and Schubert. Abroad, McGegan returns to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and makes guest appearances with the Szczecin and Wroclaw Philharmonics. Summer festivals include Aspen and La Jolla in San Diego. Finally, Mr. McGegan returns to the Juilliard School to conduct multiple concerts in New York and takes one of those programs, Handel’s Rinaldo, abroad to Göttingen.
Active in opera as well as the concert hall, McGegan was principal conductor of Sweden’s perfectly preserved 18th-century Drottningholm Theater from 1993 to 1996, Artistic Director and conductor at the Göttingen Handel Festival for 20 years (1991-2011), and Principal Guest Conductor at Scottish Opera in the 1990s. Guest appearances have brought him to the podium at Covent Garden, San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Washington. Mr. McGegan has enjoyed a long collaboration with groundbreaking choreographer Mark Morris, notably the premiere performances of Morris’s production of Rameau’s Platée at the Edinburgh Festival, and Handel’s Acis and Galatea and L’Allegro at venues including the Ravinia Festival, the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York, and Cal Performances in Berkeley.
McGegan’s prolific discography includes more than 100 releases spanning five decades. Having recorded more than 50 albums of of Handel, McGegan has explored the depths of the composer’s output with a dozen oratorios and close to twenty of his operas. Under its own label, Philharmonia Baroque Productions (PBP), Philharmonia has recently released almost a dozen acclaimed albums of Handel, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Brahms, Haydn, Beethoven, and more. McGegan’s latest release with PBO is Handel’s rarely performed Joseph and his Brethren. Since the 1980s, Nic has released more than 20 recordings with Hungary’s Capella Savaria on the Hungaroton label, including groundbreaking opera and oratorio recordings of repertoire by Handel, Monteverdi, Scarlatti, Telemann and Vivaldi. Recently, the collaboration has produced albums of Kraus, Mendelssohn, Schubert, a 2-CD set of the complete Mozart violin concerti, and Haydn’s Symphonies 79, 80, and 81. McGegan has also released two recent albums with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra: Josef Mysliveček’s Complete Music for Keyboard with soloist Clare Hammond and an album of early horn concertos with soloist Alec Frank-Gemmill. Grammy nominations include Handel’s Susanna for Best Choral Performance and Haydn’s Symphonies 104, 88 & 101 for Best Orchestral Performance, both with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.
Mr. McGegan is committed to the next generation of musicians, frequently conducting and coaching students in residencies and engagements at Yale University, the Juilliard School, Harvard University, the Colburn School, Aspen Music Festival and School, Sarasota Music Festival, and the Music Academy of the West. Most recently, McGegan gave a special performance related to a new exhibit at the Yale Center for British Art, William Hunter and the Anatomy of the Modern Museum. He has been awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Music by the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; an honorary professorship at Georg-August University, Göttingen; and in 2016 was the Christoph Wolff Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Harvard. McGegan’s fun and informative lectures have delighted audiences at Juilliard, Yale Center for British Art, American Handel Society, and San Francisco Conservatory.
Born in England, Nicholas McGegan was educated at Cambridge and Oxford and taught at the Royal College of Music, London. He was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for 2010 “for services to music overseas.” His awards also include the Halle Handel Prize; an honorary professorship at Georg-August University, Göttingen; the Order of Merit of the State of Lower Saxony (Germany); the Medal of Honour of the City of Göttingen; and an official Nicholas McGegan Day, declared by the Mayor of San Francisco in recognition of his distinguished work with Philharmonia.