About Boston Baroque
America’s premiere period-instrument orchestra!
Boston Baroque is the first permanent Baroque orchestra established in North America and according to Fanfare Magazine, is widely regarded as “one of the world’s premier period-instrument bands.” The Boston-based ensemble produces lively, emotionally charged, groundbreaking performances of Baroque and Classical works for today’s audiences performed on instruments and using performance techniques that reflect the eras in which the music was composed.
Founded in 1973 as “Banchetto Musicale” by Music Director Martin Pearlman, Boston Baroque’s orchestra is composed of some of the finest period-instrument players in the United States, and are frequently joined by the ensemble’s professional chorus and by world-class, top instrumental and vocal soloists from around the globe. The ensemble presents an exciting annual subscription series consisting of five programs performed at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall in Boston, Massachusetts and also at Harvard University’s Sanders Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts for their annual New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day festivities.
Boston Baroque’s many career milestones include the American premiere of Rameau’s Zoroastre in honor of his 300th birthday in 1983, a Mozart opera series including The Marriage of Figaro and Così fan tutte as well as the American period-instrument premieres of Mozart’s Don Giovanni in 1986 and The Magic Flute in 1989. The orchestra also presented a revelatory exploration of the complryrBeethoven symphonies on period instruments. In 1998 – 1999, the ensemble gave the modern premiere of The Philosopher’s Stone, a singspiel newly discovered to include music by Mozart which shed fresh light on his canon.
In recent years, Boston Baroque presented Boston’s first complete cycle of the surviving operas of Monteverdi with new performing editions by Martin Pearlman of L’incoronazione di Poppea and Il ritorno d’Ulisse and an internationally acclaimed series of Handel operas which include Agrippina, Alcina, Xerxes, Giulio Cesare, Semele, and Amadigi di Gaula. In May 2012, their performances of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, which incorporated dancers and original choreography, were met with outstanding critical acclaim.
Boston Baroque on Tour
Boston Baroque has performed at major music centers across the United States including Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine and festivals at Ravinia and Tanglewood. In reviews of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 at the New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 2010, the New York Times called the performance “vital and ebullient” and Opera News said that it was “an experience not soon to be forgotten.” Boston Baroque was also the first period-instrument ensemble to be invited to participate at the famous Casals Festival in Puerto Rico and the ensemble made its European debut in 2003, performing Handel’s Messiah at the prestigious Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival in Poland. In late March and early April 2015, the ensemble returned to Poland for the 2015 Festival with performances of stops in Warsaw and Katowice featuring performances of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 in Warsaw and Handel’s Messiah in Katowice.
Boston Baroque Recordings
Boston Baroque reaches an international audience with its twenty-six acclaimed recordings. These recordings — of which Fanfare magazine wrote, “Each one is an incomparable gem”—are heard by millions on classical radio stations in North America and Europe. In 2012, the orchestra became the first American orchestra to record with the highly-regarded UK audiophile label, Linn Records and their release of The Creation received great critical acclaim.
In April 2013, in the midst of the Boston Marathon bombings, the ensemble recorded Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Symphony No. 102 in B flat for Linn Records and the release received many wonderful reviews, including one from The New York Times: “Boston Baroque, led by Martin Pearlman, performs the stormy opening movement with rhythmic verve and intensity. A fine quartet of soloists, including the bright lyric soprano Mary Wilson and the magnanimous bass-baritone Kevin Deas, jostle for the spotlight with the orchestra, which shines in the rambunctious Symphony No. 102.” International Record Review‘s Graham Rogers stated: “Martin Pearlman and his driven Boston forces revel in Haydn’s dark, turbulent, dangerous atmosphere. Menacing trumpet calls slice through the texture of urgent hyperactive strings and searingly intense monotone chorus. A gripping, unsettling experience, this performance leaves no doubt that the Mass is a product of wartime.”
In April 2014, the orchestra recorded Monteverdi’s rarely performed opera, Il Ritorno d’Ullise in patria in a salute to Boston Baroque’s 40th anniversary.
Boston Baroque’s recordings have received five Grammy® Award Nominations: their 1992 release of Handel’s Messiah, their 1998 release of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, their 2000 release of Bach’s Mass in B Minor, their 2014 release of Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ullise in patria, and their 2017 release of Biber’s Mystery Sonatas.
Opera Britannia said of the orchestra’s 2010 release of Mozart Arias for Male Soprano, with soloist Michael Maniaci, “A disc of this importance should be a prerequisite for all vocal connoisseurs and admirers of Mozart alike.” Of the 2009 release of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Gramophone wrote, “Boston Baroque’s playing combines supreme technical precision with unexpected psychological depth.” The magazine also cited the Bach Orchestral Suites, which was picked as an Editor’s Choice, for their “virtuosity and élan.” Fanfare called Boston Baroque’s recording of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos, “A set to treasure . . . it belongs on the shelf of every lover of the Baroque.”
The premiere recording of The Philosopher’s Stone was an Opera News Editor’s Choice and was shouted by Fanfare as “a valuable and utterly fascinating release” in which “the standard of performance . . . rises frequently to the level of the spectacular.”
Boston Baroque’s recording of The Messiah was Classic CD‘s number one recommendation in its 1997 review of the crowded field of Messiah recordings and Billboard magazine called Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride “a superb production [and] cause for celebration . . . [the recording] takes pride of place among readings of Iphigénie en Tauride, if not among all Gluck operas on record.”