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Philharmonia Baroque uses old sonorities and new ideas at Stanford Bing / San Francisco Chronicle

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When you're an early-music ensemble devoted to playing on period instruments, like the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, you've largely circumscribed the repertoire that is going to form the basis of your musical endeavors. Largely, but not entirely. One of Philharmonia's more exciting side endeavors under longtime music director Nicholas McGegan has been its occasional forays into the world of contemporary music, sometimes even commissioning new work from living composers.

The orchestra's rewarding concert program on Wednesday, March 6, in Stanford's Bing Concert Hall shone a spotlight on the latest such commissioning project. It included two recent songs - one brand new, one just a few years old - written for Philharmonia and the great Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter by the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, and came as a demonstration of how much is possible with old sonorities and new ideas.  Photo: Ewa-Marie Rundquist

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