Biography

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As he embarks on his sixth decade on the podium, Nicholas McGegan — long hailed as “one of the finest baroque conductors of his generation” (The 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.

Best known as a baroque and classical specialist, McGegan’s approach— intelligent, infused with joy and never dogmatic — has led to appearances with many of the world’s major orchestras. At home in opera houses, McGegan shone new light on close to twenty Handel operas as the Artistic Director and conductor at the Göttingen Handel Festival for 20 years (1991-2001) and the Mozart canon as Principal Guest Conductor at Scottish Opera in the 1990s.

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.

One of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra’s greatest successes was the recent 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. 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. 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.

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.

McGegan’s prolific discography includes more than 100 releases spanning five decades. Having recorded over 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.

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. 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 Arts, American Handel Society, and San Francisco Conservatory.

English-born Nicholas McGegan was educated at Cambridge and Oxford. He was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) “for services to music overseas.” Most recently, McGegan was invited to join the board of Early Music America. Other awards include the Halle Handel Prize; the Order of Merit of the State of Lower Saxony (Germany); the Medal of Honour of the City of Göttingen, and a declaration of Nicholas McGegan Day, by the Mayor of San Francisco in recognition of his work with Philharmonia.