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Jake Heggie collaborating with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Award: $35,000 Performing Arts Grant awarded in 2005

Premiered:  November 2006

Composer Jake Heggie collaborated with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra to create a music drama, To Hell and Back, based on the classic tale of Persephone from Ovid’s Metamorphosis.  Collaborating on a new work was a first for Philharmonia Baroque, which is known for its premieres of recently rediscovered and reconstructed Baroque, Classical, and early Romantic works; and for Mr. Heggie, who had never been invited to write for period instruments. The finished work featured a period instrument orchestra with soloists Patti LuPone and Isabel Bayrakdarian.

Development of To Hell and Back required Heggie to work closely with Maestro Nicholas McGegan and with orchestra members over the course of a year to learn the distinctive expressive qualities of historically accurate instruments–including valveless horns and trumpets and the theorbo and harpsichord.  He also worked closely with librettist Gene Scheer.  Mr. Scheer had recently completed a commissioned libretto with composer Tobias Picker for an adaptation of Drieser’s An American Tragedy for the Metropolitan Opera.

San Francisco-based Jake Heggie is an acclaimed composer with many important compositions to his credit, including the opera Dead Man Walking for San Francisco Opera, Holy the Firm – Essay for Cello for Oakland East Bay Symphony, The End of the Affair for Houston Grand Opera, and The Moon is Mirror, songs for acclaimed baritone Bryn Terfel.

Named Musical America’s “Ensemble of the Year” for 2004, San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra has been dedicated to historically-informed performance of Baroque, Classical, and early Romantic music on original instruments since its inception.  Founded by harpsichordist and early music pioneer, Laurette Goldberg, in 1981, it has been under the leadership of Music Director Nicholas McGegan since 1985.