Nicholas McGegan to receive Honorary Doctorate at San Francisco Conservatory of Music Commencement


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SAN FRANCISCO, April 11, 2013

Acclaimed conductor Nicholas McGegan will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in commencement ceremonies at 10:30 a.m. on May 24, 2013. Best known in the Bay Area for his 27-year tenure as music director of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, McGegan is esteemed internationally for his revelatory and buoyant interpretations of baroque works. After receiving his honor, McGegan will deliver the commencement address to the Conservatory’s class of 2013.

This year, the Conservatory will confer degrees on 41 undergraduate and 106 graduate students in the areas of instrumental performance, voice, piano accompanying, composition, conducting and chamber music. Conservatory President Colin Murdoch will preside in the company of Board of Trustees Chair Timothy Foo and family and friends assembled to celebrate the accomplishments of a class representing some 30 countries and 34 states. Ceremonies also will feature addresses by student speakers Omar Shelly and Timothy Sherren and performances by student ensembles. The event takes place in the Conservatory’s Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall at 50 Oak Street.

Regarded by the London Independent as “one of the finest baroque conductors of his generation,” McGegan has led Philharmonia Baroque to the forefront of the global period performance movement. He also helped set the standard of baroque performance during twenty years as artistic director of the International Handel Festival, Göttingen. A proponent of expanding historically informed practice to the wider world of conventional symphonies, McGegan has guest conducted orchestras including the Chicago Symphony and St. Louis Symphony; the Cleveland Orchestra and Philadelphia Orchestra; the New York, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong Philharmonics; and opera companies including London’s Royal Opera at Covent Garden and San Francisco, Santa Fe and Washington operas.

McGegan last conducted the Conservatory Orchestra in 2008 with a performance of Haydn’s Symphony No. 100 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3. Since then, Philharmonia Baroque has afforded Conservatory students frequent opportunities to attend open rehearsals and performances free of charge. Conservatory students have worked in coachings and sectional rehearsals led by Philharmonia players including violinist Katherine Kyme, violist David Daniel Bowes and cellist Tanya Tomkins. Philharmonia concertmaster Elizabeth Blumenstock was a regular Conservatory visitor before formally becoming adjunct faculty in the Historical Performance Program

McGegan says he is honored to be recognized by the Conservatory in this manner and humbled by the prospect of offering wisdom to the next generation of musical pioneers. “The San Francisco Conservatory of Music enormously enriches the musical life, not only of the city and state, but of the nation,” he says. “I am thrilled and delighted to receive these laurels from such an illustrious institution.”

Historical Performance is a rapidly growing specialty at the Conservatory. Early music offerings include the Conservatory Baroque Ensemble concert series; faculty recitals featuring noted performers like harpsichordist Corey Jamason, Distinguished Chair in Historical Performance, violinist Blumenstock, cellist Elisabeth Reed and soprano Christine Brandes; and master classes by internationally-known guest artists such as harpsichordist Anthony Newman, gamba player Wieland Kuijken and recorder player Eva Legêne. The Conservatory maintains a full collection of period instruments, ensuring every interested student has the opportunity to learn this unique craft.

Past recipients of honorary doctoral degrees granted by the Conservatory include San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, guitarist Pepe Romero, opera singer Frederica von Stade and flutist Paula Robison.

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About the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Founded in 1917, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is the oldest conservatory in the American West and has earned an international reputation for producing musicians of the highest caliber. Notable alumni include Yehudi Menuhin, Isaac Stern, Jeffrey Kahane, Aaron Jay Kernis and Robin Sutherland, among others. The Conservatory offers its approximately 400 collegiate students fully accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in composition and instrumental and vocal performance. Its Preparatory Division provides exceptionally high standards of musical excellence and personal attention to more than 580 younger students. The Conservatory’s faculty and students give nearly 500 public performances each year, most of which are offered to the public at no charge. Its community outreach programs serve over 1,600 school children and over 11,000 members of the wider community who are otherwise unable to hear live performances. The Conservatory’s Civic Center facility is an architectural and acoustical masterwork, and the Caroline H. Hume Concert Hall was lauded by The New York Times as the “most enticing classical-music setting” in the San Francisco Bay Area. For more information, visit


About Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra has been dedicated to historically-informed performance of Baroque, Classical and early-Romantic music on original instruments since its inception in 1981. Under Music Director Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque has been named Ensemble of the Year by Musical America.

The Orchestra performs an annual subscription series in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is regularly heard on tour in the United States and internationally. The Orchestra has its own professional chorus, the Philharmonia Chorale, directed by Bruce Lamott, and welcomes talented guest artists such as mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, countertenor David Daniels, conductor Jordi Savall, fortepianist Emmanuel Ax, conductor Masaaki Suzuki, and violinist Rachel Podger. Among the most-recorded period-instrument orchestras in the United States or in Europe, Philharmonia Baroque has made thirty-four highly praised recordings – including its Gramophone award-winning recording of Handel’s Susanna – for harmonia mundi, Reference Recordings, and BMG. For more information, visit

Nicholas McGegan