As was noted on this site when the San Francisco performances for the 2015–16 season of Philharmonia Baroque were reported, this is Nicholas McGegan’s 30th season as Music Director. At that time it was noted that Herbst Theatre would host a special showcase concert, entitled Baroque Fireworks, in honor of the occasion, at which mezzo Susan Graham would be the guest artist. However, given the significance of the occasion, the concert will be both preceded and followed by auxiliary gala events, which will keep those fully committed to the celebration active between 5 p.m. and midnight on Thursday, February 11.
The concert itself will begin at the usual time of 8 p.m. It will consist entirely of music by George Frideric Handel. Graham will sing arias from two of his operas, Ariodante (HWV 33) and Serse (HWV 40). The latter is best known for its opening aria, “Ombra mai fu,” sung by the title character (Xerxes) in praise of the shade cast by his favorite plane tree. (It is probably the only operatic aria whose subject is vegetable, rather than animal.) The instrumental selections will be two of Handel’s best-known suites, the second (in D major) of the three “water music” suites (HWV 349), best known for its Alla Hornpipe movement, and the HWV 351 Music for the Royal Fireworks.
For those interested in attending only the concert, ticket prices are $70, $120, and $650, because this is a special event. There is an event page for this concert on the Philharmonia Baroque Web site, as well as a Web page for purchasing tickets from City Box Office. City Box Office may also be reached by telephone at 415-392-4400.
The remaining gala events will all take place at City Hall. They will begin at 5 p.m. with a cocktail party and silent auction showcasing one-of-a-kind items, which will be held in the Rotunda. From there the guests will proceed to the North Light Court for a full-course seated dinner and live auction beginning at 6:30 p.m. Finally, the concert will be followed by a special Afterparty and dessert reception, which will include a premium Scotch tasting and live music. A single Patron Ticket for all events (including the concert) will be $650; and parties of ten can be accommodated at a single Patron Table for $6500. There is also a higher level Guarantor Ticket for $1000 with additional benefits (along with a similar option for a table for ten). There is a special Web page with full details and a registration form. In addition, there is a Web page for those interested only in attending the Afterparty. The charge is $100 per ticket, and six is the maximum number of tickets that can be purchased. Please note that black tie attire is requested for all gala events.