Mission & History
The mission of Portland Baroque Orchestra is to produce fresh and historically informed interpretations of music composed before 1840 for a wide audience, and to educate the community, including its youth, about composers, themes and performance practices of this music through world-class professional performances and community outreach and dialogue.
Emerging in the early 1980s as a grassroots cooperative of musicians, the Portland Baroque Orchestra has matured as a polished, professional organization within the ranks of the best period-instrument orchestras in North America and Europe. Succeeding PBO’s regular guest director and artistic advisor Ton Koopman, Monica Huggett has been the group’s artistic director for seventeen years. She is considered one of the premier baroque violinists, and was appointed the inaugural artistic director of the Juilliard School’s Institute for Historical Performance in 2008.
In addition to its October to May Portland subscription series, PBO presents the Pacific Northwest’s only annual performances of Handel’s Messiah on period instruments, and it is a regular collaborator with arts organizations in the Portland region and beyond. In 2009 PBO collaborated with Portland Opera to gather a unique ensemble of 17th-century specialists from around the nation to perform Cavalli’s Venetian masterpiece La Calisto. In that same year, PBO became period ensemble-in-residence of the Oregon Bach Festival and has since represented the Festival in Ashland, Astoria, Bend, Corvallis, Lincoln City, as well as Portland and Eugene, Oregon. In July 2013, to celebrate the fifth year of this partnership, Monica Huggett and members of PBO will join OBF artistic director designate, Matthew Halls, for performances of music by J.S. Bach in Portland, Eugene, Corvallis and Florence, Oregon. In March 2013, PBO joined forces with Portland Opera for a second fully-stage production at the Newmark Theater with Handel’s Rinaldo.
Under the direction of Monica Huggett, in 2011 PBO collaborated with Montreal’s Les Voix Baroques and Portland’s Cappella Romana to produce and record Bach’s St. John Passion. The studio recording of that production, made after critically acclaimed performances in Portland, Eugene, Seattle and Vancouver (British Columbia) is available on the AVIE label. In April 2014, legendary Dutch bass, Harry van der Kamp will join PBO under Huggett for a program of rarely heard 17th-century German Cantatas with performances in Portland, Salem, Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.