Early Music Ensemble's Home of 30 Years Destroyed in Fire

Monday, October 03, 2016 - 10:44 AM

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra performing at First Congregational Church in Berkeley, California. (YouTube)

On Friday, a fire tore through part of the historic First Congregational Church in Berkeley, California. The cause of the three-alarm blaze, which caused part of the roof to collapse, is still unknown.

The news has deeply shaken the community. First Congregational Church is known as more than a house of worship. In addition to several community involvement initiatives, it is a center for music and the performing arts. It hosts the annual Midsummer Mozart Festival and several chamber groups throughout the year.

For more than 30 years, the church— affectionately referred to as “First Congo”— has been the home of the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. The organization’s mission is to provide well informed-performances of early and baroque music. With period instruments and vocal techniques, the Philharmonia is able to capture a period-appropriate richness of sound.

The Philharmonia was scheduled to begin its season at First Congregational later this month, but leadership is working diligently to bring audiences the music they love at an alternate venue.

Our thoughts are with the First Congregational community and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra during their recovery.

Below is the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra performing Henry Purcell's Dioclesian, "Triumph Victorious Love" at the church. 


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Comments [3]

Anat Keidar from NY

The news is so sad. I have so many recordings from that venue. Thank you for sharing this beautiful piece. In spite of terrible destruction of that beautiful hall, the joy on McGegan's face as he conducts is priceless. Let us hope and pray there will be a new place for this beautiful music making soon.

Oct. 06 2016 08:43 PM
Geo. from St. Louis, MO

The church has a page with updates on the fire and its aftermath here:


Oct. 05 2016 11:48 AM
N. Sammons from Santa Fe, NM

Lovely recording. Best wishes for the relocation efforts. Early music community took another hit with loss of Neville Marriner this week. I know his legacy will thrive in the hands of these wonderful players.

Oct. 03 2016 11:45 PM

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