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PBO’s Monica Huggett to retire

The internationally prominent violinist, who's led Portland Baroque Orchestra for 26 years, will retire in 2021.

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Monica Huggett, the internationally celebrated Baroque violinist who has been artistic director of Portland Baroque Orchestra for more than a quarter-century, will retire from the company at the end of its 2020-21 season, PBO announced Monday. Huggett, 66, will continue as artistic director emeritus.

Monica Huggett, Portland Baroque Orchestra’s longtime leader, will retire after the 2020-2021 season. 2013 photo

Huggett has spent her career deeply involved in the international Baroque and historical performance music movements, and helped build PBO, which she joined as artistic director in 1994, into a leading advocate of the music. “During her tenure, the orchestra has grown to the third largest period performance orchestra in the country with over 25 concert events a year including the popular holiday performances of Handel’s Messiah,” the company said in a press release.

PBO was founded in 1984, and for its first decade was led by guest directors, including the prominent Dutch organist and harpsichordist Ton Koopman, with whom Huggett co-founded the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra. Huggett is in demand as a violin soloist and recording artist, with more than a hundred recordings, including Gramophone Award winners, to her credit. In addition to her post as leader of Portland Baroque Orchestra, she led the Irish Baroque Orchestra for a dozen years, was the first director of the new graduate program in historical performance at The Juilliard School, and has collaborated with, among many others, Christopher Hogwood at The Academy of Ancient Music and Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert. She’s a frequent guest director of major ensembles internationally, co-founder of the Montana Baroque Festival, and founder of Ensemble Sonnerie and Hausmusik London.

“PBO has been so fortunate to have Monica Huggett grow and shape the orchestra for the past 25 years,” company executive director Abigail McKee said in a press release. “Her incredible talent and leadership has brought limitless beauty to Portland, and her musicianship truly has shaped the world of Baroque performance. While this transition is bittersweet, we are so excited to see what she does next!”

Details of Huggett’s final season as PBO’s artistic director will be announced this spring, as will the next steps in choosing her successor.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Bob Hicks has been covering arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest since 1978, including 25 years at The Oregonian. Among his art books are Kazuyuki Ohtsu; James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time; and Beth Van Hoesen: Fauna and Flora. His work has appeared in American Theatre, Biblio, Professional Artist, Northwest Passage, Art Scatter, and elsewhere. He also writes the daily art-history series "Today I Am."

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