The Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra (= HBCO) is a small chamber orchestra dedicated to bringing back to life the vivid rhetoric and dancing rhythms of baroque music. It was founded by Dr. Murray Forbes Somerville (Gund University Organist and Choirmaster, 1990-2003) and Baroque violinist Robert Mealy ’85, who continues to lead the ensemble from the violin section. The orchestra rehearses each week in the sanctuary of Memorial Church, using the church's set of Baroque bows and instruments from the Early Instrument Collection of the Music Department.
The HBCO is one of America’s only undergraduate early music orchestras. HBCO performs two concerts of orchestral music annually, and collaborates with the University Choir on larger-scale projects. Guest directors have included Christopher Hogwood, William Christie, Joel Cohen, Andrew Parrott, and Ton Koopman; the orchestra also improvised with Bobby McFerrin before a packed Sanders Theater in 2002. Director Mealy received the Binkley Award from Early Music America this year for his distinguished work with the HBCO. This season (2005-2006), members of the orchestra will be performing Monteverdi's Orfeo with the Harvard Early Music Society. Auditions are held in the fall during Freshmen Week; no prior experience with early instruments or period performance is necessary, only a love of chamber music, excellent musicianship, and a willingness to play well with others.