For 200 years the Handel and Haydn Society has enriched life and influenced culture by bringing vocal and instrumental music to America. Founded in Boston in 1815, H+H is considered the oldest continuously performing arts organization in the United States and is celebrating its Bicentennial this season with special concerts and initiatives to mark two centuries of music making. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Harry Christophers, H+H performs at the highest level of excellence and also provides engaging, accessible, and broadly inclusive music education in Greater Boston and beyond.
H+H’s Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus are internationally recognized for historically informed performances of Baroque and Classical music. In addition to its local subscription series, tours, and broadcast performances, H+H reaches a worldwide audience through ambitious recordings including the critically acclaimed Haydn, Vol. 1 (2013), the best-selling Joy to the World: An American Christmas (2013), and Handel’s Messiah (2014), recorded live under Christopher’s direction at Symphony Hall. Releases for the 2015-2016 Season include Haydn’s Creation and Haydn, Vol. 2.
H+H’s esteemed history began in 1815 when a group of middle-class Bostonians formed a choral society to bring the best music of Europe to their growing American city. They named the organization after two composers—Handel and Haydn—to represent both the old music of the 18th century and what was then the new music of the 19th century. In the first decades of its existence, H+H gave the US premieres of many iconic works including Handel’s Messiah (1818), Haydn’s Creation (1819), Verdi’s Requiem (1878), and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (1879).
In 1985, H+H established the Karen S. and George D. Levy Education Program and now reaches over 10,000 children each year through public school visits, chorus partnerships, in-school music instruction, and a Vocal Arts Program that includes six youth choruses. H+H also maintains partnerships with higher education institutions and presents free concerts and lectures at local libraries, community centers, and museums.