“Onstage, Christophers has what it takes to inspire the Society’s fine musicians.”
–The Wall Street Journal
October 15, 2013 (Boston, MA) – The Handel and Haydn Society (H&H) is delighted to announce the release of its first studio recording with CORO. The disc, which is a co-production with WGBH and was recorded at their studios in Boston in January, will feature an eclectic selection of Christmas music including traditional carols using American tunes and Christmas motets by Charles Ives and contemporary American composer, James Bassi. The disc also features two carols by the “father of American choral music,” Bostonian William Billings, and the popular Carol of the Bells by Ukranian composer Mykola Leontovich with its instantly recognisable four-note ostinato motif.
Artistic Director Harry Christophers comments: “When putting together this collection of music for Christmas, I canvassed many eminent people in the US, and in particular Boston, as to which carols were the most popular. I was surprised to find that It came upon the midnight clear ranked amongst the top three, beautiful though it is. When I came to rehearse it, I expressed my surprise to the singers only for them to respond ‘but Harry, this isn’t the tune we know!’ That was also their reaction to O little town of Bethlehem, the words of which incidentally were written by Phillips Brooks, Bishop of Massachusetts. I had also asked notable organists and choirmasters what were the most frequently performed Christmas anthems only to be told that they were undoubtedly works by Rutter and Howells. Thus what I have presented is a sort of survey of the most popular carols sung in the US, occasionally alongside their English counterparts, as well as a selection of American and English anthems for the festive season.”
Founded in 1815, H&H, a Grammy Award winner, is considered the oldest continuously performing arts organization in the U.S. and has given the American premieres of major works including Handel’s Messiah and Jephtha; Bach’s St. Matthew Passion; and works by Haydn, Mozart, and many others. H&H and CORO launched their first collaboration with a trilogy including Mozart’s Mass in C Minor (2010), Mozart’s Requiem (2011), and Mozart’s Coronation Mass (2012). In September of this year they released a new recording of Haydn symphonies (No. 6 and No. 82) and the Violin Concerto in G major featuring violinist Aisslinn Nosky. Handel and Haydn celebrates its Bicentennial in 2015, and future plans include live recordings of Handel’s Messiah and Haydn’s Creation, which H&H premiered in the U.S. in 1818 and 1819, respectively.
“The Handel and Haydn Society honors the great American choral tradition with a unique selection of carols, including the beloved Joy to the World. From its first concert on Christmas Eve 1815 to its 160 year holiday tradition of Handel’s Messiah, H&H holds a special place in the heart of many Americans at Christmas time. We hope this release will comfort and inspire many listeners around the world, especially as we prepare for the Bicentennial of H&H,” said Executive Director and CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard.
Appointed Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society (H&H) in 2008, Harry Christophers began his tenure with the 2009–2010 Season and has conducted H&H each season since September 2006, when he led a sold-out performance in the Esterházy Palace at the Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria. Christophers and H&H have since embarked on an ambitious artistic journey towards the organisation’s 2015 Bicentennial with a showcase of works premiered in the United States by H&H since 1815, education programming, community outreach activities and partnerships, and the release of a series of recordings on the CORO label. Christophers is known internationally as founder and conductor of the UK-based choir and period instrument ensemble The Sixteen. He has directed The Sixteen throughout Europe, America, and the Far East, gaining a distinguished reputation for his work in Renaissance, baroque, and 20th- and 21st-century music. In 2000, he instituted The Choral Pilgrimage, a tour of British cathedrals from York to Canterbury. He has recorded over 120 titles for which he has won numerous awards, including a Grand Prix du Disque for Handel Messiah, numerous Preise der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics Awards), the coveted Gramophone Award for Early Music, and the prestigious Classical Brit Award (2005) for his disc entitled Renaissance. In 2009 he received one of classical music’s highest accolades, the Classic FM Gramophone Awards Artist of the Year Award; The Sixteen also won the Baroque Vocal Award for Handel Coronation Anthems, a CD that also received a 2010 Grammy Award nomination. Harry Christophers is also Principal Guest Conductor of the Granada Symphony Orchestra and a regular guest conductor with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. In October 2008, Christophers was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Leicester. He is an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford and also of the Royal Welsh Academy for Music and Drama and was awarded a CBE in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
ABOUT HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY
Handel and Haydn Society (H&H) is a professional period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus and an internationally recognized leader in the field of Historically Informed Performance, a revelatory style that uses the instruments and techniques of the composer’s time. Founded in Boston in 1815, H&H is considered the oldest continuously performing arts organization in the United States and has a longstanding commitment to excellence and innovation: it gave the American premieres of Handel’s Messiah (1818), Haydn’s The Creation (1819), Verdi’s Requiem (1878), and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (1879). H&H today, under Artistic Director Harry Christophers’ leadership, is committed to its mission to enrich life and influence culture by performing baroque and classical music at the highest levels of artistic excellence, and by providing engaging, accessible, and broadly inclusive music education and training activities. H&H is widely known through its local subscription series, tours, concert broadcasts on WGBH/99.5 Classical New England and National Public Radio, and recordings. Its recording of Sir John Tavener’s Lamentations and Praises won a 2003 Grammy Award and two of its recordings, All is Bright and Peace, appeared simultaneously in the top ten on Billboard Magazine’s classical music chart. Since the release of its first collaboration with Harry Christophers on the CORO label in September 2010, it has made available three live commercial recordings of works by Mozart – Mass in C Minor (2010), Requiem (2011), and Coronation Mass (2012) as well as Haydn, Vol. 1 (September 2013) and An American Christmas (October 2013). The 2010–2011 Season marked the 25th anniversary of H&H’s award-winning Karen S. and George D. Levy Educational Outreach Program, which brings music education, vocal training, and performance opportunities to 10,000 students annually throughout Greater Boston and beyond. Handel and Haydn Society is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The United Kingdom based record label, CORO – the record label of the acclaimed choir and period instrument orchestra The Sixteen and conductor and founder Harry Christophers, has exclusively recorded the Handel and Haydn Society since 2010, with the commencement of Christophers’ tenure as Artistic Director. This international collaboration began with a trilogy of Mozart recordings that have met with critical success. In 2011, CORO celebrated its 10th anniversary and the label now boasts 118 titles. Recent releases include a new series of discs devoted to the music of Palestrina; The Queen of Heaven, which accompanied The Sixteen’s 13th Choral Pilgrimage in the UK; and new recordings of Handel’s celebrated oratorios, Saul and Messiah – the latter was awarded the prestigious MIDEM Classical Award 2009. In the same year the group’s recording of Handel’s Coronation Anthems won the coveted Classic FM Gramophone Award for Baroque Vocal Music. In 2010 CORO released the BBC’s groundbreaking first series of Sacred Music on DVD. Future plans include new recordings of Handel’s epic oratorio Jephtha and Monteverdi’s Vespers with The Sixteen and Haydn’s Creation with Handel and Haydn Society.
Title: Joy to the World: An American Christmas
Artist: Harry Christophers, Handel and Haydn Society,
Release Date: October 2013
Cat No.: COR16117
For information on Handel and Haydn Society and images please visit www.handelandhaydn.org, or contact Kerry Israel at [email protected] or 617 262 1815 or Nikki Scandalios at [email protected] or 704 340 4094.
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