New to Classical Music?

Welcome to the Handel + Haydn Society

If you are new to classical music, we especially welcome you. We are delighted you are considering attending a concert. We hope it is a joyous, powerful, and immersive experience.

Please know that there are no right ways to experience a concert. What you feel is unique to you, and important to us.

We believe that having you attend a concert completes our circle. Concerts are a live circuit between the composer, the musicians…and you! Without an audience, there is no electricity.

Some possible questions you may want to consider as you first listen:

Why is the staging different at Handel and Haydn Society? Our orchestra and chorus are smaller than most contemporary orchestras; our musicians often stand; our instruments look and sound different from modern instruments. These choices reflect performances from the actual time of the composers – bringing you as close as possible to what the composer intended. Musicologists might call this historically informed performance practices – you can learn more here.

What does the music articulate? What story arc does the music suggest? When do the instruments and voices blend, and when do you hear one sound dominate? Are there repetitive or building phrases?

What happens during a live performance that is unique? What are the risks and rewards? How is the sound different? How is your personal focus altered? What does community add to the experience?

What emotions do you feel? Music is often considered a language deeper than words. What was the composer’s mood? What are the musicians feeling? Can different life experiences share the same emotions? What insights or release is there for you in the emotions of others?

Whom do you meet? Our audiences often converse before and after concerts, attend our pre-concert talks, and communicate across social media. Will you choose to spark new connections as you share reactions to the music? We hope you engage in the ways that are most enjoyable for you.

Would you like to listen to the music and read more in advance? Our concert page includes links to hear selections from the music, and we publish extensive program notes online, shortly before each concert. Please check each concert page to learn more. There is a pre-concert lecture before each performance, and your program book that you receive at the concert will also contain more information.

Something dynamic and compelling happens at concerts that enthralls audiences and inspires them to return. This has enabled H+H to thrive for more than 200 years. Please join your voice with ours. We look forward to the privilege of meeting you – let us know how we can make your visit more enjoyable by calling us or sending an email through our Contact Us page.