Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access

The mission of the Handel and Haydn Society is to inspire the intellect, touch the heart, elevate the soul, and connect us all with our shared humanity through transformative experiences with Baroque and Classical music. 

Inspired by our mission, H+H is fully committed to bringing the music to people in ever more diverse communities across Boston, and to encouraging their involvement. The diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals in H+H’s Strategic Plan are to increase the diversity of H+H’s Board, staff, musical talent, and audiences; seek diverse performance venues; and offer H+H’s learning opportunities to engage adults, school-age children, and educators in communities across greater Boston.

Our progress to date and implementation plans adopted in May 2020 are outlined below in five main areas of the organization:

Countertenor Reginald Mobley singing and Anthony Trecek-King smiling

Artistic / Programming 

As a period instrument ensemble, H+H has an exciting opportunity to present works by Baroque and Classical composers of all colors and genders, enlivening our repertoire with music our audiences would enjoy discovering. For example, in 2017, H+H gave the Boston premiere of Afro-French composer Chevalier de Saint-Georges’ Overture to L’Amant Anonyme at Symphony Hall. In 2021, we will perform a Saint-Georges violin concerto, as well as the music of Ignatius Sancho, arranged by Jonathan Woody. 

H+H has added programming consultant Reginald Mobley to its artistic team. Mobley is an internationally-acclaimed countertenor and expert in Baroque and Classical works by people of all colors and genders. He selected and performed works by the 18th century Spanish composer Isabella Leonarda in fall 2020, and is working with Artistic Director Harry Christophers to bring more works by a diversity of composers to our stage in 2021.

H+H has also added Dr. Anthony Trecek-King to serve as Resident Conductor, Chorus, along with Scott Allen Jarrett. Dr. King will partner with Jarrett and Harry Christophers to bring more singers of color to the H+H Chorus.

Implementation Plans:

  • Expand auditions to a broader range of constituencies, including live auditions at historically black colleges and universities. 
  • Seek to create fellowships for period instrument players and singers of color.
  • Present more guest artists of color to H+H audiences.
  • Program more works by composers of color from the Baroque and Classical eras.
Young female audience members smiling

Audiences

 A comprehensive study conducted by H+H in 2016 of the classical music market in greater Boston found that people of color comprise 20% of the Boston classical music market, but only 12% of H+H’s audience. To find out why, H+H conducted a second study in 2018 focusing specifically on this cohort of classical music listeners and has created a strategy for attracting diverse audiences to our concerts. Keys to this strategy include increasing awareness of H+H, promoting artists of color, and ensuring that all feel welcome at our concerts.

Implementation Plans:

  • Represent the diversity of our onstage talent in public outreach materials. 

  • Increase marketing effort to attract audiences of all colors, including students. 

  • Work with affinity groups and influencers of color to introduce H+H to new, diverse audiences.

Young female student smiling in choir

Education, Learning, and Community Engagement Programs

H+H believes that all people should have access at an early age to transformative experiences with music, and that these experiences can take place anywhere from Symphony Hall to a neighborhood church to a school classroom, online or in person. Through the Karen S. and George D. Levy Education Program, students connect with empowering, relevant, and rigorous artistic experiences and engage with repertoire from a variety of traditions and musical periods, including music by composers of color and composers of all genders. 

Singers in H+H’s seven youth choruses live throughout the greater Boston region and bring to their ensembles a wide variety of cultural experiences and identities. Scholarships are available, so finances are never a barrier for participation. Since 2013, H+H teaching artists have engaged Boston elementary school students in building their musical skills and fostering their creativity and self expression through weekly in-school music instruction. Our “Every Voice” Community Engagement concerts, begun in 2016, feature music by composers of many social identities in performances in Roxbury and the South End, and when live concerts resume we expect to expand this series in Dorchester and other Boston neighborhoods. 

Implementation Plans:

  • In collaboration with community-based partners, expand “Every Voice” concerts to engage more neighborhoods; continue to emphasize music by a wide variety of composers and those of social identities under-performed in the choral community. 

  • Create repertoire guidelines for the H+H Youth Choruses and school-based teaching artists that include music by people of color, people of all genders, and music that is culturally relevant for our students. 

  • Expand programming reach in the Boston Public Schools. 

  • Recruit students for the H+H Youth Choruses from racially diverse student populations through partnerships with schools and other community gathering spaces. 

Three sopranos singing

Staff + Administration

H+H has put in place DEI-sensitive employee search and hiring practices that support inclusion of underrepresented group members. We conduct biannual staff climate surveys including DEI metrics, and we give regular learning sessions on diversity, equity and inclusion to staff, faculty, and musicians. 23% of H+H staff are people of color.

Implementation Plans:

  • Implement an annual performance review process that measures each department’s progress towards achievement of the DEI Implementation Plan.

  • Inventory all H+H suppliers; assure equitable and inclusive procurement and vendor selection processes. 

  • Design and implement inclusion-focused onboarding program. 

  • Integrate DEI into H+H’s culture of continual learning by measuring and reporting results via a living DEI dashboard, and by innovating new DEI strategies based on those results. 

Gala Chairs Michael Oliveri and Eric Aho smiling

Board

The H+H Board created a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force in 2012, which became a permanent Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee in 2018. The Committee reports on DEI initiatives at every Board meeting.

Implementation Plans:

  • Conduct ongoing collaborative, facilitated discussions among Board, staff and musicians about diversity, cultural competency, and creating a welcoming and inclusive H+H. 

  • Regularly report on DEI dashboard metrics at Board meetings. Establish/review Board nomination DEI goals emphasizing priority outreach to members of under-represented groups. 

  • Review and revise Board structure with an eye towards creating a more diverse and inclusive Board. 

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