Handel and Haydn Society Announces Bicentennial 2014-15 Season

Handel and Haydn Society Announces Bicentennial 2014-15 Season

The Handel and Haydn Society (H+H) and Artistic Director Harry Christophers have announced H+H's 2014-2015 Season-its 200th-featuring the Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus performing works from the Baroque and Classical eras. Highlights include a collection of some of the greatest oratorios ever written, stellar guest artists, and two brilliant showcases for H+H Concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky. The season opens with a concert that commemorates H+H's first public program at Boston's King's Chapel on December 25, 1815.

As with recent seasons, H+H will emphasize repertoire significant to its history and perform important works that it premiered in America, including Handel's Messiah (H+H will present its 400th performance of the popular oratorio), Bach's St. Matthew Passion (which received its US premiere by H+H in 1879), and Haydn's The Creation (first performed in this country by H+H in 1819).

"I am delighted to share the details of the Handel and Haydn's Society 2014-2015 Bicentennial Season," said Christophers. "We have been waiting two centuries for this moment! It is a wonderful occasion to revisit our heritage and look ahead to a bright future brimming with artistic talent."

"While 200 years of bringing music to life in America is a monumental milestone for our organization, it is also a testament to this enduring art form and its place in this country's civic landscape," said Executive Director and CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard. "So many people have made this special celebration possible, especially our musicians, our devoted family of community partners, exceptional members of the Board, and, of course, our loyal audiences."

The 2014-2015 Season will showcase a wealth of established artists and exceptionally talented emerging artists. H+H is delighted to welcome back two beloved conductors: Conductor Laureate Christopher Hogwood, who will make a triumphant return with Mendelssohn's oratorio Elijah, and frequent guest conductor Richard Egarr, who will lead a program of Mozart and Beethoven. Among this season's acclaimed singers are sopranos Sarah Coburn and Joélle Harvey, tenors Jeremy Ovenden and Joshua Ellicott, and bass-baritones Andrew Foster-Williams and Matthew Brook. In addition, H+H's dynamic concertmaster, Aisslinn Nosky, will lead her fellow string players in a program focusing on Vivaldi's virtuosic L'estro armonico concertos. Later in the season, as part of an all-Haydn program, Nosky is featured soloist in Haydn's Violin Concerto in C Major, a project to be released on the CORO label in 2016.

Beyond the regular season concerts, H+H will present a special choral concert held in conjunction with the 2015 Chorus America conference in Boston. Harry Christophers leads the Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus in some of his favorite choral selections, from the glorious Renaissance counterpoint of Palestrina to the spiritual minimalism of contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Also on the calendar is the return of the Handel and Haydn Society Holiday Sing, a family-friendly celebration of holiday choral music that will feature H+H's professional chorus and its youth choirs.

As the oldest continuously performing arts organization in the US, the Handel and Haydn Society remains flourishing under the leadership of Harry Christophers. Its musicians play and sing across Massachusetts and New England, in concerts from Portland, Maine to New London, Connecticut. Community partnerships have grown to include regular presentations with the Museum of African American History, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, King's Chapel, Massachusetts Historical Society, MIT, and Boston Children's Museum, among others. With the launch of full-year, weekly music literacy programs for Boston public elementary school students (classes at the Joseph Lee Elementary School in Dorchester and the John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Jamaica Plain), H+H serves nearly 300 students who previously had no access to music instruction during the school day. Additionally, the Karen S. and George D. Levy Education Program brings Baroque and Classical music to well over 10,000 children each year through the Vocal Apprenticeship Program (comprising the Singers, Youth Chorus, Young Men's Chorus, Young Women's Chorus, Young Women's Chamber Choir, and High School Soloists), Vocal Quartet school visits, Collaborative Youth Concerts, and master classes.

2014-2015 Season Highlights

H+H opens the 2014-2015 Season with Baroque Fireworks, a Bicentennial kickoff concert that tips its hat to H+H's first program from 200 years ago. This festive concert will comprise some of the Baroque era's greatest hits, performed by the full Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus. Among the celebratory pieces on the program are Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks, Vivaldi's Concerto for Four Violins in B Minor, and Bach's motet Singet dem Herrn.

Vivaldi's challenging L'estro armonico concertos, music that greatly influenced Bach, are the subject of the next concert, which is to be led by H+H Concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky. Timed for Halloween, this all-Italian Baroque program features none other than Tartini's Devil's Trill Sonata, a work made famous by its fiendish difficulty and eerie legend of the Devil visiting the composer in a dream.

Late November and December bring three cherished H+H holiday traditions. Harry Christophers conducts the Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus and internationally acclaimed soloists in the 161st annual performances of Handel's Messiah. Audiences will "rejoice greatly" with soprano Joélle Harvey, countertenor Tim Mead, and tenor Allan Clayton, who, as part of this presentation, will take part in H+H's 400th performance of Handel's beloved oratorio. Later in December, Back Bay Chorale Music Director Scott Allen Jarrett takes the Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus on a journey through Christmas past, from medieval plainchant to Bach's joyous Cantata 40 and Cantata IV from the Christmas Oratorio. Handel and Haydn welcomes families to celebrate the holidays with the returning Holiday Sing. Guest conductor Lisa Graham, the H+H Chorus, and Vocal Apprenticeship Program youth choirs invite audiences to sing along with holiday favorites at Boston's historic Great Hall in Faneuil Hall.


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