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Handel and Haydn Society Presents 159th Annual Handel Messiah, Now thru 12/2

Artistic Director Harry Christophers returns to Symphony Hall to lead the Handel and Haydn Society's Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus in Handel's Messiah in the 159th continuous year of performance since H&H began programming the work annually in 1854. This season features a stellar collection of guest artists, each of whom has appeared with H&H in the past. H&H eagerly anticipates the return of exceptional soloists soprano Karina Gauvin, countertenor Daniel Taylor, tenor James Gilchrist, and baritone Sumner Thompson.

The Handel and Haydn Society's performances of Messiah have been met with both audience and critical acclaim; Keith Powers of the Boston Herald called it "a work that deserves its place on everyone's holiday wish list," and Jeremy Eichler observed the "singing of superb suppleness and grace" in his Boston Globe review.

The Handel and Haydn Society first performed selections from Messiahat its inaugural concert on December 25, 1815, and gave the first complete performance in the United States three years later in 1818. Originally composed by Handel for Easter, the work has since become synonymous with the Christmas season, and has become a Boston tradition. Handel and Haydn will observe its Bicentennial in 2015, which will coincide with its 162nd annual performances of Messiah. In December 2014, when the first season of Bicentennial celebrations begin, H&H will also celebrate 400 total performances of Messiah. Harry Christophers says, "For most people Messiah is the chorus. Every time I get to the end, when the sopranos and tenors hit the top note in the last "amen" chorus, it just sends a shiver through my spine. It's fantastic - a great moment. That's what keeps Messiah fresh for me."

Prior to each Messiah performance, members of H&H's Vocal Apprenticeship Program (a component of the Karen S. and George D. Levy Educational Outreach Program) will carol throughout the Symphony Hall corridors. Students in grades 3 through 12 participate in the program, in which they receive vocal training and study music theory and musicianship.

The 2012 performance of Messiah will be recorded and broadcast both locally and nationally by WGBH's Classical New England, with dates and times to be announced.

For more information, visit handelandhaydn.org


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by Peter Danish