Handel & Haydn Society to mark 200th anniversary season in style

February 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm

By Aaron Keebaugh

Harry Christophers will conduct Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” and Haydn’s “The Creation” in the Handel and Haydn Society’s 200th anniversary season.

In 1819, the Handel and Haydn Society gave the U.S. premiere of Haydn’s The Creation, a work that was still in living memory. Sixty years later, H&H helped bring the Bach revival to these shores in the first American performance of the composer’s monumental St. Matthew Passion.

H&H will return to its roots to celebrate its 200th anniversary this coming season as artistic director Harry Christophers leads the chorus and period instrument orchestra in both masterworks next spring. H&H conductor laureate Christopher Hogwood will return to direct Mendelssohn’s Elijah in March 2015, with bass-baritone Andrew Foster-Williams in the title role.

“We have been waiting two centuries for this moment!” Christophers said in a statement released Monday. “It is a wonderful occasion to revisit our heritage and look ahead to a bright future brimming with artistic talent.”

Christophers and H&H will kick off their 2014-2015 season in October with a fitting program of “greatest hits,” featuring Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, Bach’s motet Singet dem Herrn, and Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins in B minor.

Vivaldi’s music will also be the focus of the October 31 and November 2 concerts when concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky leads the orchestra in four of the composer’s L’estro Armonico concertos in addition to works by Corelli, Torelli, and Tartini’s string-busting Devil’s Trill Sonata.

H&H will mark the 2014 holiday season with their 400th performance of Handel’s Messiah, in November which will feature soprano Joélle Harvey, countertenor Tim Mead, and tenor Allan Clayton as guest soloists (November). The Christmas concert, to be conducted by Back Bay Chorale director Scott Allen Jarrett, will include Sweelinck’s Hodie Christus natus est, Schütz’s Ach Herr, du Schöpfer aller Ding, and Corelli’s Christmas Concerto alongside Bach’s Cantata No. 40 and Cantata IV from the Christmas Oratorio.

Haydn’s music will be the focus of H&H’s first concert of the New Year. Aisslinn Nosky will perform as soloist in the Violin Concerto in C major, and Christophers will conduct the orchestra in the composer’s Symphonies No. 7 (Le Midi) and No. 83 (La Poule).

Frequent H&H guest conductor Richard Egarr will return in February to lead Mozart’s Mass in C minor, K. 139 and Beethoven’s sparkling Symphony No. 1 in C major.

Performances will continue into the summer. As part of the Chorus America National Conference to be held in Boston in June 2015, Christophers and H&H will offer an intriguing mix of music that stretches from Palestrina to Arvo Pärt and James MacMillan.

Beyond these concerts, the Boston Public Library at Copley Square will showcase H&H’s 200-year history and the development of classical music in the United States in an exhibit that will run from March to September 2015.

Tickets for the 2014-2015 season are now available. handelandhaydn.org; 617-266-3605.

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