Boston’s renowned Handel and Haydn Society (H+H), led by artistic director Harry Christophers, returns to New York for the first time in more than a quarter-century. The 202-year-old ensemble, widely hailed for its historically informed performance tradition, performs Monteverdi’s complete Vespers of 1610 on Saturday, April 8, at 7 p.m. at the Met Fifth Avenue’s Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing.
Monteverdi’s Vespers is a monumental work in 13 movements composed during the time of transition between the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Scored for forces that include orchestra with solo violins and cornets, solo singers, and a choir large enough to be divided into parts ranging from four to ten, this 90-minute tour de force contains both sacred and secular texts, including sonatas, psalms, hymns, Gregorian chant, and a full Magnificat; H + H brings 17 players, 22 choristers, and two soloists to New York to perform the towering work.
"It is an honor for the Handel and Haydn Society to return to New York,” said David Snead, H+H President and CEO. “We are thrilled to perform in a venue which shares our traditions of preserving and celebrating art throughout the centuries, and we look forward to bringing such a pillar of early music repertoire to New York audiences at the extraordinary Temple of Dendur.”
Tickets ($65) to The Met performance also include Museum entry; call 212.570.3749 or visit The Met online at metmuseum.org/Tickets. This is presented as a part of the 2017 season of MetLiveArts.
In addition to its New York appearance this spring and its regular concert series in Boston, Christophers and the Handel and Haydn Society also return this summer to Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the Berkshires, for the first time since 1991. Christophers leads Purcell’s The Fairy Queen with 21 players, 18 choristers, two soloists, and a narrator, on Wednesday, August 9 at 8 p.m. at Ozawa Hall on the Tanglewood campus.
The Fairy Queen—based on William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream—features narration by Antonia Christophers, and soloists countertenor Robin Blaze as Mopsa; bass-baritone Matthew Brook as the Drunken Poet, Corydon, and Hymen; sopranos Sarah Brailey, Margot Rood, and Sonja DuToit Tengblad; tenors Jonas Budris and Stefan Reed; and baritone Woodrow Bynum.
Tickets ($12-124), are available now, by calling 888.266.1200 or visiting tanglewood.org, and at the Symphony Hall Box Office at 301 Massachusetts Avenue, in Boston.
Saturday, April 8, 2017, 7 p.m.
Handel + Haydn Society
Harry Christophers, conductor
The Met, The Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing (Gallery 131)
1000 Fifth venue, New York, New York 10028
MONTEVERDI: Vespers of 1610
Tickets ($65) to this event include Museum admission; call 212.570.3749 or visit The Met online at Metmuseum.org/Tickets.
Wednesday, August 9 at 8 p.m.
Handel + Haydn Society
Harry Christophers, conductor
Antonia Christophers, narrator
Robin Blaze, countertenor (Mopsa)
Matthew Brook, bass-baritone (Drunken Poet/Corydon/Hymen)
Sarah Brailey, Margot Rood, and Sonja DuToit Tengblad, sopranos
Jonas Budris and Stefan Reed, tenors
Woodrow Bynum, baritone
Ozawa Hall, 297 West Street, in Lenox, Massachusetts on the Tanglewood campus.
PURCELL: The Fairy Queen
Tickets: $12-124. Call 888.266.1200, visit tanglewood.org, or the Symphony Hall Box Office at 301 Massachusetts Avenue, in Boston.
About the Handel and Haydn Society
For 200 years the Handel and Haydn Society (H+H) has enriched life and influenced culture by bringing vocal and instrumental music to America. Founded in Boston in 1815, H+H is considered the oldest continuously performing arts organization in the United States and celebrated its Bicentennial in 2015 with special concerts and initiatives to mark two centuries of music making. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Harry Christophers, H+H performs at the highest level of excellence and also provides engaging, accessible, and broadly inclusive music education in Greater Boston and beyond.
H+H’s Orchestra and Chorus are internationally recognized for historically informed performances of Baroque and Classical music. In addition to its local subscription series, tours, and broadcast performances, H+H reaches a worldwide audience through ambitious recordings including the critically acclaimed Haydn, Vol. 1 (2013), the best-selling Joy to the World: An American Christmas (2013), Handel’s Messiah (2014), recorded live under Christopher’s direction at Symphony Hall, and Haydn’s The Creation and Haydn, Vol. 2 in 2016.
H+H’s esteemed history began in 1815 when a group of middle-class Bostonians formed a choral society to bring the best music of Europe to their growing American city. They named the organization after two composers—Handel and Haydn—to represent both the old music of the 18th century and what was then the new music of the 19th century. In the first decades of its existence, H+H gave the US premieres of many iconic works including Handel’s Messiah (1818), Haydn’s Creation (1819), Verdi’s Requiem (1878), and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (1879).
In 1985, H+H established the Karen S. and George D. Levy Education Program and now reaches over 10,000 children each year through public school visits, chorus partnerships, in-school music instruction, and the Vocal Arts Program that includes six youth choruses. H+H also maintains partnerships with higher education institutions and presents free concerts and lectures at local libraries, community centers, and museums.
About Harry Christophers, Conductor and Artistic Director
The 2016-2017 Season marks Harry Christophers’ eighth as Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society. Since his appointment in 2009, Christophers and H+H have embarked on an ambitious artistic journey toward the organization’s 200th anniversary with a showcase of works premiered in the U.S. by H+H since 1815, broad education programming, community outreach activities and partnerships, and the release of a series of recordings on the CORO label.
Christophers is known internationally as founder and conductor of the UK-based choir and period-instrument ensemble The Sixteen. He has directed The Sixteen throughout Europe, America, Australia, and the Far East, gaining a distinguished reputation for his work in Renaissance, Baroque, and 20th- and 21st-century music. In 2000, he instituted The Choral Pilgrimage, a tour of British cathedrals from York to Canterbury. He has recorded over 120 titles for which he has won numerous awards, including the coveted Gramophone Award for Early Music and the prestigious Classical Brit Award in 2005 for his disc Renaissance. His CD IKON was nominated for a 2007 Grammy and his second recording of Handel’s Messiah on The Sixteen’s own label CORO won the prestigious MIDEM Classical Award 2009.
In 2009, Christophers received one of classical music’s highest accolades, the Classic FM Gramophone Awards Artist of the Year Award, and The Sixteen won the Baroque Vocal Award for Handel Coronation Anthems, a recording that also received a 2010 Grammy Award nomination as did Palestrina, Vol. 3 in 2014. From 2007, he has featured with The Sixteen in the highly successful BBC television series Sacred Music, presented by actor Simon Russell Beale. The latest hour- long program, devoted to Monteverdi’s Vespers, will be screened in 2015.
Harry Christophers is Principal guest conductor of the Granada Symphony Orchestra and a regular guest conductor with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. In October 2008, Christophers was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Leicester. He is an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford , of the Royal Welsh Academy for Music and Drama, and was awarded a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2012 Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The critically acclaimed performance series at The Metropolitan Museum of Art commissions and presents contemporary performance through the lens of the Museum’s exhibitions and gallery spaces. MetLiveArts invites artists, performers, curators, and thought-leaders to create groundbreaking new work, including live and digital performances, as well as site-specific durational performances that have been named some of the most “memorable” and “best of” performances in New York City by The New York Times, New Yorker, and Broadway World.
This program is underwritten by Louise and Thomas Cashman, Julia D. Cox, David B. Elsbree and Lorraine Gilmore, Karen Secunda Levy, Michael Scott Morton, Jeffrey S. Thomas, Judy and Menno Verhave, and Kathleen and Walter Weld. Thanks to Anne and David Gergen, season sponsors of Guy Fishman, cello. The H+H Chorus is endowed in perpetuity by Jane and Wat Tyler. The Handel and Haydn Society is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.