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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 8, 2010
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Under Christophers’ leadership, the Society increases educational programming and offerings during the 2010-2011 Season including special concerts and symposia surrounding Handel’s Israel in Egypt — a work the Society premiered in 1859.
November 8, 2010 (Boston, Mass.) – Handel and Haydn Society‘s 2010-2011 Season marks the 25th Anniversary of the Karen S. and George D. Levy Educational Outreach Program. As part of the celebration, Artistic Director Harry Christophers and the Society will increase efforts to offer hands-on learning and performance opportunities for youth (Grades 3-12) in Greater Boston and beyond. New initiatives are planned in conjunction with the February 18th and 20th performances of Handel’s Israel in Egypt: visits to schools in cities like Boston, Lynn, Lowell and Quincy by the Vocal Quartet — members of the Society’s professional chorus that entertain, and educate 7,500 students annually with a 50-minute interactive presentation; appearances and demonstrations at public, private, and Jewish schools; youth concerts; and the integration of this Handel work into school curricula.
Established in 1985, the Society’s educational outreach program was created with strong roots to the organization’s early leaders. Lowell Mason, best known as the founding father of music education in American public schools, enjoyed a long association with Handel and Haydn as musical editor, and then later served as President of the Society from 1827 until 1832. Mason taught classes at the Bowdoin Street Church and founded the Boston Academy of Music in 1833 to promote music education to the public. When the Society launched its official educational initiative in 1985, it focused on public education with the development of the Vocal Quartet and its free in-school visits that now reach public schools in eight Massachusetts districts; the Collaborative Youth Concerts program soon followed in 1987, where students from different schools and cultural backgrounds come together to perform for their communities alongside Society musicians.
In 1994, the Vocal Apprenticeship Program (VAP) started with the Youth Chorus (ages 11-14) and Soloists at New England Conservatory. Later, VAP reached younger students with the Singers chorus (ages 8-11), and also high school students through its Young Men’s (ages 13-18) and Young Women’s (ages 15-18) Choruses, so that students could grow with the program for several years, increasing their individual sense of accomplishment as they passed through each level. Students enrolled in VAP learn music theory and receive performance opportunities throughout each season. VAP classes take place in the state-of-the-art music division wing of the Boston Latin School, located in one of the most culturally accessible neighborhoods of Boston next to Massachusetts College of Art, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
The Handel and Haydn Society is the only professional music organization in Massachusetts serving as a parent to its own children’s choir program and regularly presenting them in conjunction with its professional series at Symphony Hall. VAP is also the only children’s choir program in New England to include individualized scholarships for voice instruction, diction, and other classes for potential music majors in collaboration with New England Conservatory.
Many alumni of Handel and Haydn’s educational outreach program have continued music study in college and have pursued careers in music. A few recent examples include: Nicole (Ameduri) Gönül performed the role of the Queen of Mexico in Purcell’s The Indian Queen with the Williamsburg Opera Workshop and the Baroque Opera Orchestra of New Jersey. She also made the semi-finals of a vocal competition in Italy, the Concorso Internazionale per Cantanti Lirici (Citta di Alcamo); Meredith Lustig will make her New York City Opera debut as Giannettia in Donizetti's The Elixir of Love March 22-April 9, 2011; Patrick Wicker is in his sophomore year at Harvard University and singing with the Krokodiloes at Sanders Theatre.
During the 2010-2011 Season Handel and Haydn will expand its educational outreach efforts as part of the program’s 25th Anniversary. VAP students will have additional performance opportunities (see full schedule following): on November 15, Youth Chorus will perform at Lord & Taylor in Boston as part of the national Gift of Sharing campaign; Young Men’s Chorus, Young Women’s Chorus and Youth Chorus will carol throughout Symphony Hall prior to each of the Society’s Messiah performances, December 3-5. Members from all four choruses and the Vocal Quartet will also perform at the Society Ball gala benefit on February 12.
This year the Vocal Quartet will visit some 40 schools to teach students music history and genres with their colorful and humorous educational performances. For the first time, the Society collaborates with the Children’s Museum to present a family concert featuring the Vocal Quartet and its Voices of the Stage curriculum on February 23.
February also includes new educational programming surrounding the Society’s performances of Handel’s Israel in Egypt -- a work premiered in this country by the Society in 1859. Collaborative Youth Concerts with Boston Latin, Boston Arts Academy, Lawrence High, Brockton High, and others will include repertoire from this oratorio. The 4th Annual Young Men’s Chorus Festival on February 19th will include excerpts from Israel in Egypt and allow members from Young Men’s Chorus to work with college students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston Conservatory, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, along with other young singers from Boston Children’s Chorus, Rindge & Latin High, and Boston Arts Academy. Traveling symposia to area colleges, conservatories and/or libraries will feature excerpts of this Handel work played on baroque instruments followed by Q&A sessions. Various school choirs will be invited to the Israel in Egypt dress rehearsal at Symphony Hall on Thursday February 17, where Artistic Director Harry Christophers will share his enthusiasm for this work with students:
“Any educational program has to whet the appetite of its students. A work such as Handel’s Israel in Egypt can do just that but on so many levels. Whatever your belief, the story is monumentally exciting – it narrates in graphic detail not only the story of the ten plagues that fall on the hapless Egyptians but also celebrates the miraculous deliverance of the chosen people from Pharaoh’s wrath. As a literary story it is full of interest open to endless discussion. As music it is like a great canvas with the artist Handel painting the words in musical phrases that are so descriptive — frogs, flies, lice, locusts, hailstones culminating in the superb chorus (“The Lord shall reign for ever and ever”) complete with horse and rider thrown into the sea.
Then there is the history behind its composition both in biblical times and in Handel’s England where for example the flamboyantly eccentric bass duet (“The Lord is a man of war”) would have excited the jingoistic public, eager for conflict with Spain. Handel’s music translates so well into the modern day; it has relevance now as it did then.”
–Artistic Director Harry Christophers
Harry Christophers was appointed Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society in 2008 and began his tenure with the 2009–2010 Season. He has conducted Handel and Haydn each season since September 2006, when he led a sold-out performance in the Esterházy Palace at the Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria. Christophers and the Society have since embarked on an ambitious artistic journey that begins with the 2010–2011 Season with a showcase of works premiered in the United States by the Society over the last 195 years, and the release of the first of a series of recordings on CORO leading to the Society’s Bicentennial.
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, and the Far East, gaining a distinguished reputation for his work in Renaissance, Baroque, and 20th century music. In 2000, he instituted the “Choral Pilgrimage,” a tour of British cathedrals from York to Canterbury. He has recorded close to 100 titles for which he has won numerous awards, including a Grand Prix du Disque for Handel Messiah, numerous Preise der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik (German Record Critics Awards), the coveted Gramophone Award for Early Music, and the prestigious Classical Brit Award (2005) for his disc entitled Renaissance. In 2009 he received one of classical music’s highest accolades, the Classic FM Gramophone Awards Artist of the Year Award; The Sixteen also won the Baroque Vocal Award for Handel Coronation Anthems, a CD that also received a 2010 Grammy Award nomination. Harry Christophers is also Principal Guest Conductor of the Granada Symphony Orchestra and a regular guest conductor with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and the Orquestra de la Comunidad de Madrid.
In October 2008, Christophers was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Music from the University of Leicester. Most recently, he was elected an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford and also of the Royal Welsh Academy for Music and Drama.
Handel and Haydn Society
25th Anniversary Season Highlights of the Education Program
As of November 8, 2010
- Nov. 15, 5:30 pm: Youth Chorus performs at Lord & Taylor, Prudential Center as part of the Gift of Sharing national campaign and will be recorded for a CD release of the event
- Nov. 22, 6pm at Class of '59 Chapel, Harvard Business School; Nov. 27, 8pm at Follen Church, Lexington. A select ensemble from Young Women’s Chorus sings cantatas by Bach and Stravinsky, conducted by John Harbison.
- Dec. 3, 7:30pm: Young Women’s Chorus pre-Messiah caroling at Symphony Hall
- Dec. 4, 2:30pm: Young Men’s Chorus pre-Messiah caroling
- Dec. 5, 2:30pm: Youth Chorus pre-Messiah caroling
- Dec. 12, 5pm: Winter VAP choral concert (all choirs), United Parish, Brookline
- Dec. 18, 3pm: VAP Soloists Recital, Boston Conservatory, Seully Hall
- Feb. 10, 8pm: Boston Latin Youth Concert
- Feb. 11, 11:30am: Lawrence High Youth Concert with Brockton High
- Feb. 12: VAP Choruses & Vocal Quartet perform at the Society Ball gala benefit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Boston
- Feb. 17, 2-5pm: School choirs invited to Israel in Egypt dress rehearsal at Symphony Hall
- Feb. 19, 9:30-6:30 pm: 4th annual Young Men’s Chorus Festival with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston Conservatory, Worcester
- Feb. 20, 1:30-2:30pm: Youth Chorus singing at Horticultural Hall for a private reception before the Society performances of Handel’s Israel in Egypt
- Feb. 23, 1pm: Family concert with Vocal Quartet at the Children’s Museum
- Feb. 26: Young Women’s Chorus at Collegiate Women’s Festival, Wellesley College, details forthcoming
Polytechnic Institute, Boston Children’s Chorus, Rindge & Latin High, Boston Arts Academy, other schools; location TBA
- April 12, 6:30 pm: Youth Chorus at Boston ACDA Big Sing! Festival, St. Cecilia’s Church
- May 16, 7:30pm: Spring VAP Choral Concert (all choirs), Boston Latin School featuring world premiere of Young Women’s Chorus song by William Hawley
- VAP Soloists Recital/Awards Ceremony at NEC, details forthcoming
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ABOUT HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY
The Handel and Haydn Society is a professional chorus and period instrument orchestra that is internationally recognized as a leader in the field of Historically Informed Performance, a revelatory style that uses the instruments and techniques of the time in which the music was composed. Founded in Boston in 1815, the Society is the oldest continuously performing arts organization in the United States and has a longstanding commitment to excellence and innovation: it gave the American premieres of Handel’s Messiah (1818), Haydn’s The Creation (1819), Verdi’s Requiem (1878) and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (1879). The Society today, under the leadership of Artistic Director Harry Christophers, is committed to its mission “to perform Baroque and Classical music at the highest levels of artistic excellence and to share that music with as large and diverse an audience as possible.” The Society is widely known through its local subscription concerts, tours, concert broadcasts on National Public Radio, and recordings. The Society’s Lamentations and Praises won a 2002 Grammy Award, and its two most recent CDs, All is Bright and PEACE, appeared simultaneously in the top ten on Billboard Magazine’s classical music chart. The 2010-2011 Season marks the 25th Anniversary of Handel and Haydn’s educational programming. The award-winning Karen S. & George D. Levy Educational Outreach Program fosters the knowledge and performance of classical music among young people including in underserved schools and communities. Annually, the program brings music education and vocal training to more than 10,000 students in the Greater Boston area.
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