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Grant part of NEA announcement of 863 grants and $22.543 million in funding nationwide
November 17, 2011 (Boston, MA) – The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman today announced that the agency will award 863 grants to organizations and individual writers across the country. The Handel and Haydn Society (H&H) is one of the grantees and will receive an Art Works grant of $10,000 to further audience education and enrichment for its performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. The 863 grant awards total $22.543 million, encompass 15 artistic disciplines and fields, and support projects in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
Project Bach continues the Handel and Haydn Society’s exploration of historically significant works premiered in the US by H&H, which takes its audience on a journey from its founding in 1815 as a choral society dedicated to the betterment of cultural life in Boston to its Bicentennial in 2015. Project Bach features J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, premiered in the US by H&H in 1871, first performed in its entirety in the US by H&H in 1879, and last performed by H&H in 2005. H&H's professional Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus, led by Harry Christophers, will perform the work at Symphony Hall in Boston on March 30 and April 1, 2012. The program will feature members of the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Choruses, which are part of H&H’s Vocal Apprenticeship Program. A wide range of education and outreach initiatives will complement the performances in order to deepen audiences’ understanding of the work and enhance their musical experience; engage children, students, and adults of diverse backgrounds in Baroque and Classical music; and strengthen H&H’s connections with its community.
“Art Works is the guiding principle at the NEA,” said agency Chairman Rocco Landesman. “And I’m pleased to see that principle represented through the 823 Art Works-funded projects included in this announcement. These projects demonstrate the imaginative and innovative capacities of artists and arts organizations to enhance the quality of life in their communities.”
“As part of its mission, H&H strives to entertain and inspire audiences, provide unique educational experiences for students at all levels, and reach all citizens in the community through broad outreach efforts. This generous grant from the NEA will allow us to expand our reach as we perform and share Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, one of the greatest works ever written and a work central to the rich history of H&H,” said Handel and Haydn Society Executive Director/CEO Marie-Hélène Bernard.
In March 2011, the NEA received 1,686 eligible applications for Art Works requesting more than $84 million in funding. The resulting funding rate of 49 percent of eligible applications reflects both the significant demand for support and the ongoing vitality of the not-for-profit arts community despite current financial challenges. Art Works grants are awarded based on the applications received by the NEA and how those applications are assessed by the review panels.
The Karen S. and George D. Levy Educational Outreach Program
Established in 1985, the Handel and Haydn Society’s Karen S. and George D. Levy Educational Outreach Program was created with strong ties 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, first as musical editor and later as President of H&H from 1827–1832. 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 H&H launched its official educational initiative in 1985, it focused on public education with its free school visits that now reach public schools in nine Massachusetts districts; the Collaborative Youth Concerts followed in 1987, in which students from different school districts and cultural backgrounds come together to perform for their communities alongside Society musicians.
In 1994, H&H started the Vocal Apprenticeship Program (VAP) with Youth Chorus (grades 6–8) and the High School Soloists pre-professional program, held at New England Conservatory. Later, VAP reached younger students with Singers (grades 3–5) and high school students with its Young Men’s (grades 8–12) and Young Women’s (grades 9–12) 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 youth ensemble program and regularly presenting them in conjunction with its professional series at Symphony Hall. VAP is also the only youth ensemble program in New England to include individualized scholarships for vocal instruction, diction, and other classes for potential music majors in collaboration with New England Conservatory.
ABOUT HANDEL AND HAYDN SOCIETY
Handel and Haydn Society (H&H) is a professional Period Instrument Orchestra and Chorus and an internationally recognized leader in the field of Historically Informed Performance, a revelatory style that uses the instruments and techniques of the composer’s time. Founded in Boston in 1815, H&H 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). Handel and Haydn today, under Artistic Director Harry Christophers’ leadership, 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. H&H is widely known through its local subscription series, tours, concert broadcasts on WGBH/99.5 Classical and National Public Radio, and recordings. Its recording of Sir John Tavener’s Lamentations and Praises won a 2003 Grammy Award and two of its recordings, All is Bright and Peace, appeared simultaneously in the top ten on Billboard Magazine’s classical music chart. In September 2010, H&H released its first collaboration with Harry Christophers on the CORO label, Mozart’s Mass in C Minor—the first in a series of live commercial recordings leading to H&H’s Bicentennial in 2015. The 2010–2011 Season marked the 25th anniversary of Handel and Haydn’s award-winning Karen S. and George D. Levy Educational Outreach Program, which brings music education, vocal training, and performance opportunities to 10,000 students annually throughout Greater Boston and beyond.
Handel and Haydn Society is funded in part by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov.