Donation Helps Establish the Harry Christophers Fund for Artistic Excellence

The Handel and Haydn Society has just received a transformative gift of $10 million in honour of Artistic Director Harry Christophers. The money was donated outright and anonymously and will help create the Harry Christophers Fund for Artistic Excellence. H+H announced the donation before Friday’s performance of Handel’s Messiah at Boston’s Symphony Hall. At the same time, H+H also named Christophers as Conductor Laureate; the title will take effect after Christophers concludes his tenure as Artistic Director, in May 2022. H+H also announced he would be honoured at a gala celebration at Symphony Hall on May 9, 2022. Christophers is in his 13th and final season as Artistic Director.

The $10 million donation is the largest single gift in H+H history and will have a lasting effect on America’s oldest performing arts organisation. While the donor asked to remain anonymous, they said in a statement, “Harry has fulfilled the mission of the Handel and Haydn Society. I wish to ensure that the next artistic director propels the magic, joy, and learning Harry Christophers created to new levels. I want the new artistic director and H+H to ensure it is the best in the US if not the world as to what it does, transforming lives with unsurpassed excellence.” 

“This breathtaking gift will have a profound and lasting impact on the organization,” said Rob Shapiro, Chair of the H+H Board of Governors. “This gift allows H+H and the new artistic director to take what Harry has started and build on it, bringing H+H to new and broader audiences and expanding our repertoire as we continue to explore the vast baroque and classical catalog.”

Christophers was appointed Artistic Director at H+H in 2009, the 13th artistic director in the organisation’s history. During his tenure, the organisation has been transformed. H+H has grown to be regarded as one of the finest Baroque and Classical ensembles in the US. Christophers led the organisation through its 2015 Bicentennial. He has hired more than 60% of the current roster of musicians, whom he has led in 15 commercial recordings, the most of any H+H artistic director. There has been an increase in touring, sharing the H+H magic with audiences at Tanglewood and in New York City.

The Harry Christophers Fund for Artistic Excellence will support Christophers’s farewell season and extend his legacy in perpetuity. The Fund will support conductor and soloist fees, orchestra and chorus compensation, audio and video recording and distribution, and touring.

“The title of Conductor Laureate and the Fund are just two ways of saying thanks to a leader who has given more than we could have ever asked for in his tenure as Artistic Director,” said David Snead, President and CEO of the Handel and Haydn Society. “Through the Fund, Harry’s impact on H+H will be felt for decades to come.”

Donors can support the Harry Christophers Fund for Artistic Excellence at handelandhaydn.org/harry-christophers-fund-for-artistic-excellence/.

H+H’s 2021-22 Season Performances include:

Bach Christmas – December 4  

First Church in Cambridge – December 3 + 5 Sold out

Beethoven Symphony No. 7 – January 7 + 9 Symphony Hall

Haydn + Mozart – January 28 + 30 Symphony Hall

Bach + Vivaldi Gloria – April 1 + 3  Symphony Hall

Haydn The Creation – April 29 + May 1 Symphony Hall

About the Handel and Haydn Society

Boston’s Grammy-winning Handel and Haydn Society is dedicated to performing Baroque and Classical music with a freshness, a vitality, and a creativity that inspires all ages. H+H has been captivating audiences for 207 consecutive seasons (the most of any performing arts organization in the United States) speaking to its singular success at converting new audiences to this extraordinary music, generation after generation. Today, H+H’s Orchestra and Chorus delight more than 50,000 listeners annually with a nine-week subscription series at Boston Symphony Hall and other leading venues. Through the Karen S. and George D. Levy Education Program, H+H supports seven youth choirs of singers in grades 2-12 and provides thousands of complimentary tickets to students and communities throughout Boston, ensuring the joy of music is accessible to all. H+H’s numerous free community concerts include an annual commemoration of the original 1863 Emancipation Proclamation concert on December 31. The artistic director of the Handel and Haydn Society is Harry Christophers. Under Christophers’ s leadership, H+H has released 15 CDs on the Coro label and has toured nationally and internationally. In all these ways, H+H fulfills its mission to inspire the intellect, touch the heart, elevate the soul, and connect us with our shared humanity through transformative experiences with Baroque and Classical music.

About Harry Christophers CBE

Harry Christophers stands among today’s great champions of choral music. In partnership with The Sixteen, he has set benchmark standards for the performance of everything from late medieval polyphony to important new works by contemporary composers. Under his leadership The Sixteen has established its hugely successful annual Choral Pilgrimage, created the Sacred Music series for BBC television, and developed an acclaimed period-instrument orchestra. Highlights of their recent work include an Artist Residency at Wigmore Hall, a large-scale tour of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, and the world premiere of James MacMillan’s Stabat mater; their future projects, meanwhile, comprise a new series devoted to Purcell and an ongoing survey of Handel’s dramatic oratorios.

Harry Christophers has served as Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society since 2008 and has worked as guest conductor with, among others, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and the Deutsches Kammerphilharmonie. Christophers’ extensive commitment to opera has embraced productions for English National Opera and Lisbon Opera and work with the Granada, Buxton and Grange festivals. Harry Christophers was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s 2012 Birthday Honours list.

He is an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, as well as the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and has Honorary Doctorates in Music from the Universities of Leicester, Canterbury Christ Church, Northumbria and Kent. A New Heaven: Harry Christophers and The Sixteen, Choral Conversations with Sara Mohr-Pietsch was published in August 2019 by Faber & Faber for the choir’s 40th anniversary.