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The Handel and Haydn Society is among the oldest continuously performing arts organizations in the United States. Founded as a choral society in 1815 by a group of Boston merchants, the society performed the American premieres of Handel's Messiah in 1818 (and annually since 1854), Haydn's Creation in 1819, Verdi’s Requiem in 1878, and Bach’s B Minor Mass in 1887.

Since 1986, when Christopher Hogwood first came on board as artistic director, the society has been a leader in Historically Informed Performance (HIP), using only the instruments and performance techniques known to composers in their day. The Period Orchestra is made up of a core group of musicians from the U.S. and abroad who are specially trained to play period instruments. The fully professional Chorus is a virtuoso ensemble featuring New England's most talented singers.

Recently the H&HS has teamed with acclaimed director Chen Shi-Zheng to stage opera performances incorporating Asian dance and innovative special effects. The world premiere CD of Sir John Tavener's Lamentations and Praises, with the vocal ensemble Chanticleer, won a Grammy Award in 2003.


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