The Handel and Haydn Society’s artistic director, Harry Christophers, is slated to step down following the end of the 2020-2021 season. He'll be completing a 12-year tenure, one of the longest in the organization’s history.
Christophers said he feels privileged to work with the organization's talented and passionate musicians and vocalists who are part of the 204-year-old Baroque and classical music ensemble.
“By the end of 2021, I’d have done 12 seasons here which is quite something, really," Christophers said during a phone interview. “And I think, you know, I'm very, sort of, proud of actually what I've achieved here. I think handing over the orchestra and chorus in a really good frame of mind and a good artistic side — it is good timing, really, and the perfect time to hand over the baton, as they say.”
According to a statement from the Handel and Haydn Society, an international search is already underway to find Christophers’ successor. Under Christophers’ direction, the Handel and Haydn Society recorded 12 albums, the most of any of the organization's musical directors.
For Christophers, who resides mainly in England, one of the most rewarding experiences of leading the Handel and Haydn Society was seeing the audience members’ faces at the end of a concert.
“People who come to our concerts ... at the end of it they are smiling,” Christophers said. “There's a great relief from whatever has happened in their day and their total enjoyment and it's great to see … it's actually quite unique, I have to say. Boston has a very special place. You have great audiences and you have great artists also in the city.”
Christophers isn’t worried about the organization hiring a new artistic director. “I'm sure H and H will choose somebody who's absolutely wonderful and that's brilliant,” he said before offering a small piece of advice to his successor. “It's very important that that new artistic director finds his or her artistic policy ... I think it's very important that somebody follows the music, that they feel ... totally at home with [the] programming.”
As for Chistophers’ last two seasons, he said he planned to revisit some of his favorite pieces. “I'm looking forward to Bach's 'Matthew Passion' revisiting Haydn's 'Creation' next season.”
The 2019-2020 season begins in October at Boston’s Symphony Hall with “A Mozart Celebration.” Mozart's "Jupiter Symphony" (his longest and last) and Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" are also on the schedule. To see the full programming schedule, visit the Handel and Haydn Society’s website here.