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January 20, 2022
Handel and Haydn Society Gets $10M Donation, Its Largest Ever
Handel Hayden

November 28, 2021 — The Handel and Haydn Society, a nonprofit choral group based in Boston that focuses on Baroque and Classical music, on Friday announced it received “a transformative gift" of $10 million, the single largest donation it has received since its founding more than two centuries ago.

The gift, which was given outright, was donated anonymously in honor of Harry Christophers, artistic director of the Handel and Haydn Society (H&H), who will be stepping down in May after concluding his thirteenth year, and will establish the Harry Christophers Fund for Artistic Excellence.

H&H said the new fund will support Christophers’s farewell season and support conductor and soloist fees, orchestra and chorus compensation, audio and video recording and distribution, and touring.

“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 will become conductor laureate after he concludes his tenure next spring. H&H is conducting a search for Christophers’s successor.

H&H said the anonymous donor issued a statement, which noted, “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.”

H&H said that during Christophers’s tenure “the organization has been transformed. H+H has grown to be regarded as one of the finest Baroque and Classical ensembles in the nation.”

Shapiro told The Boston Globe that the $10 million windfall will go into the organization’s endowment, increasing it to approximately $27 million from $17 million, which was approximately four times what it was at the beginning of Christophers’s tenure in 2009.

Nine years ago, H&H received two gifts of $1 million each, then the largest it had received until that time. The gifts were made by Jane and Wat Tyler and Karen Levy. Wat Tyler and Levy were members of the H&H board of governors.

For the year ending June 30, 2020, H&H reported $6.38 million in revenue, of which $4.15 million came from contributions and grants, and $5.94 million in expenses, according to its most recently available federal financial information filing.

Founded in Boston in 1815, H&H is considered the oldest continuously performing arts organization in the United States. Its mission is to enrich life and influence culture by performing Baroque and Classical music at the highest levels of artistic excellence, and by providing engaging, accessible, and broadly inclusive music education and training activities.

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