US’ oldest performing institution raises over $13.5m

Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society is celebrating its third century, buoyed by a fundraising campaign which raised more than $13.5 million.

As the society launches its 202nd season – making it the oldest continuously performing arts organisation in the US – it has more than tripled its endowment through an unprecedented capital campaign.

The Instrumental Voices Campaign raised $13.52 million, exceeding its goal by $1.5m, and fuelling plans for education and community concerts as well as international touring.

The Handel and Haydn Society has also revealed a new online concert streaming series, a new recording, and a new video series which showcases musicians and their period instruments.

Campaigning success has also been backed up at the box office: subscription sales are more than double that of last year.

The 2016-17 season opens on 23 September with artistic director Harry Christophers conducting a programme including Bach’s Magnificat at Boston’s Symphony Hall.

“We are humbled,” said W Carl Kester, chairman of H+H’s board of governors, “by this incredible, broad support, and what it says about H+H’s value to the community. It’s wonderful to know that live performances of the masterworks from the Baroque and Classical eras still elicit excitement in modern audiences.”

Speaking to The Boston Globe, artistic director Harry Christophers said: “We’ve been working really hard at bringing period music to the forefront of people’s minds,” adding that they hoped to appeal beyond the “open-toed sandal brigade. We’re getting to a wider audience, and that’s the main thing. We don’t want to be this intimate, slightly insular, and only for the cognoscenti [organisation]. This is music for everybody.”

He continued: “Classical music is not different from pop music. We just need to take the barriers away and get people excited”, adding that he was “always conscious of ever-aging audiences.”

“We’ve been too prim and proper about it.”