(Boston) The Handel and Haydn Society has named acclaimed conductor, cellist and keyboardist Jonathan Cohen as its 15th Artistic Director, leading the nation’s oldest performing arts organization into its next chapter of musical excellence. At 44, Cohen is one of the youngest Artistic Directors in H+H history and will continue to build upon the orchestra and chorus’s reputation of delivering uniquely rewarding, engaging, and emotionally moving concert experiences when he begins his role in the 2023-24 Season. As Founder and Artistic Director of the UK-based early music ensemble Arcangelo, he is a two-time Gramophone Award winner and Grammy Award Nominee. In addition, Cohen is Music Director of Quebec’s Les Violons du Roy, Artistic Director of the Tetbury Festival in the UK, and Artistic Partner of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
“Three years ago, H+H embarked on an extensive search focusing on the top talent in the Baroque and Classical world,” said Robert N. Shapiro, Chair of the Handel and Haydn Board of Governors. “We are incredibly impressed by Jonathan’s musicality, his knowledge and passion. He inspires the musicians and engages audiences. Jonathan is a joy to watch and to know. His warm inviting spirit is apparent to all who attend his concerts – he draws you in to the music making.”
“Working with H+H is a dream come true, allowing me to work collaboratively with some of the most skilled and passionate musicians on the planet to create beautiful performances that will leave a lasting impact on our audiences,” said Jonathan Cohen. “I look forward to sharing my love and passion with future audiences and creating moving and memorable experiences in the concert hall.”
Cohen made his debut with the Handel and Haydn Society on February 28th, 2020, at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall leading the orchestra and chorus in a memorable performance of Haydn’s Symphony No. 6, Le Matin and Symphony No. 92, Oxford, along with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1. He returned in 2022 to tackle three jewels of the Baroque era, Vivaldi’s Gloria; CPE Bach’s Magnificat, and J.S. Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 1. Cohen kicked off the 2022-23 Season in October to rave reviews with H+H with Glories of Bach, a performance the Boston Globe wrote: “brimmed with confidence and a high level of musicianship.” He is set to return December 15 and 18 to conduct H+H’s A Baroque Christmas at NEC’s Jordan Hall.
“From Jonathan’s first performances with Handel and Haydn it was clear that his approach to music-making aligns powerfully with what H+H is all about: a sense of immediacy, connection and engagement between musicians, audience, and composer,” said David Snead, Philip and Marjorie Gerdine President and CEO of the Handel and Haydn Society. “Jonathan understands that performing on period instruments is not an academic exercise; it’s about performing this music with the freshness and vibrancy of new music, regardless of when it was written. Jonathan does this extremely well.”
“Jonny elicits a sense of musical freedom and finesse from the Orchestra and Chorus that enchants the audience,” said cellist Sarah Freiberg, Chair of H+H’s Orchestra Committee. “His collaborative spirit and energy radiate palpable excitement from the stage adding a freshness and vibrancy to H+H’s top-notch performances.”
Born and raised in Manchester, England, Jonathan read music, studied cello, and had the position of Instrumental Scholar at Clare College, Cambridge, graduating in 2000. Following graduation, he co-founded the London Haydn Quartet, one of the world’s leading period instrument string quartets. Cohen would go on to create the early music ensemble Arcangelo in 2010. Through his work with Arcangelo, Cohen won two Gramophone Awards, Recital in 2012 and Best Baroque Vocals in 2017, and a Grammy nomination for Best Chamber Performance in 2018. He became Music Director of Les Violons du Roy, succeeding Bernard Labadie, in 2017. His new contract with the Handel and Haydn Society will begin in the 2023-24 Season and continue through the 2027-28 season.
Founded in 1815, H+H is now in its 208th consecutive season – the most of any performing arts organization in the country – and is the nation’s largest period instrument organization. H+H performs a 21-concert subscription season in Boston Symphony Hall and other leading venues, and has an active education program with seven youth choruses training hundreds of children in grades 2-12 every season.
The 2022-23 Season
The Marriage of Figaro November 17 + 18 Symphony Hall
Handel Messiah November 25 + 26 + 27 Symphony Hall
A Baroque Christmas December 15 + 18 NEC’s Jordan Hall
Beethoven + Mozart January 6 + 8 Symphony Hall
Beethoven Eroica January 20 + 22 Symphony Hall
Bach Brandenburg Concertos February 17 + 19 NEC’s Jordan Hall + Sanders Theatre
Mozart + Mendelssohn March 17 + 19 NEC’s Jordan Hall
Bach Easter Oratorio March 31 + April 2 Symphony Hall
Crossing the Deep June 1 + 4 JFK Presidential Library and Museum
Subscription packages are also available and may be purchased by calling 617-266-3605 or visiting handelandhaydn.org.
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 208 consecutive seasons (the most of any performing arts organization in the United States). 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. H+H has released 16 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.