Marin Alsop to Lead the Handel and Haydn Society in an American Premiere of Tracy K. Smith’s Adaptation of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”

(Boston August 9, 2021) The Handel and Haydn Society announced today that the August 27, 2021 concert at the DCR Hatch Shell featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 will include the US premiere of a new text to “Ode to Joy” by former US Poet Laureate and Massachusetts native Tracy K. Smith, and that this historic concert will be conducted by Marin Alsop. Alsop is a world-renowned conductor who made history by becoming the first woman to serve as music director of a major American Symphony when she took the position at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

One of the foremost conductors of our time, Marin Alsop represents a powerful and inspiring voice. Convinced that music has the power to change lives, she is internationally recognized for her innovative approach to programming and audience development, deep commitment to education, and advocacy for music’s importance in the world. In addition to her role at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Alsop also served as principal guest conductor with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the first female principal conductor with the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, and the first female chief conductor with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. A biopic about Alsop’s life titled “The Conductor” recently debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.

In 2020, Alsop launched the “Global Ode to Joy,” a worldwide celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday which would include new interpretations of “Ode to Joy” in various languages. Alsop would lead orchestras across the planet in performing the new works. In support of the “Global Ode to Joy,” Carnegie Hall commissioned Tracy K. Smith to reimagine her own version of “Ode to Joy” for the modern day. Due to the pandemic, it was never performed live. Now, with the help of the Handel and Haydn Society, Alsop will finally see her vision come to fruition as the Orchestra and Chorus perform Smith’s new text in front of a live audience.

“‘Ode to Joy’ is about standing up and being counted in this world. It’s about believing in our power as human beings. Everyone will be tied together by this experience,” said Alsop, “I think that’s the important element – that through this project, we will bring diverse communities together, communities who don’t normally work together.”

“Tracy K. Smith’s passionate plea for joy is the perfect representation of the feeling we all have welcoming the arts back to Boston,” said David Snead, President and CEO of the Handel and Haydn Society. “Smith’s vibrant adaptation of ‘Ode to Joy’ breathes new life into this classic work of art, allowing our audience to be inspired by this masterpiece in an entirely new way.”

The Handel and Haydn Society will perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, “Ode to Joy,” on Friday, August 27, 2021, at 7:00 PM. The concert is free and open to the public. If there is rain, the concert will be performed the following night.

Media sponsors for the performance include The Boston Globe and CRB.

The Handel and Haydn Society is committed to the health and safety of our musicians and audiences. H+H will follow all health guidelines put forth by the local health department.

In addition to the concert on August 27th, the Handel and Haydn Society’s 2021–22 Season Performances will include:

Vivaldi The Four Seasons, October 8 + 10, 2021 at Symphony Hall
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6, Pastoral, November 5 + 7, 2021 at Symphony Hall
Handel Messiah, November 26 + 27 + 28, 2021 at Symphony Hall
Bach Christmas, December 3, 2021, at St. Cecilia Parish + December 5, 2021, at First Church Cambridge
Beethoven Symphony No. 7, January 7 + 9, 2022 at Symphony Hall
Haydn + Mozart, January 28 + 30, 2022 at Symphony Hall
Bach + Vivaldi Gloria, April 1 + 3, 2022 at Symphony Hall
Haydn The Creation, April 29 + May 1, 2022, at Symphony Hall

Subscription packages are now available with great savings and may be purchased by calling 617-266-3605 or visiting Subscribers will receive the benefit of access to H+H’s digital streaming season. Single tickets will go on sale in August 2021.

About the Handel and Haydn Society

Boston’s 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 206 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. The artistic director of the Handel and Haydn Society is Harry Christophers. Under Christophers’s leadership, H+H has released 15 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.

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