The US-based Handel and Haydn Society has announced that Jonathan Cohen will be its next artistic director. The Manchester-born conductor, cellist and keyboardist will succeed Harry Christophers, who stepped down in 2021 after 15 years as artistic director.

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Based in Boston, the Handel and Haydn Society is dedicated to performing music from the Baroque and Classical eras. It has been active for over 200 years, giving its first performance in 1815. That history makes it America’s oldest arts organisation. After Christophers – founder of the The Sixteen, whom we named one of the best choirs in the world – Cohen is the second successive British musician to take on the artistic director role.

He will also be one of its youngest artistic directors, having graduated from Clare College, Cambridge in 2000. Cohen was, was a co-founder of the renowned London Haydn Quartet: he also founded the UK-based early music ensemble Arcangelo.

Cohen calls the opportunity ‘a dream come true, allowing me to work collaboratively with some of the most skilled and passionate musicians on the planet’. He will take up the role at the start of the 2023-24 concert season: however, he has already enjoyed a successful run of concerts with the Society, directing performances of Vivaldi’s Gloria, CPE Bach’s Magnificat, and JS Bach’s Orchestral Suite No 1.

'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,’ adds David Snead, CEO of the Handel and Haydn Society. ‘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.’

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Jonathan Cohen pic by Marco Borggreve

Authors

Steve Wright
Steve WrightMulti-Platform Content Producer, BBC Music Magazine

Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.