March 24, 2010

NEC to Bestow Honorary Doctorate on Sir Roger Norrington during Handel and Haydn Society Concert, April 9 in Symphony Hall

Degree Pays Tribute to Conductor's Extraordinarily Vital Interpretations, Historically Informed Performance Practice

Sir roger NorringtonSir Roger NorringtonNew England Conservatory will bestow an honorary Doctor of Musical Arts on conductor Sir Roger Norrington during the Handel and Haydn Society concert, Friday, April 9 in Symphony Hall.  Sir Roger will be conducting an all-Beethoven program that night composed of the Fourth and Sixth ("Pastoral") Symphonies.  The degree recognizes the conductor's career-long achievements in the discovery and modern-day application of historic performance practices and the extraordinary vitality and insight of his interpretations. 
NEC President Tony Woodcock will award the degree from the Symphony Hall stage.
A native of Oxford, England, Sir Roger has been a pioneer in the field of historically informed performance since he founded the Schütz Choir in 1962. He went on to create the London Classical Players in 1978 with whom he toured and made numerous seminal recordings, including a renowned series of Beethoven symphonies. Sir Roger's work on scores, sound, orchestra size, seating, and playing style has had a profound effect on the way 18th and 19th century music is now perceived. He is in great demand by symphony orchestras world wide and regularly conducts orchestras in Berlin, Vienna, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and London. Since 1998 Norrington has been Chief Conductor of the Radio Symphony Orchestra of Stuttgart.
H and H logoSir Roger Norrington was Artistic Advisor of the Handel and Haydn Society from 2006-2009 and continues a strong collaboration with H&H that brings unique interpretations of the classical repertoire on period instruments. While Artistic Advisor of the Society, he took the ensemble to the BBC Proms in London for performances of Haydn’s The Seasons, and led several programs that shaped the Haydn anniversary celebration in 2009. Sir Roger helped guide the Society as it mounted its search for a new Artistic Director, which culminated in the appointment of Harry Christophers, who took over this season.  He has also performed frequently and memorably in Boston as a guest with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and with the Boston Early Music Festival.

Known as a musical maverick, Sir Roger has famously contended that contemporary audiences have little idea how seemingly familiar works actually sounded when they were written. Throughout his career, he has set himself the task of rediscovering those sounds—something that many listeners and fellow musicians have sometimes found unsettling.  'I don't set out to be shocking," the conductor said in a Boston Globe interview last year. "I set out to find the truth - that's all it's about. The music is more important than our nice feelings about 'That's how music goes.' "
Sir Roger is among six eminent musicians being honored by the Conservatory this year. At its Commencement Exercises on May 23, NEC will also bestow honorary doctorates on jazz great/music education leader Quincy Jones, author/critic Alex Ross, composer Louis Andriessen, master viola teacher Karen Tuttle, and NEC-trained pianist-composer-orchestrator Roger Kellaway.

 For further information, check the NEC Website or the Handel and Haydn website.


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The Handel and Haydn Society is a professional chorus and period instrument orchestra internationally recognized as a leader in the field of Historically Informed Performance, a revelatory style that uses the instruments and techniques of the time in which the music was composed. Founded in Boston in 1815, the Society is the oldest continuously performing arts organization in the United States and has a longstanding commitment to excellence and innovation: it gave the American premieres of Handel’s Messiah (1818), Haydn’s The Creation (1819), Verdi’s Requiem (1878) and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion (1889). Under the leadership of Artistic Director Harry Christophers, the Society is committed to its mission “to perform Baroque and Classical music at the highest levels of artistic excellence and to share that music with as large and diverse an audience as possible.” The Society is widely known through its local subscription concerts, tours, concert broadcasts, and recordings. The Society’s Lamentations and Praises won a 2002 Grammy Award, and its two most recent CDs, All is Bright and Peace, appeared simultaneously in the top ten on Billboard Magazine’s classical music chart. Since 1985, the Society’s award-winning Karen S. and George D. Levy Educational Outreach Program has fostered the knowledge and performance of classical music among young people including in underserved schools and communities. This school year alone, the program will bring music education and vocal training to more than 10,000 students in the Greater Boston area.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory

Michèle Campbell, Senior Marketing Communications Manager
Handel and Haydn Society
617- 262-1815, ext. 119; Fax: 617-266 4217