Long before there was an official Presidents’ Day holiday, people still gathered to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. Back in February of 1815, Washington had died less than two decades earlier and a local choral concert was organized in his honor. Also celebrated on this occasion was the end of the War of 1812.
It was possibly at this very concert that a group of singers, let’s imagine them in a festive mood, first discussed the idea of founding a new choral society. By March 1815 it had become official: The Handel and Haydn Society was established “to promote the love of good music and a better performance of it.” The Society gave its first public concert in December of that year. It has endured to become the country’s oldest performing arts organization still in existence.