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Handel and Haydn Society to sing ‘Ode to Joy’ on the Esplanade

H+H will perform at the Hatch Memorial Shell for the first time since 1987.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/file

For Handel and Haydn Society, Beethoven’s joyous Symphony No. 9 is perfect fare for celebrating the return of Boston’s performing arts scene.

“It’s a very joyous piece,” H+H president and CEO David Snead said in a phone interview this week. “It’s all about uplifting and a coming together of humanity.”

The H+H Orchestra and Chorus will perform the full symphony, complete with the choral “Ode to Joy,” Aug. 27 at the Hatch Memorial Shell on the Charles River Esplanade. The free 7 p.m. concert will feature the fourth movement’s usual four vocal soloists plus an undetermined number of H+H singers. It will mark H+H’s first performance at the storied outdoor venue since 1987.


It’s sure to be a happy occasion for those who missed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at Tanglewood this summer. The piece usually closes out summer concerts in the Berkshires, but the BSO announced in March that it was tabling the tradition over concerns about aerosol transmission of COVID-19. In fact, the entire 2021 Tanglewood festival was planned to exclude works featuring vocalists.

The Esplanade concert will kick off H+H’s 207th season of performances, with the company’s next two dates on Oct. 8 and 10 at Symphony Hall. In event of rain, the Symphony No. 9 performance will be moved to Aug. 28. Find more details at

Riana Buchman can be reached at