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‘We have found the “wow” child!’ Handel and Haydn Society tracks down enthusiastic concertgoer

Stephen Mattin (left) and his grandson, Ronan Mattin, 9.
Stephen Mattin (left) and his grandson, Ronan Mattin, 9.(Stephen Mattin)

It was the “Wow!” heard ’round the concert hall — and now they know who said it.

The Handel and Haydn Society has located the young boy who captured the hearts of concertgoers and delighted the Internet when he let out an audible “Wow!” after the orchestra finished a piece by Mozart during a Boston Symphony Hall performance Sunday, the group said.

“We have found the ‘wow’ child!” the group announced in a Facebook post Thursday evening.

The child was identified by WGBH as Ronan Mattin, a 9-year-old from New Hampshire who is on the autism spectrum.

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According to the news station, Mattin was attending Sunday’s concert with his grandfather, Stephen Mattin.

Ronan Mattin’s response echoed through the concert hall and led to laughter and applause from the audience.

“I can count on one hand the number of times that [he’s] spontaneously ever come out with some expression of how he’s feeling,” Stephen Mattin told WGBH.

The performance was being recorded as part of the WCRB In Concert series, to be broadcast sometime in the fall. It was the Handel and Haydn Society’s final show of the season.

David Snead, president and chief executive of the Handel and Haydn Society, was so moved by Mattin’s reaction that it prompted him to reach out to WCRB for the recording of the special moment.

Snead then sent out an e-mail to concertgoers asking whether they knew who the boy was, so the Handel and Haydn Society could meet him and provide a copy of the recording to the family.

In the e-mail, Snead said in his 40-plus years of attending concerts he had never quite experienced a moment like the one that came when Mattin reacted to Mozart’s “Masonic Funeral.”

“While [conductor] Harry Christophers was holding the audience rapt in pin-drop silence following the music’s end, what sounded like a child of about six years of age couldn’t hold back and gave out a ‘Wow!’ heard round the hall,” Snead wrote to attendees in his plea to track the boy down. “The crowd cheered in enthusiastic agreement.”

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WCRB helped with the search by sharing the audio in a tweet to its followers Wednesday.

In a telephone interview with the Globe on Friday, Snead said he’s delighted that the boy was located with the public’s assistance.

He said the connection was made after coverage of his search for Mattin was picked up by multiple news organizations.

According to WGBH, a relative of Mattin’s saw the call-out on television and reached out to the society to let them know who the young man was behind the “Wow!”

Snead told the Globe he plans to set up a Skype call linking Ronan Mattin, his grandfather, and Christophers sometime soon, and he hopes to have the family back in the fall for another concert.

“It’s a really great family,” Snead said, “and they were so touched about the fact that we reached out to them.”


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.