Handel and Haydn Society's new 2021-22 season opens October 8 and GBH Radio's Henry Santoro interviewed David Snead, President and CEO of the Handel and Haydn Society, which performs baroque and classical music. The interview below is edited for clarity.

Henry Santoro: The upcoming season, the company's 207th season, stretches from October of this year into May of next year. And I don't use this word often, but this season looks to be epic on several levels. So why don't you tell us why?

Snead: I guess it is epic on several levels. The first level is the repertoire of the programming. We really tried to program works that we thought would bring people back into the hall and make them want to be at live concerts again, [to] play music that would be uplifting and inspiring.

So, you have Beethoven's Sixth and Seventh Symphony, starting with Vivaldi Four Seasons, the Messiah — this is our 168th consecutive year performing that. And that's paired with some new works that over the past year, we've really dug deeper and tried to find voices that were neglected in the past. It is all wrapped around celebrating Artistic Director Harry Christopher's final season. This is his 13th year with us and it is about him doing what he does best with H and H.

Santoro: How emotional will that be on May 1st of next year at Symphony Hall in Boston, when the program comes to a close and he takes his final bow?

Snead: It'll be quite a moment, Henry, particularly since that final piece of the Haydn creation, which he just loves and always wanted to make that his final work with H and H, it really shows off the chorus in the orchestra and all their magnificence.

When he told me that this [was] going to end his reign — it took me a while to get off the floor, but then we said, "let's make this something to celebrate." It has been 13 years. His mark on H and H is as great or greater than any other artistic director in our 207-year history. So, yes, that will be quite the moment.

"We survived the last pandemic back in 1918 — we were around for that. So, this was not our first rodeo."
-David Snead

Santoro: Over the past year, the company, like many others, was forced to transition through the pandemic. It was devastating for the performers and staff. They must be on the edge of their seats right now, waiting to get in front of an audience.

Snead: Yeah, it has been an incredibly challenging but ultimately successful season. We survived the last pandemic back in 1918 — we were around for that. So, this was not our first rodeo. Of course, the tragedy of the pandemic that the whole world has felt the past few years is something that we cannot forget. But I think the musicians, they live to perform for live audiences. And while they understood the reasons for not doing that this past year, it is going to be quite a moment when we take the stage in October.

GBH News Intern Yiming Fu assisted with production of this segment.