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The mission of the Handel and Haydn Society is to perform Baroque and Classical music for chorus and period-instrument orchestra at the highest level of artistic achievement. Founded as a choral society in 1815 by a group of Boston merchants, Handel and Haydn is among the oldest continuously performing arts organizations in the country. From its earliest years, the Society established a tradition of innovation, performing the American premieres of Handelís Messiah in 1818, Haydnís Creation in 1819, Verdiís Requiem in 1878, and Bachís B Minor Mass in 1887. The Society began performing Handelís Messiah annually in 1854. Throughout its history the Handel and Haydn Society has brought the worldís most beautiful music and its greatest artists to local audiences, setting a standard for orchestral and choral performances that remains unparalleled.