What we want, who we are

The Göttingen International Handel Festival is one of the oldest early music festivals for early music. It has been held in the university town of Göttingen for 12 days in May every year since 1920. At the 2023 Festival, over 11,000 music enthusiasts flocked to Göttingen to attend around 70 events in Göttingen and southern Lower Saxony. Since the 2021/22 season, Jochen Schäfsmeier has been the Festival's Managing Director and George Petrou its Artistic Director. The Greek conductor and director conducts the FestspielOrchester Göttingen, which brings together early music specialists from all over the globe each year.

An opera production customarily forms the centerpiece of the Festival's program. This is supplemented by oratorios, gala concerts, chamber music concerts and contemporary crossover formats. An academic symposium and the chamber music competition göttingen händel competition round off the program. In addition to the Deutsches Theater and the Stadthalle Göttingen, venues include unusual locations such as castles, churches, wine cellars, old industrial halls and the pedestrian zone. For children there is the educational program "Händel 4 Kids!" which is active not only in concerts during the Festival but also in schools throughout the year.

Looking back and yet looking forward: from May 18-29, 2023, the Göttingen International Handel Festival focused on Greek antiquity under the title Hellas! George Frideric Handel tapped into the infinite wealth of mythology for his operas and oratorios. No one could be better suited for today's rendition than the internationally renowned Handel connoisseur and seasoned opera expert George Petrou, from whom we can expect special musical accents again this year as our Artistic Director. Together with Managing Director Jochen Schäfsmeier, he has created an outstanding Festival program, which you can find on this website.

The Festival opened with the oratorio Hercules (HWV 60) on May 18 in St. Johannis Church. This has been followed on May 19 at the Deutsches Theater by the premiere of our Festival opera Semele (HWV 58), the first staged performance of an oratorio in the history of the Göttingen International Handel Festival. The Athens Chamber Choir, a brilliant young ensemble from the Greek capital, could be secured for Handel's magnificent choruses. A striking combination of text and music could be experienced with Georg Anton Benda's melodrama Medea on May 25 at the Freie Waldorfschule Göttingen. And then, on May 29, the wonderful Jeanine De Bique and Concerto Köln whisked you away to a glittering gala world. The soprano's uniquely glamorous voice breathes a whole new life into the bold female opera characters.

With new venues, special programs and the popular formats Café George and the Lunch Concert, Hellas! could be experienced far beyond Göttingen in the region as well. We were eagerly tracking the göttingen händel competition, which this year was once again feature the prize of our Händel-Gesellschaft.

Informations of the programm of this years festival season can be found here.