Ars Lyrica’s primary educational goal is to make early music engaging and accessible for young people who would otherwise seldom encounter live classical music.
To help children experience the world of early music, Ars Lyrica has developed several educational outreach programs for schools. “Harp History” traces the development of the harp from the Middle Ages to modern times and is specifically designed for K-5 students to address and enhance the requirements of TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skill) standards. “Renaissance Rock” introduces K-12 students to period dances plus an array of period instruments including recorders, shawms, crumhorns, and bagpipes. Both are interactive in nature and designed to connect children intellectually and physically with an earlier culture. The expansion of educational outreach is one of major goals for Ars Lyrica. The success of “Harp History” and “Renaissance Rock” has inspired Ars Lyrica staff to develop a bilingual program titled "Songs from the Heart," which will introduce K-12 students to early vocal literature and period instruments.
Learn MORE about our programs and artists below!
In "Renaissance Rock," the Crumhorn Collective introduces students to more than fifteen fascinating wind and string instruments of the Renaissance. Through a lighthearted, varied, and highly interactive program featuring dance and consort music from England, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy, students explore the uniquely modular sound and instrumentation possibilities inherent to Renaissance music and instruments. The highlight is a “mixed consort” presentation, in which students are invited to participate by suggesting and hearing different instrument combinations for the dance tunes they get to know. When space permits, the students even get up and learn several simple Renaissance dances themselves, which allows them to connect with the music on a physical level and enhances their understanding of Renaissance culture. Students will leave excited about history, having thought critically about the similarities and differences between music's important societal roles in Renaissance and its roles in our own society.
In addition to in-school presentations, "Renaissance Rock" is also offered on the Hobby Center for Performing Art's annual Discovery Series. Click Here for More Details
“Harp History,” a workshop-style program dedicated to medieval, renaissance, and modern harps, is designed for smaller groups of K-5 students. Becky Baxter, a harp virtuoso, an experienced educator, and a recording artist, serves as harp instructor and program coordinator for the series.
Songs from the Heart
"Songs from the Heart," introduces K-12 students to early vocal literature and period instruments. This bilingual program, designed for big assemblies and curated by bilingual mezzo-soprano Cecilia and percussionist Jesus Manuel, will feature solo vocal works in various languages and styles (with special emphasis on Spanish and Latin American repertoire) accompanied by percussion and continuo instruments.
A smaller vocal residency, designed to give students with some musical experience a better understanding of the history of song, will include individual coaching and give students the opportunity to improve their performing skills and knowledge about early music.
Ars Lyrica introduced "Songs from the Heart" to selected public schools in the Houston area during spring 2015 semester; the program was recently featured during the Heights Kids Day of Music.
To book an Outreach Performance in your school, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Ars Lyrica's office at 713-622-7443.
Ars Lyrica houston partners with The Arts Access Initiative to ensure equitable arts access for every K-8 Houston Independent School District student
Young Artists in Residence:
The "Crumhorn Collective" was founded in 2009 as a completely student-run renaissance band based at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. They have since gathered a sizable following through frequent outreach performances, concerts at private events, and lecture recitals, all performed on combinations of crumhorns, recorders, bagpipes, cornemuses, shawms, dulcian, viols, hurdy-gurdy, sackbut, cornetti, lute, and percussion.
With their impressive arsenal of instruments and exceptionally energetic and interactive programs, the group has gained extensive outreach experience in many of Houston's public schools, as well as at Ars Lyrica events and in concert at The Centrum. In 2010 they were awarded a Richter grant for music outreach, performed at Rice University’s McMurtry College Dedication, and were honored to premier a piece written for them by renowned composer Karim Al-Zand. The Crumhorn Collective is delighted to continue their relationship with Ars Lyrica Houston as their Resident Young Artist Ensemble this season.
Cecilia Duarte appeared with Ars Lyrica Houston last February in All in a Garden Green, Songs about Springtime. She created the role of Renata in the first opera with mariachi music Cruzar la Cara de la Luna with Houston Grand Opera, touring with it to the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, France, and then in later performances at Chicago Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera (revival), San Diego Opera and Arizona Opera. Cecilia is an active performer in the circle of contemporary music, and has premiered several works, such as Ethan Greene’s A Way Home (HGO and Opera Southwest), David Hanlon’s Past the Checkpoints, The Ninth November I was Hiding (HGO), and chamber pieces written by composers Mark Buller and Paul English also through HGO. An early music enthusiast, Cecilia has performed at the Oregon Bach Festival, the Festivalensemble in Stuttgart, Germany, and the Festival de Música Barroca of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, as well as performing often with the Bach Society Houston and Ars Lyrica Houston. Past performances include Zerlina in Don Giovanni (Opera in the Heights), Jessie Lydell in A Coffin in Egypt (HGO) and several operas with the University of Houston. Future performances include Harriet/First Responder in David Hanlon’s After the Storm with Houston Grand Opera in May 2016 and an Angel in G.F. Handel’s Jeptha with Ars Lyrica Houston.
Jesús Pacheco obtained his Bachelor Degree in Percussion from the Superior Conservatory in Seville, Spain. He was part of the Youth Andalusia’s Orchestra, as well as the Divan, under the baton of Michael Thomas and Baremboim respectively for several years. A versatile percussionist, he performed at the FestivalEnsemble in Stuttgart, Germany and the Bach Collegium (Stuttgart Bachakademie) under the direction of Helmut Rilling. He was a regular in the professional orchestras of the Andalusian region long before he moved to Houston.
He arrived to Houston four years ago, where he is a very prolific performer and music educator. Versatile percussionist, he has already performed with many ensembles and companies in town such like Bach Society, Mercury, Ars Lyrica, Octave Illusion, Latin American Philharmonic Orchestra, Houston Brass Band, etc. Jesús is the current Assistant Band Director at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston-TX, while keeping a really active live as a performer in the area.
Exploration of Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque harp repertoire along with performance practice research is a passion for native Texan, Becky Baxter. Her modern harp studies began with Beatrice Rose, 35-year veteran harpist with the Houston Symphony (now retired.) Ms. Baxter’s harp studies and career began during her undergraduate studies at the University of Houston while she simultaneously obtained her bachelor’s degree in organ performance. She continued studies at the Shepherd School of Music but her greatest inspirations in early music came from her studies in Milan, Italy under harp teacher, Mara Galassi.
Ms. Baxter has recorded on the Dorian and Naxos recording labels as a soloist and with groups such as Chatham Baroque and Catacoustic Consort. In addition to touring for concerts and teaching at workshops all over the nation, she loves being a part of the thriving early music scene performing with Ars Lyrica, Camerata Ventapane and Mercury Baroque in Houston, her home of over 50 years. Ms. Baxter regularly performs with Texas Early Music Project in Austin and teaches at workshops sponsored by the Texas Early Music Festival (aka “The Texas Toot”). Ms. Baxter also currently serves as music director at All Saints Episcopal Church in Stafford, Texas.