Through presentations of period instruments and demonstrations of historical performance practices, we strive to demystify the music of the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods.

Education Programs

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 three 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 STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Resources) 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 success of “Harp History” and “Renaissance Rock” inspired Ars Lyrica staff to develop a bilingual program in 2015 titled "Songs from the Heart," which introduces K-12 students to early vocal literature and period instruments.

Ars Lyrica Houston partners with Arts Connect to ensure equitable arts access for every K-8 Houston Independent School District student

Teacher & Collaborator Feedback

Songs from the Heart

Songs from the heart  at Eliot Elementary School, 2016

Songs from the heart at Eliot Elementary School, 2016

"Songs from the Heart" is an interactive, bilingual program that introduces K-12 students to early vocal literature and period instruments with an emphasis on Spanish & Latin American cultures.   This program, curated by mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte, percussionist Jesús Pacheco and gambist Pedro Funes, features impassioned solo vocal works accompanied by percussion instruments and the historical viola da gamba.  "Songs from the Heart" connects students to the musical heritage of earlier Spanish & Latin American cultures while examining the different roles in a classical music ensemble.


Harp History

Harp History at Country Day Montessori School, 2017

Seasoned educator and recording artist Therese Honey presents "Harp History," a demonstration program that traces the evolution of the harp through Medieval, Renaissance and Modern times.  Excellent for PK-5 students, this program brings ancient and modern-day harps into the classroom, striving to give students an understanding of how instruments produce sound and evolve over time.  

Key to this program are basic musical and acoustic concepts:  Shape, pitch, vibration, resonance and echo are demonstrated with the active participation of students.  "Harp History" includes a hands-on section, where students can play the instruments.

Renaissance Rock

In "Renaissance Rock," The Crumhorn Collective, dressed in historical attire, introduces K-12 students to over twenty fascinating wind and string instruments of the Renaissance.   This energetic program brings history to life in rock star fashion, with a set-list that includes Europe's most beloved Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque dance & consort  hits from 1400 to 1720.  Through this lighthearted and highly interactive program, students explore the unique sound and instrumentation of Renaissance music while learning about earlier European cultures.

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
This project is funded in part by a grant from the City of Houston;  City's Initiative; City's Initiative Program through the Houston Arts Alliance.

Ars Lyrica provided a professional, high quality performance featuring talent and creative content unlike anyhting else that could be found in the area. As an organization, Ars Lyrica was easy to work with, and the program participants provided an excellent experience for the museum’s guests. Thanks for providing a fantastic program!
— Joey Milillo, Programs Coordinator at Bayou Bend Collection & Gardens
Jesus did a wonderful job of connecting the history to the music, and the songs were excellent choices. Jesus, Cecy, and Pedro were flexible with the crowd as it was a mix of young and old and I feel they gave everyone the attention they needed.
— Ryan Hernandez, Learning & Interpretations Coordinator, Rienzi
I love that the kids have the opportunity to move and dance to the music. The kids really enjoy being able to touch the instruments. The use of “period” vocabulary is great! I wish we had more time! I can’t imagine a better presentation.
— Shari Burke
The musicians were fantastic! Great music, instruments and interaction. Many thanks for coming! Look forward to seeing you again.
— Alan Krathaus
The presentation was interactive and engaged the kids with questions and songs and the connections made between music and the imagine was great. How you connected modern music to older music and how you encouraged appreciate for different kinds of music was really nice.
— Matthew Trimble
It was very interactive which kept the student interest level the entire time. The story telling component was fabulous.
— Teri Johnson
The musicians were not only knowledgeable about the subjeect, but were able to relate to the students very well. Ienjoyed the fact that they broke up the speaking sections with performances & also took turns describing their role in the ensemble. The best part of the exposure the students are getting to that type of music
— Brandon Cornett


In addition to its subscription series in Zilkha Hall and school outreach activities, Ars Lyrica provides performances throughout the Houston community. Ars Lyrica's outreach initiative is aligned with its mission to revive important musical works and practices. Through presentations of period instruments and demonstrations of historical performance practices, we strive to demystify the music of the Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical periods.

We’re so pleased for Ars Lyrica and its growing success under your direction and Matthew’s phenomenal talent. It’s a joy to see and hear!
— Adele and Toni Gorody, MFAH patrons
“What a perfect afternoon; you should be proud! It was a fete champetre, made me think of rococo and Boucher was so lovely, I do so admire and respect you for what you are achieving with Ars Lyrica. Please keep it up and give us more Rienzi experiences. Compliments to all the performers.
— Ann Thompson, Rienzi patron

An ongoing partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts has resulted in a number of programs and lectures at MFAH facilities (including Bayou Bend, Rienzi, and MFAH main galleries) that complement visual art exhibitions.

Through joint events and cross-promotion with partners including Harmony in the Air, The Houston Methodist Hospital's Center for Performing Arts Medicine, Houston Early Music Festival, M.E.C.A., Theater District Open House, Discovery Green, The Children’s Museum of Houston, Foreign Consulates, and Heights Kids’ Day of Music, Ars Lyrica continues to reach out to new and diverse audiences and make a significant impact on the community.


Songs from the Heart Artists

Mezzo-Soprano Cecilia Duarte last appeared with Ars Lyrica Houston as the Angel in Handel's Jephtha.  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, Arizona Opera, and Fort Worth 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, and After the Storm, (HGO) and most recently, the opera Some Light Emerges also with 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, Mercury, the Orchestra Redefined, and Ars Lyrica Houston. Past performances include Zerlina in Don Giovanni (Opera in the Heights), Jessie Lydell in A Coffin in Egypt (HGO), and Sarelda in The Inspector, Tituba in The Crucible, and Loma Williams in Cold Sassy Tree with the University of Houston. Future performances include the Christmas Neighborhood Series with Mercury in November-December and a new production of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna with New York City Opera in January of 2018.

Jesús Pacheco obtained his Bachelors Degree in Percussion from the Superior Conservatory in Seville, Spain.  He was part of the Andalusia’s Youth Orchestra, as well as the Divan, under the baton of Michael Thomas and Baremboim, respectively, for several years.  A versatile percussionist, Jesús performed at the Festival Ensemble 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 in Houston four years ago, where he is now a very prolific performer and music educator,  having already performed with many ensembles and companies in town such as Bach Society, Mercury, Ars Lyrica, Octave Illusion, the Latin American Philharmonic Orchestra, Houston Brass Band, amongst others.  Jesús is currently the Assistant Band Director at Strake Jesuit College Preparatory in Houston-TX, and keeps an active life as a performer in the area.

Pedro Funes is currently the Assistant Orchestra Director at Oak Ridge High School in Conroe ISD.  He graduated  in 2007 from the University of Houston where he majored in Double Bass performance under Dennis Whittaker.  In addition, he received his Master's Degree in Early Music at Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where he was the recipient of an Associate Instructorship.  Mr. Funes studied viola gamba and vielle with Wendy Gillespie and performed baroque bass in the IU Baroque Orchestra under Stanley Ritchie.  He has performed in master classes for Alison Crum, Mary Springfels, and Brent Wissick. In past summers he has attended the Texas Music Festival, Gark Karr Kamp, VdGSA Conclave, and Tafelmusik Baroque Institute. In Fall 2011 he co-founded Les Touches and in Summer 2015, the ensemble was afinalist for the York International Young Artist Competition.  He was the Teaching Assistant for the Beginner Viols at Conclave 2016. He has performed with Austin Baroque Orchestra, Ars Lyrica and Texas Early Music Project. Currently he is the President of Viols of Houston , Vice President of Houston Early Music, Director of the Young Players Weekend for the Viola Da Gamba Society of America and Principal Bass for Austin Baroque Orchestra.  Fall 2015 he received a Loan Consort from Viola Da Gamba Society of America and started a viol class at Oak Ridge High School with 14 students in the initial program. 

Renaissance Rock Young Artists in Residence: The Crumhorn Collective

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 performances at The Centrum, Miller Outdoor Theatre, and on The Hobby Center's Discovery Series.  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.

Harp History Artist: Therese Honey

Childhood fascination with the harp blossomed into an exciting and successful career as a professional harpist and recording artist for this Houston native. As a self-proclaimed “crusader for music of great heritage, Therese Honey draws on her vast knowledge of early music history and her stunning virtuosity to bring alive for her audiences the incredibly beautiful music of the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque eras.  Honey's unique specialization keeps her in demand for lectures, concerts and festival engagements across the United States. With a vast and varied repertoire that includes familiar classical and popular favorites, she is a first choice for performances at social occasions as a soloist or with chamber groups.

Therese Honey delights and entertains her listeners when she performs on any one of her collection of harps, which range in size from the modern gold Concert Grand harp to the ancient Celtic harp.   Therese Honey is a specialist in Celtic and Early harps, with a background in classical pedal harp. Therese tours throughout the United States and in 1997 she performed at the 20th Annual Carolan Festival in Keadue, Co. Roscommon, Ireland.