National Hispanic Heritage Month

Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, on the approval of Public Law 100-402.

The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period.

Read More about Hispanic Heritage Month on www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov


During the month of October, proceeds from Ars Lyrica Houston's Record sales will benefit the GREATER HOUSTON LULAC COUNCIL. 

LULAC Council 4967 advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, health, housing and civil rights of the Latino population of Houston and the surrounding area.

Learn More about LULAC HERE



"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 Duarte and percussionist Jesus Manuel, features 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, includes individual coaching and gives students the opportunity to improve their performing skills and knowledge about early music.

Ars Lyrica introduced "Songs from the Heart" during theSpring 2015 semester; the program was also recently featured during the Heights Kids Day of Music.

"Hispanic Heritage means the result of the clash in between the Spanish and the American pre-colombine world, giving birth to not one but different new cultures, music styles, art… It's also the way our birthplaces look, they way our food tastes, they happy lives we try to live, no matter the circumstances, because is in us, the drive to enjoy our lives…  Hispanic Culture is extensive. In time, territory, races, etc. It's Deep. That makes our art/music varied, original, authentic and broad. For those reasons, it's likable, it's fun, it attracts and keeps the audience because it's deep… Deep sad, deep joyful, historically deep… "

percussionist Jesús Pacheco Mánuel

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"Hispanic culture is very important to me, and should be to anyone living in Houston. Houston is made up of a cornucopia of cultures, and there are a myriad of different Hispanic cultures that, if brought to light, would enrich our lives. There are so many people of Hispanic extraction living in Houston - from Mexico, Central and South America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, etc. Each culture brings it's own flavor and should be brought to light.
I have a special fondness for Guatemala, and although I have visited the country each year for over a decade, I am still learning about different aspects of their culture, especially the richness of Mayan culture. Learning about art, music, religion, and other traditions enriches my life. I have attended many concerts of traditional Mayan music and have played violin down there - I even had a marimba lesson. In order to learn about another culture, one has to get to know the people who are of that culture. Learning about Mayan culture has allowed me to form relationships with people I would not have ordinarily gotten to know. Through music, I have had great experiences that have allowed both me and my Mayan friends to learn about each other. I have been privileged to share the music of Bach in remote Mayan towns, and in turn, have been exposed to religious and popular music that most people never have the opportunity to hear.
One of the great challenges music groups in Houston face is how to welcome and include the Hispanic community. As a child, I thought of western music as only including white European men. In fact, after seeing a chamber music concert in Austria as a teenager, I was told by the first violinist that girls cannot become classical musicians. I felt pushed away, excluded - and my heritage was the same as that of most classical composers/performers! As I grew, I sought out female composers and female musicians, looking for a connection. There is a plethora of Hispanic music, classical and otherwise, that needs to be sought out and performed so that children of Hispanic extraction can feel a sense of belonging, too. Also, as I grew and learned to appreciate all kinds of music, we in the music world should do all we can to welcome the Hispanic community and, if they are not aware, show them the beauty that is found in all types of classical music. By doing that we would also bring the communities together through communication and fellowship."

- Erika Lawson, viola

Hispanic Artist Spotlight:


Kathryn Montoya teaches baroque oboe and recorder at Oberlin Conservatory and the University of North Texas. She appears with a variety of orchestral and chamber music ensembles including the internationally-acclaimed Boston Early Music Festival Orchestra, Tafelmusik, the Wiener Akademie, Arion, Pacific Musicworks, and Apollo’s Fire among others. Kathryn received her degrees at Oberlin Conservatory and Indiana University School of Music, Bloomington. While at IU she was the recipient of the prestigious Performer’s Certificate and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Germany.

Recent projects include the Globe’s Tony award winning productions of Twelfthe Night and Richard III on Braodway, concerts and master classes in Shanghai, and tour of Steffani’s Niobe, Regina di Tebe with Philippe Jaroussky, Karina Gauvin and the BEMF orchestra.Kathryn very much enjoys the various thrills of recording, has been broadcast on NPR's Performance Today and can be heard on the Erato, Naxos, CPO, NCA, Analekta, and Dorian Sono Luminus labels.

She can be seen next in All in a Garden Green during the Houston Early Music Festival 2016.


Cecilia Duarte made her main stage debut at Houston Grand Opera with the world premiere of Cruzar la Cara de la Luna in 2010, giving life to Renata, and touring with that production to Paris where she performed at the Théâtre du Châtelet and later on at San Diego Opera and Chicago Lyric Opera.

Ms. Duarte debuted with Ars Lyrica as Daniel in Handel’s Susanna, and was a soloist for the 2014 New Year's Eve performance of ¡Felices Fiestas!

Upcoming performances include singing for Nobel prize Mario Vargas Llosa in October with the Casa Cultural de las Americas, an appearance in Charpentier’s chamber opera Les arts florissants (Nov. 2015) and All in a Garden Green, songs about springtime (Feb. 2016) with Ars Lyrica Houston. 


Eduardo Alberto Tercero, tenor, a native of Panama City, Republica de Panama, is described as a “dashing” performer by the Houston Chronicle and was also listed in Symphony Magazine’s Guide to Emerging Artists.

As a concert artist his credits include the World Premiere of Nicholas of Myra by Robert Nelson in the role of Marcus, Piacere in the Houston Premiere production of Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo e della Verita, Adamo in the Houston Premiere production of Il Primo Omicidio by Scarlatti, Messiah by G. F. Handel with the Des Moines and La Cross Symphony Orchetras, Houston Chamber Choir and Bethany (KS) and Augustana (IL) Colleges, Montiverdi’s Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610 with Ars Lyrica Houston in conjunction with both the Houston Chamber Choir and Orpheus Chamber Singers of Dallas and his Houston Symphony debut as the Narrator in Copeland’s The Lincoln Portrait. Most recently he has appeared in the World Premier production of O Columbia with the Houston Grand Opera,  Music Box's production of Godspell in the role of John the Baptist/Judas, the Houston Premiere production of Adam Guettel's Myths and Hymns with A Bit of a Stretch productions and as lead ensemble member of the Premier production of Defy Gravity: A Stephen Schwartz Songbook with Standing Room Only productions. A longtime member of the Houston Chamber Choir under the direction of Robert Simpson, he will be making his season debut with Cantare Houston under the baton of Amy Solberg this coming season. He is a frequent soloist for Ars Lyrica Houston under the baton of Dr. Matthew Dirst and Mercury Baroque under the baton of Antoine Plante.  He can also be heard in the Newport Classics' recording of Cassanova’s Homecoming by one of America’s leading composers, Dominick Argento, and is the tenor soloist for the World Premiere recording of Giovanni Paolo Colonna's Psalmi ad Vesperas (1694) now available from MSR Classics. He can be seen next in All in a Garden Green during the Houston Early Music Festival 2016.