HISTORY - About Us
Ars Lyrica Houston is an ensemble dedicated to providing audiences with historically-informed performances, of the highest caliber, of music from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Ars Lyrica Houston will set new standards of excellence in period-instrument programming and performance locally, nationally, and internationally.
Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and conductor Matthew Dirst and incorporated in 2003 as a 501(c)(3) organization, Ars Lyrica relies on a core group of Houston’s finest period-instrument musicians, which it augments regularly with internationally renowned guest artists. Ars Lyrica has created a distinctive identity among ensembles that specialize in Baroque music through its innovative programming: Artistic Director Dirst draws on a rich repertory of chamber and dramatic music, often highlighting exceptional works that merit revival. Its local subscription series is popular with audiences and critics alike, and its recordings have garnered international critical acclaim and recognition, including a Grammy nomination for Best Opera 2011.
Since 2000 Houston’s classical music scene has expanded significantly, with period-instrument groups now thriving in the local community and an annual Houston Early Music Festival attracting national attention. Ars Lyrica Houston (ALH) has played a leading role in this transformation—which connects local audiences to a priceless musical heritage—through its diverse concert, recording, and outreach activities. ALH offers a broad range of music from the 17th and 18th centuries in local subscription series of six programs annually, several of which also tour to nearby venues. The organization’s growing list of commercial recordings have earned a Grammy nomination and have brought international attention to Houston as an early music center.
ALH offers an annual subscription series at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts as well as touring, special event, and outreach programs to underserved communities. Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center is an ideal home base for ALH subscription programs because of its central location, intimate size, warm natural acoustics, and expert support staff. Season programming at Zilkha Hall is typically organized around a broad central theme, which individual programs examine from a variety of angles.
Over the last decade Ars Lyrica has toured its subscription programs throughout greater Houston, including venues in Spring, Cypress, Jersey Village, Pasadena, College Station, and Bryan, TX. ALH also partners frequently with other Texas- based non-profits (choral and dance groups, for example) on large-scale programs like Baroque oratorios and operas. An ongoing partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts has resulted in a number of programs at MFAH facilities (including Bayou Bend and Rienzi) that complement visual art exhibitions. Ars Lyrica’s appearances at major early music festivals (Boston in 2011, Berkeley in 2014) draw international attention to Houston as a center of period-instrument performance.