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Ars Lyrica’s 2017-2018 season of Artful Women explores the diverse roles played by women in the musical culture of the 17th and 18th centuries: as muse, heroine, musician, and patron. Each of our six subscription programs at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts has a remarkable story to tell, and we’re very much looking forward to sharing some exceptional music with you.

This season it seems especially appropriate that we honor some of Houston’s leading female philanthropists, especially those who are longtime members of the Ars Lyrica family. Our season finale concert, A Day with Marie Antoinette on May 19th thus honors the mothers that contribute and support the arts but dedicate their efforts also to instilling a passion for the arts in the next generation. The concert honorees are Sonja Bruzauskas, Cecilia Duarte, Rachel Ellsworth, Sara Loperena, Dominique McCormick, Yvonnamor Palix, Ishwaria M. Subbiah, and Connie Kwan-Wong Join us for this special occasion with the purchase of an Honoree Package that includes VIP concert ticket, valet parking,  exclusive back stage young professionals pre-concert tour with dressing room drinks with Artistic Director, Matthew Dirst, and exclusive post-concert reception on-stage with wine, hors d'oeurves, desserts, and special performance by The Crumhorns, by filling out the form below.

CKW LUXE Magazine Article featuring Ars Lyrica Houston Honorees: Mothers

An Evening Honoring Mothers
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Package includes VIP Seating, Valet Parking, Young Professionals Pre-Concert Back Stage Tour with dressing room drinks with Artistic Director Matthew Dirst, and Invitation to post-concert reception on stage ($130)

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German born mezzo soprano Sonja Bruzauskas enjoys an active career in opera and concert, education, art administration and mothering. Sonja has sung and lectured at institutions such as Cal Arts, Vanderbilt, LSU, Rice University, the University of Houston, the Philosophical Society of Houston as well as numerous health institutions. Sonja’s philanthropic efforts focus on the creation of artistic events to support the community and to raise awareness of the arts. One of her creations is pARTnerschools, an organization that connects schools from different socioeconomic backgrounds through the arts. Sonja has served on the board of directors for the Houston Chamber Choir, the Philosophical Society at Rice, the Houston Tuesday Musical Club and the German Center Houston. Sonja as two daughters, Clara Sophie and Emilia Marie. "The arts stimulate my creative approach to mothering and they help me in my quest to make valuable contributions to our community.  By the same token, I aim for my own artistic contributions to inspire creativity in others."

Mexican born, Cecilia Duarte is an active and versatile singer in the Houston area. She created the role of Renata in the Mariachi opera "Cruzar la Cara de la Luna" which has travelled nationally and internationally with great acclaim, due to its originality and its story, which addresses the issue of immigration. Most of Cecilia's work revolves around early music, with Ars Lyrica Houston and Mercury Houston, as well as the premiering of new chamber operas, such as "Cruzar la Cara de la Luna," "Some Light Emerges," "After the Storm," and "A Way Home," with Houston Grand Opera, among others. Cecilia has worked with sever outreach programs in the city bringing  music to the Houston communities for people of a wade range of ages. Cecilia is also a jazz singer. Cecilia believes that art heals, and keeps universal values alive. She lives for art and likes sharing that passion with those that don't have easy access to it. "I have been blessed in this city to be ale to develop myself as an artist, and I am glad to use my talents to help others in different ways. It is my hope that my daughter develops her sense of compassion, and altruism, through art."

Dr. Rachel Ellsworth was born in Annapolis, Maryland and completed undergraduate and medical school training in Baltimore. Rachel relocated to Houston for her surgical training in the Texas Medical Center and achieved board certification in both General Surgery and Colon and Rectal Surgery.  Rachel is Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at Houston Methodist Hospital and is married to Dr. Warren Ellsworth, a plastic surgeon. Together, they are avid supporters of the performing arts in Houston and have leadership roles with Houston Grand Opera, Houston Chamber Choir, and Ars Lyrica to name just a few.  Their love for opera stems from a deep connection to Wagner, as Warren’s father was a heldentenor, famous for his role as Parsifal. Rachel and Warren were thrilled to welcome their daughter, Isabel, into the world almost two years ago. The arts have been an incredible force in Rachel and Warren’s life and they look forward to nurturing these important roots to help shape Isabel’s future.  As children of artists, Rachel and Warren believe that understanding the effort and sacrifice made by those involved in the arts sets a good example by which to live.

Sara Loperena is a native Houstonian and lifelong lover of the arts.  She earned bachelor's degrees in English and Theology from Marymount University and an MA in Theological Studies from St. Thomas University.  Sara’s passion for reading led her to found The Book Cycle, Inc. a 501(c)(3) organization that works to create a community of book lovers in Houston and beyond, organizing events where people can donate and take away books, all for free.  Sara and her husband Gabriel have passed on their love of music and art to their two children, Gabriel (4) and Nina (3), who regularly attend opera, theatre and musical performances with them."Children are naturally empathetic and creative. I believe that music and art nurture those qualities and form the basis of who they are as people, and as members of a community."

Dominique McCormick is a lyric soprano from New York known for her “superlative vocals complimented with wonderful expressiveness and impeccable comic timing” (Houstonia). She received her undergraduate and masters degrees from the Eastman School of Music. She continued her education and professional experience in France performing oratorio and operatic works with, l’Orchestre Nationale des Pays de la Loire, Théâtre d’Asnières, Théâtre du Tambour-Royal and upon her return to the United States, singing with Ars Lyrica and Opera in the Heights in Houston. She is currently finishing her doctoral dissertation on the vocal works of Marital Caillebotte. She is also proud to be the Co-Founder/owner and Artistic Director of Century Fine Arts, a music and fine arts school in Sugar Land, TX. The school’s mission is “Planting the Seeds of Creativity”. Not only does Century Fine Arts offer high quality private and group lessons but provides a free public concert series for Senior Living Centers, hospitals and small gatherings in the Fort Bend Area. Bringing musical performances and arts showcases to the community in a format that is open, welcoming and free is a very important goal for Century Fine Arts. "Although I have always considered myself to be a singer/musician, it wasn't until my role as a mother that my contribution to the artistic world became clear. Having children, and being a mother made me a stronger, more generous and altruistic artist. Giving music to others in the form of performing, teaching and philanthropy is one of the most fulfilling aspects of my life, thus creating a positive example for my son and daughter."

Yvonamor Palix, of French and Mexican origin, her father a former diplomat was Consul General of Mexico. Yvonamor has been an International art Gallerist and curator for over 25 years owning galleries in Paris, Mexico City and Houston. Her passion and expertise have led her gallery to be recognised by prestigious art institutions, these include select art fairs such as Basel, FIAC, ARCO, Chicago, MACO and Miami Basel to name a few. In her 25 years of activity she has helped launch the careers of many young artists. Several have been presented in the most important museums and official art biennials: Venice, Istanbul, Lyon, Site Santa Fe and Havana. In her spare time she collaborates with musicians, developing the concept of pairing classical music with specific paintings by artists from all around the world.  Her “pièce unique” concerts garnered rave reviews. Through her association with music ensembles such as Ars Lyrica who perform exquisitely curated repertoires and foment musicology she has been able to enjoy her love for classical music and continued to educate herself in this marvelous art. Yvonamor, her husband Mark and daughter “Oli” support the music arts in Houston in particular small ensembles because in Yvonamor’s words, “Small ensembles provide the public with intimate concert halls, uncommon programs rich with unique elements such as period instruments and including personal commentary by the music director, thus rendering the concerts an enriching experience for people of all ages and stratus.”  Yvonamor is an active board member of TFAA-Texas French Alliance for the Arts,  EFGH-Education Francaise Greater Houston, TAFS-Texas Association for French Solidarity, PART Pan American Round Table-Houston Chapter and curates fund raiser art events for associations such as the CAC-The Children’s Advocacy Center among others.

Dr. Ishwaria Subbiah is an oncologist and palliative care physician at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.  Through her patient care and research, she has developed an expertise in symptom management and preservation of quality of life through treatment for cancer.  Outside of her profession, she is an avid runner and hiker, enjoying the outdoors with her husband Vivek, also an oncologist at MD Anderson, and their children, Sasha (6), Nathan (4), and Ari (18 months).  Ishwaria is a passionate supporter of the performing arts in Houston, serving as a Trustee of the Houston Symphony and the Houston Grand Opera.  She recognizes the impact of the arts on community building and is committed to engaging the next generation of art lovers. She chairs the Steering Committee of the Young Associates Council of the Houston Symphony and spearheads the children’s initiatives of the Houston Symphony League.  

Connie Kwan-Wong is an entrepreneur, magazine publisher, and philanthropist who combines her many endeavors with her passion for charitable work. Connie has had the good fortune of being influenced by several different cultures during her life's journey. She was born in Hong Kong and resided there until the age of eleven when her parents moved the family to Australia. At twenty-one, she moved to the US to pursue her academic studies and launched her career as a pediatric sonographer, specializing in congenital heart diseases. Connie currently lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, Stephen Wong, and their two lovely daughters, Zoe (three years old) and Elly (one year old). Helping those who are less fortunate and spreading messages of hope have always been important goals for her. Connie established the Connie Kwan-Wong Foundation to help with her charitable works, especially those organizations serving children.The main purpose of her foundation is to raise awareness about the immediate problems and issues facing children in Houston, communicate the best methods to address them, and serve as a bridge between the wonderful Houston community and the reputable charitable organizations in the area. After creating her foundation, Connie began the CKW collection , which is a skincare and accessories company that helps fund the foundation. In 2015, she launched a philanthropic, inspirational, and quality living magazine to reinforce her passion for charity called CKW LUXE Magazine. Over the years Connie has built strong relationships through her long-standing community involvement with Houston Grand OperaBoys & Girls Harbor (TX)The Women's HomeKids' Meals, Inc., and HOPE Clinic. She has received multiple congressional recognitions, and in 2015 Connie was named one of the Top 30 Influential Women of Houston. From her professional career to her philanthropic efforts, Connie’s compassionate and warm nature have not gone unnoticed. In a gesture to honor the benefactress, the City of Houston recently proclaimed May 26, 2017 as CKW (Caring, Kindness, and Wisdom) Day. Catch her at any number of Ars Lyrica concerts and thank her for her service to the community!



Unable to attend? Consider a donation to Ars Lyrica Houston  in our honorees' name

An Evening Honoring Mothers  Package $130

  • Valet Parking
  • VIP Seating at the concert
  • Young Professionals Pre-concert Backstage Tour 
  • Post-Concert wine reception on stage with wine, hors d'oeuvres, and desserts