HOUSTON, TX (March 19, 2014) – Ars Lyrica Houston, the Grammy nominated early music ensemble, announces a 2015/16 season that mixes beloved masterworks of the Baroque with rare gems from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Six subscription programs, all of which take place in the intimate and lively acoustics of Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, include Ars Lyrica’s annual New Year’s Eve gala plus collaborations with the critically acclaimed New York Baroque Dance Company and the Orpheus Chamber Singers. Soloists include mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton (2013 Cardiff Singer of the World), tenor Aaron Sheehan (2015 Grammy Winner for Best Opera Recording), countertenor and rising star of the international opera stage John Holiday, violinist Adam LaMotte, recorder virtuoso Kathryn Montoya, and Ars Lyrica Artistic Director and harpsichordist Matthew Dirst.
An essential part of Dirst’s artistic vision for the season, as he explains, is to “examine some of the most familiar musical rituals of the Baroque within a context that allows us to hear those works afresh. Playing the music on period instruments isn’t quite enough: we need periodically to see how such iconic works are part of a larger musical dialogue, one that began at the moment of their creation and continues to this day.” Seasonal Rituals thus features the four individual concerti of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons on separate “seasonal” programs whose musical selections range widely, from Renaissance consort songs to a Haydn hunt cantata.
Highlights of the 2015/16 season include a French Baroque chamber opera (part of a program commemorating the 300th anniversary of the death of the “Sun King” Louis XIV) and a complete performance of Handel’s Messiah with a stellar cast of soloists and guest conductor (and recent Gramophone winner) John Butt. Ars Lyrica’s performances of Messiah in Houston and Dallas will be accompanied by a public symposium devoted to this oratorio’s peculiar cultural baggage, with speakers including Michael Marissen, whose 2014 book Tainted Glory in Handel’s Messiah (Yale University Press) has opened a previously insular area of scholarship to wide public attention.
A new logo and “look” accompany the new season, as Ars Lyrica continues to expand and diversify its offerings.
Those who purchase season subscriptions prior to May 22 will receive additional perks, including a complimentary ticket to one of the 2015/16 programs and major discounts to the New Year’s Eve Dinner & Fundraising Gala. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.arslyricahouston.org or call the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at 713.315.2525. (Press 1 for Ars Lyrica Houston)
Ars Lyrica also celebrates the release of two new commercial recordings during 2015. Heart and Soul: Devotional Music from the German Baroque (Centaur Records, Spring 2015) features countertenor Ryland Angel and harpsichordist/organist Matthew Dirst with Ars Lyrica core string players. Ars Lyrica’s world première recording of Alessandro Scarlati’s La sposa dei Cantici (Sono Luminus, Fall 2015) features soprano Meghan Lindsay and three of the world’s leading countertenors—John Holiday, Jay Carter, and Ryland Angel—along with Ars Lyrica string and continuo players, all under the direction of Matthew Dirst.