New Year's in Berlin Press Release

Media Contact:

Shannon Langman for Ars Lyrica Houston | 713-622-7443 |



HOUSTON, TX (November 22, 2017) – Ars Lyrica Houston presents the third Artful Women season concert, New Year’s in Berlin on December 31st at 9:00pm in Zilkha Hall at The Hobby Center. Ars Lyrica’s most popular event of the year, the New Year’s Eve celebration is a full evening of separately ticketed events including dinner at 7:30pm, concert 9:00pm, and gala at 10:15pm which will feature a special German cabaret performance by mezzo-soprano, Sonja Bruzauskas. The New Year’s in Berlin concert program is inspired by Sara Itzig Levy whose home was the meeting place for musical giants, Bach’s eldest son and the young Felix Mendelssohn, and includes several works from her legendary collection. Ars Lyrica continues to honor local female philanthropists, spotlighting Kathryn Godfrey whose dedication and philanthropic efforts for the arts are inspirational. 

Concert soloists: Mario Aschauer, fortepiano; Colin St-Martin, traverso; Matthew Dirst, harpsichord Gala soloist: Sonja Bruzauskas, mezzo-soprano

Born and raised in Germany, mezzo-soprano Sonja Bruzauskas was trained on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Along with her expansive stage career in Musical Theater, Opera and Operetta, Sonja is a well established concert singer and recitalist, focusing on German Art Song and contemporary music. Appearances include the Staatsoperette Dresden, where Sonja was under full contract for several years before moving to the United States, the Santa Fe Opera, Volkstheater Rostock, Nordharzer Staedtebundtheater, Babelsberger Filmorchester, Bochumer Symphoniker, Baton Rouge Symphony, Da Camera, the Bach Society Houston, Mercury, the Greenbriar Consortium, the Houston Chamber Orchestra, the Houston Chamber Choir, ROCO, The Roundtop Institute and Ars Lyrica Houston.

Austrian conductor, harpsichordist, and musicologist Mario Aschauer works at the interface of music scholarship and performance. He has built up a diverse repertoire specializing in Austrian Baroque music. As member of the Calamus-Consort he has performed at numerous renowned early music festivals such as Resonanzen Vienna, Bach Fest Leipzig, and Itinéraire Baroque en Périgord Vert (France). Having earned a degree in conducting from the Linz Bruckner Conservatory at the young age of seventeen, Mario had already conducted major works from the choral and symphonic canon before he graduated from high school. He holds a PhD in musicology from the University of Vienna and an MA in harpsichord performance from the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna. Before Mario came to Texas to teach music history, historically informed performance, and early keyboard instruments at Sam Houston State University, he was a postdoctoral fellow and visiting guest lecturer at the Yale School of Music.

Colin St-Martin, who since childhood was interested in 17th and 18th century European culture, began playing the traverso at the age of 14.  His studies took him to Brussels, Belgium, where he obtained a First Prize (bachelor of music) from the Royal Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of the renowned master, Bart Kuijken. He returned to the US to complete graduate work at the Early Music Institute at Indiana University. Currently, Mr. St-Martin is busy as a performer and recording artist with many early music ensembles across the US in addition to being sought after as a master teacher. 

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at 713.315.2525. (Press 4 for Ars Lyrica Houston)

– MORE –

Ars Lyrica Houston New Year’s in Berlin, December 31, 2017
Artful Women: Muse, Heroine, Musician, and Patron

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For high-resolution images, please contact Shannon Langman at 713-622-7443 or

About Ars Lyrica Houston

Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and conductor Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica Houston presents a diverse array of music from the 17th and 18th centuries on period instruments. Its local subscription series, according to the Houston Chronicle, “sets the agenda” for early music in Houston and it also appears regularly at major festivals and conferences, including the 2014 Berkeley Early Music Festival & Exhibition. Ars Lyrica’s distinctive programming favors Baroque dramatic and chamber works, and its pioneering efforts have won international acclaim: the ensemble’s world première recording of Johann Adolf Hasse’s Marc’Antonio e Cleopatra, hailed by Early Music America as “a thrilling performance that glows in its quieter moments and sparkles with vitality,” was nominated for a Grammy Award® for Best Opera 2011.

Ars Lyrica Founder & Artistic Director Matthew Dirst is the first American musician to win major international prizes in both organ and harpsichord, including the American Guild of Organists National Young Artist Competition (1990) and the Warsaw International Harpsichord Competition (1993). Widely admired for his stylish playing and conducting, the Dallas Morning News recently praised his “clear and evocative conducting” of Handel’s Alexander’s Feast, which “yielded a performance as irresistibly lively as it was stylish.” Dirst’s recordings with Ars Lyrica have earned a Grammy nomination and widespread critical acclaim. His degrees include a PhD in musicology from Stanford University and the prix de virtuosité in both organ and harpsichord from the Conservatoire National de Reuil-Malmaison, France, where he spent two years as a Fulbright scholar. Equally active as a scholar and as an organist, Dirst is Professor of Music at the Moores School of Music, University of Houston, and Organist at St Philip Presbyterian Church in Houston. He is the author of Engaging Bach: The Keyboard Legacy from Marpurg to Mendelssohn (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and the editor of Bach and the Organ (University of Illinois Press, 2016).