ARS LYRICA PRESENTS ESTHER & JONAH

Media Contact: Shannon Langman for Ars Lyrica Houston | 713-622-7443 | slangman@arslyricahouston.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ARS LYRICA HOUSTON PRESENTS ESTHER & JONAH

HOUSTON, TX (January 8, 2018) – Ars Lyrica Houston presents the fourth concert of the 2017/2018 Artful Women season with Esther & Jonah in Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center on Friday, February 16 at 7:30pm. Produced in collaboration with Bach Society Houston as part of the 2018 Houston Early Music Festival, this program comprises two concise music dramas from opposite ends of the 18th century: G. F. Handel’s Esther (1718) and Samuel Felsted’s Jonah (1775). With gorgeous arias and stirring choruses, Handel’s first English-language oratorio celebrates an Old Testament heroine’s ultimate victory over the forces of evil. Such works provided valuable models for Samuel Felsted, a composer born to an English family in Jamaica in the early 1740s. His concise setting of the story of Jonah and the whale is the first American oratorio. Ars Lyrica continues to honor local female philanthropists, spotlighting Robin Angly whose dedication and philanthropic efforts for the arts are inspirational.  

Soloists: Jennifer Bates, soprano; Eduardo Alberto Tercero, tenor; Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, countertenor

Music has been a big part of honoree Robin Angly's life since childhood. She grew up in a household that exposed her to singers like Joan Sutherland, Ella Fitzgerald and a lot of Bach, she began with piano lessons at the age of five, then at fourteen, voice lessons at Aspen Music Festival. Robin has sung with the Houston Grand Opera, The Houston Symphony Chorus and has a philanthropic passion to support the arts, the opera, and the symphony. Robin and her husband, Miles Smith have served on the Ars Lyrica Houston board with a tenure that has instilled a passion for the organization's mission and they hold it close to their hearts. Both Robin and Miles are excited to be a part of the process of bringing the organization's first fully staged Baroque opera, Agrippina that feature two rising operatic countertenors, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, and John Holiday.

Maine native soprano Jennifer Bates enjoys a multifaceted career in the opera, concert and recital worlds. Recent engagements include the role Pepik in the NY Philharmonic production of The Cunning Little Vixen, multiple appearances with NY City Opera, Zemlinsky’s Der Zwerg with the American Symphony Orchestra, and was the featured soloist at the Bach Vespers Cantata Series just steps from Lincoln Center for ten years. Highlights of previous seasons have included performances at Carnegie Hall, singing Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the New England Symphonic Ensemble, and many European engagements, including Elgar’s The Kingdom with Maestro Leonard Slatkin and the Philharmonia in the prestigious Three Choirs Festival, Haydn’s Creation with Robert Tear at the Dartington International Summer Festival, Fauré’s Requiem with Sir David Willcocks at Royal Albert Hall, and Verdi’s Requiem at Windsor Castle. She has also appeared with the Masterworks Chorale in Boston, the Orchestra of Lon- don and the London Pro Arte Orchestra. Her repertoire spans the gamut, ranging from Bach, Monteverdi and Couperin to the more avant-garde works of Schönberg, Eisler, and Berg. As a recitalist, she has performed in multiple venues in the US and abroad, including a tour of Great Britain performing Britten’s Holy Sonnets of John Donne, and a recital at the French Embassy in Washington D.C. Jennifer is a strong advocate of late 20th and 21st century music, singing numerous premieres of new works and revamping classics of the contemporary repertoire, including Lukas Foss’ Time Cycle, and Miss Donnithorne’s Maggot by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. She appears regularly on NY City Opera’s VOX series and has sung on the ALEA III series in Boston. Ms. Bates was a multi-year Chamber Music Fellow at the Aspen Festival, and a Scholar at the Steans Institute for Singers at the Ravinia Festival in Chicago.

Tenor, Eduardo Alberto Tercero, 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 Premiere 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 the role of Franky in Forever Plaid.

Countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen has quickly been identified as one of opera and early music’s most promising rising stars. In 2017, he was named a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and First Prize Winner of the Houston Grand Opera Eleanor McCollum Competition. In the 2017-18 season, he joins the Houston Grand Opera Studio, as the first countertenor in the studio’s history, for productions of Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Strauss’ Elektra. He also joins American Bach Soloists for performances of Handel’s Messiah in San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. He made his European debut at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna, singing the primo uomo role of Timante in Gluck's Demofonte with baroque ensemble Il Complesso Barocco. Additional credits include performances with the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, the Leipzig Barockorchester, the Venice Music Project, and the Newberry Consort. www.aryehnussbaumcohen.com

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 4 for Ars Lyrica Houston)

– MORE –

Ars Lyrica Houston Esther & Jonah, February 16, 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 slangman@arslyrcahouston.org.

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).