Ars Lyrica Houston Announces 2018/19 Season:  ​​​​​​​Out of the Box: Celebrating Ambition & Innovation

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MEDIA CONTACT:
Shannon Langman
Marketing & Office Manager
slangman@arslyricahouston.org
(713) 622-7443

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ars Lyrica Houston Announces 2018/19 Season: 
Out of the Box: Celebrating Ambition & Innovation  

Houston, April 7, 2018– Ars Lyrica Houston, the Grammy nominated early music ensemble, announces its 2018/19 season: Out of the Box: Celebrating Ambition & Innovation. Ars Lyrica Houston takes on its first full-length Baroque opera with Handel’s Agrippina plus the complete “Brandenburg” Concertos by J. S. Bach. Artistic Director Matthew Dirst has created a program “that highlights composers and works that are exceptional, definitive, unusual, even infamous.” With Bach’s six concertos appearing in pairs throughout the season, individual programs explore distinct ways of thinking about the general theme, from unexpected musical gifts to singular collections and composers.

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Re-Gifting with Royalty opens the season on Friday, September 21st and includes works of leading composers of the Baroque era who often repurposed their own works, especially when a royal patron needed a special gift. Bach’s “Six Concertos for Diverse Instruments” (as he titled them) were assembled, not composed afresh, for the Margrave of Brandenburg, while Couperin collected his chamber music at regular intervals for the royal seal of approval from Louis XIV. The fifth and sixth “Brandenburg” concertos turned the genre on its head, with an unprecedented harpsichord cadenza (in No. 5) and a violin-free texture of lower strings only (in No. 6). Soloists for this program include violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, flautist Colin St-Martin, harpsichordist and artistic director Matthew Dirst, and soprano Lauren Snouffer.

On November 16th & 18th, Ars Lyrica Houston presents its first fully-staged opera, Handel’s Agrippina. An instant sensation at its premiere in Venice in 1709, Agrippinaestablished the young Handel’s reputation as a theatrical genius. Its tuneful score, abundant humor, and classic Roman intrigue make for a delightful evening at the opera. The cast for Ars Lyrica’s production of this early masterpiece includes: Sofia Selowsky as Agrippina, John Holiday as Nero, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen asOttone, Camille Ortiz-Lafont as Poppea, Timothy Jones as Claudio, with stage direction by Tara Faircloth.

The New Year’s Eve program Baroque Razzle-Dazzle spotlights violinist Adam LaMotte and Ars Lyrica core instrumentalists, as we ring in 2019 with three dazzling concertos bookended by the annual dinner and gala events. The first and third “Brandenburg” concertos are brilliant ensemble works for strings and winds. Baroque Razzle-Dazzlepairs these works with an equally extravagant violin concerto by Bach’s close contemporary Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello, who served the Württemberg court in Stuttgart. 

Friday, February 15 Claudio Monteverdi’s spirited Scherzi musicali (“musical jokes”) program will include game-changing publications from 1607 and 1632 that gave life to one of the most famous debates in music history: Monteverdi’s experimental style of vocal writing favored the words, whose careful expression justified the occasional compositional impropriety. Soloists include soprano Dominique McCormick, mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte andbaritone Brian Shircliffe

On Saturday, March 30th the Houston premiere of Alessandro Stradella’s oratorio San Giovanni Battista, with soloists countertenor Jay Carter in the title role of Saint John the Baptist, soprano Sherezade Panthaki as Herodiade (Salome), and bass-baritone Sam Handleyas Herod.

 The season finale on Sunday, May 19thFrom Brandenburg to Esterházy includes Bach’s two remaining concertos and a concerto by Franz Joseph Haydn. The second “Brandenburg” concerto offers the set’s most unusual combination of soloists—recorder, oboe, violin, and trumpet—while the fourth is a stealth concerto, ostensibly for violin and two recorders. Baroque violinist Ingrid Matthewswill join harpsichordist and artistic director Matthew Dirst center stage, along with Paul Leenhouts(recorder), Kathryn Montoya(Baroque oboe), and Nathaniel Mayfield(natural trumpet).

Highlights of the 2018/19 season include the production of Ars Lyrica Houston’s first fully-staged opera, Handel’s Agrippinathe complete “Brandenburg Concertos”by J.S. Bach performed in pairs throughout the six season concerts, and the Houston premier of Alessandro Stradella’s oratorio San Giovanni Batista. Returning acclaimed soloists include countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, sopranos Lauren SnoufferSherezade Panthaki, andDominique McCormick and stage director Tara Faircloth.

 Ars Lyrica’s 2018/19 season of Out of the Box will include 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. Those who purchase season subscriptions by May 19, 2018 will receive additional benefits, including a complimentary ticket to one of the 2018/19 programs and major discounts to the New Year’s Eve Dinner & Gala -- a holiday tradition for our Houston patrons!

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). For high-resolution images contact slangman@arslyricahouston.org or (713) 622-7443.

 

Ars Lyrica Houston 2018/19 Season
Out of the Box: Celebrating Ambition and Innovation

Re-Gifting with Royalty

Friday, September 21 at 7:30 pm

Ars Lyrica season opener highlights leading composers of the Baroque era who often repurposed their own works, especially when a royal patron needed a special gift. Bach and Couperin were expert re-gifters: Bach’s “Six Concertos for Diverse Instruments” (as he titled them) were assembled, not composed afresh, for the Margrave of Brandenburg, while Couperin collected his chamber music at regular intervals for the royal seal of approval from Louis XIV. The fifth and sixth “Brandenburg” concertos turned the genre on its head, with an unprecedented harpsichord cadenza (in No. 5) and a violin-free texture of lower strings only (in No. 6). 

Agrippina — G. F. Handel

Friday, November 16 at 7:30 pm & Sunday, November 18 at 2:30 pm

An instant sensation at its premiere in Venice in 1709, Agrippina established the young Handel’s reputation as a theatrical genius. Its tuneful score, abundant humor, and classic Roman intrigue make for a delightful evening at the opera.

Baroque Razzle-Dazzle

Monday, December 31, 2018 at 9 pm

Ars Lyrica rings in 2019 with the first and third “Brandenburg” concertos, brilliant ensemble works for strings and winds. Baroque Razzle-Dazzlepairs these works with an equally extravagant violin concerto by Bach’s close contemporary Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello, who served the Württemberg court in Stuttgart. The celebration is bookended by dinner and gala for our most popular event of the year.

Scherzi musicali

Friday, February 15, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Ars Lyrica offers Monteverdi’s spiritedScherzi musicali(“musical jokes”) for the fourth season concert. These game-changing publications from 1607 and 1632 gave life to one of the most famous debates in music history: Monteverdi’s experimental style of vocal writing favored the words, whose careful expression justified the occasional compositional impropriety.

San Giovanni Battista — Alessandro Stradella

Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 7:30 pm

This 1675 oratorio tells the story of the death of John the Baptist with great flair and vivid drama. The prodigiously gifted Italian composer Alessandro Stradella took no prisoners in life or in art: his vocal lines, by turns acrobatic and deeply expressive, resemble his brief but spectacular career.

From Brandenburg to Esterházy

Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 6 pm

Ars Lyrica’s 2018/19 season finale travels from Brandenburg to Esterházy, with Bach’s two remaining concertos and a concerto by Franz Joseph Haydn. The second “Brandenburg” concerto offers the set’s most unusual combination of soloists—recorder, oboe, violin, and trumpet—while the fourth is a stealth concerto, ostensibly for violin and two recorders, though the violinist leaves everyone in the dust.

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).

For high-resolution images, please contact Shannon Langman at (713) 622-7443 or slangman@arslyricahouston.org

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