Artistic Director Matthew Dirst, soprano Dominique McCormick, mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte, and baritone Brian Shircliffe offer an out-of-the-box Valentine’s treat with Monteverdi’s “musical jokes.”  

 HOUSTON, TX (JANUARY 8, 2019) - - - Leading from the harpsichord, Artistic Director Matthew Dirst joins returning soloists Dominique McCormick (soprano), Cecilia Duarte (mezzo-soprano), and Brian Shircliffe (baritone) and the Ars Lyrica ensemble for “Scherzi musicali” on Friday, Februrary 15, 2019 at 7:30 pm in Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. The jovial Valentine program explores the delicious colors of love in  Claudio Monteverdi’s comical vocal work, Scherzi musicali (“musical jokes”). 

Houston vocal favorites return to thrill Ars Lyrica Houston audiences as soloists for a comical Valentine’s program. Soprano Dominique McCormick with “superlative vocals, wonderful expressiveness and impeccable comic timing,” and baritone Brian Shircliffe with “a sure vocal presence, a natural, unblemished sound and an easy delivery” join “honey mezzo” Cecilia Duarte with “feisty charm” for a jovial performance. 

Soloists: Dominique McCormick, soprano; Cecilia Duarte, mezzo-soprano; Brian Shircliffe, baritone 


About the Soloists

Lyric baritone Brian Shircliffe is a San Antonio native and has sung with Dayton Opera, Lake George Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Opera in the Heights, Opera Vista, and has performed with numerous opera companies including: Houston Grand Opera, most recently seen in the world’s first Mariachi opera, Cruzar la Cara de la Luna. Brian holds a Master’s of Music from The University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, and teaches voice at San Jacinto College in Houston where he currently resides. Following his performance as Dancaïro in Carmen, with Houston’s Opera in the Heights, the Houston Chronicle said: “The best individual singing of the evening came from Brian Shircliffe as Dancairo, [with] a sure vocal presence, a natural, unblemished sound and an easy delivery.” 

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

Ars Lyrica Houston, Scherzi musicali, Friday, February 15, 2019 at 7:30 pm
Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby Street

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