PERFORMANCE PROGRAMS by Season


Click on the concert title to view the digital copy of our printed program.

2018-2019

Re-Gifting with Royalty
Leading composers of the Baroque era 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).

2017-2018

A Day with Marie Antoinette
This special evening with France’s most famous queen includes a violin concerto by her music teacher Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, operatic excerpts from C. W. Gluck’s Orphée, and Haydn’s “Paris” Symphony No. 85, subtitled “The Queen.”

Long Live the Queen
In a program featuring the award-winning Moores School Concert Chorale, Ars Lyrica celebrates the musical legacy of two important royal patrons from the Baroque era with J. S. Bach’s rarely heard Trauerode, written for the funeral of Christiane Eberhardine of Saxony, and Handel’s Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne.

Esther & Jonah
Ars Lyrica’s 2018 Houston Early Music Festival program, offered in collaboration with Bach Society Houston, pairs two concise music dramas from opposite ends of the 18th century: Handel’s Esther (1718) and Samuel Felsted’s Jonah (1775). With gorgeous arias and stirring choruses in abundance, the former celebrates an Old Testament heroine’s victory over the forces of evil while the latter is the first American oratorio.

New Year's in Berlin
To ring in the new year, Ars Lyrica recreates a salon chez Sara Itzig Levy in Berlin, whose home was a meeting place for literary and musical giants, including Bach’s eldest sons and the young Felix Mendelssohn, Levy’s grandnephew. This program features a C. P. E. Bach double concerto for fortepiano and harpsichord, a work closely connected with our legendary hostess: at its 1788 première, Mme. Levy herself played one of the solo parts! The evening also includes an elegant pre-concert dinner and post-concert gala.

Italian Sirens
The decades around 1600 saw a remarkable flowering of female musical talent, virtuoso singers especially. Italian Sirens is devoted to these unique voices, as realized in the work of three remarkable early 17th-century composers: Isabella Leonarda, Francesca Caccini, and Barbara Strozzi.

Sweet Philomela                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         A program featuring exotic musical works inspired by Philomela, mythical princess of Athens, whose transformation into a nightingale has fascinated poets and musicians for centuries, including Johann Adolph Hasse’s lyric cantata L’Armonica, showcasing the ethereal sounds of the glass harmonica.

 

2016-2017

Don Quixote's Excellent Adventures                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 One of history’s greatest literary figures, Don Quixote has inspired many musical works over the years, from Renaissance songs to a Broadway musical. Ars Lyrica’s 2016/17 season finale features core string players and singers in a pan-European survey of Baroque music devoted to this Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha.  

Les Plaisirs de Versailles
Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s witty chamber opera Les Plaisirs de Versailles—an ode to both wine and chocolate—plus chamber works by François Couperin and Joseph Bodin de Boismortier.

Handel’s Jephtha
Handel’s final masterpiece, on a searing Old Testament tale about a foolish promise and its consequences—featuring a stellar cast of soloists and the award-winning Moores School of Music Concert Choral from the University of Houston.

Bachanalia: Cantatas for the New Year
A festive program rings in the New Year with cantatas J. S. Bach wrote specifically for this holiday plus other celebratory works. 

Classical Spectres
Interest in the uncanny brought about tall manner of oddities during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, from was museums to gothic fiction. In chamber works from this era, musical depictions of the supernatural took on a life of their own outside the opera house. Shorn of traditional theatrical trappings, the purely aural spectres of J.C.F. Bach and Beethoven make powerful impressions, indeed.

Scalable Heights
Beloved works from late Baroque masters who catered to the emerging cult of the virtuoso, including J.S. Bach’s “Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen.”


2015-2016

AUTUMN HUNT
Featuring mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton in Haydn’s Arianna a Naxos and violinist Adam LaMotte in Vivaldi’s Autumn from The Four Seasons.

HOMAGE TO THE SUN KING
This program features Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s sparkling chamber opera Les arts florissants plus royal motets and chamber works by Jean-Baptiste Lully and Jean-Philippe Rameau.

FIRE AND ICE
New Year’s Eve 2015 brings a star-studded evening with music that is by turns hot and cold. Vivaldi’s Winter sets the stage for Handel’s Apollo e Dafne, which tells the story of too-ardent love and a unique transformation. 

ALL IN A GARDEN GREEN
Spring from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons plus spirited songs of the season from various cultures. PART OF THE 2016 HOUSTON EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL

AN EASTER MESSIAH
The Orpheus Chamber Singers return to collaborate on Handel’s Messiah with conductor John Butt, 2014 Gramophone Award Winner, and stellar soloists.

SUMMER ZEPHYR
Featuring Vivaldi’s Summer, Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto In D Minor, W. A. Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate, with countertenor John Holiday, baroque oboe and recorder player Kathryn Montoya, and harpsichordist Matthew Dirst.

ars lyrica houston, early music houston, early music, baroque music, bach, handel, chamber music
 

2014-2015

Flying High
French and Italian Baroque chamber works animate this program, featuring French-Italian Soprano Céline Ricci and viola da gambist Mary Springfels in G. F. Handel’s evocative Tra le fiamme.

Bach & Sons: At the Café 
This program includes a rarely performed ode by Carl Phillipp Emanuel Bach, his younger brother Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach’s cantata Die Amerikanerin, plus patriarch Johann Sebastian Bach’s beloved “Coffee Cantata” in a new staging by Lynda McKnight. 

¡Felices Fiestas! 
On New Year’s Eve, Ars Lyrica offers a festive evening of celebration and beautiful music featuring soprano Melissa Givens and mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte.

Love Letters
A swoon advisory is thus in effect for this performance featuring duets from Claudio Monteverdi and cantatas by Vivaldi and Scarlatti.

Bach & Sons: At Court
Ars Lyrica’s season-long tribute to the Bach family continues with an evening of concertos by Johann Sebastian, Carl Philipp Emanuel, and Johann Christian Bach.

Alexander's Feast
Our 2014/15 season finale provides abundant vocal and instrumental fireworks, with Alexander’s Feast—Or, The Power of Music by G.F. Handel, produced in collaboration with the Bach Society Houston.