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

Grammy Nomination

Ars Lyrica Houston is honored that the world première recording of J.A. Hasse’s Marc Antonio e Cleopatra was nominated for a 2011 Grammy Award. 

News + Media


“Ars Lyrica Houston makes a successful leap into opera with Handel’s Agrippina” - Steven Brown, Texas Classical Review

“Ars Lyrica Delivers a Magnificent Production of Agrippina” - D. L. Groover, Houston Press

“Before Handel’s ‘Messiah’ is everywhere, hear his lively opera” - Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle

“With Agrippina, Ars Lyrica Gets a Handel on Opera”
- Holly Beretto, Houstonia Magazine

“Castle Capers Thrill Houston Opera Lovers: Ars Lyrica Houston stages a vivacious rendition of Handel’s Agrippina” - Shannon McKirchy, CKW LUXE

“Rarely performed work makes Houston debut” - Lawrence Elizabeth Knox, Houston Chronicle

“Ars Lyrica Continues to Stretch Itself with San Giovanni Battista: The early music ensemble will tackle an ambitious Baroque composition this weekend.” - Holly Beretto, Houstonia Magazine

“11 best: Behind the scenes of Galveston’s San Luis Salute, Moody arts dinner, and Stage's’ big night: Moments you missed from Ars Lyrica's "surprise wedding" gala, H-E-B's Scott McClelland's powerful remarks on education, and Museum of Natural Science's low-key million-dollar gala” - Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle

“Magic and Romance Take Center Stage: A surprise wedding ups the romance factor at Ars Lyrica’s ‘A Mid-Winter Night’s Dream’ Gala” - Connie Kwan-Wong, CKWLuxe

“Whimsical Wintry Gala Features a Surprise Wedding: Ars Lyrica’s Mid-Winter Night’s Dream Gala broke a fundraising record, too.” - Abby Ledoux, Houstonia Magazine

“Surprise! Ars Lyrica chairs tie the knot during 'Mid-Winter Night’s Dream’ gala at Hotel Alessandra” - Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle

“Music Lovers Have a lot to Celebrate” -Miya Shay, abc13

“Shades of Shakespeare: Ars Lyrica Houston Kicks Off the Upcoming A Mid-Winer Night’s Dream Gala” -CKW LUXE Magazine

“Ars Lyrica Toasts 2019 with a Glittering New Year’s Eve Gala”
-Abby Ledoux, Houstonia

“A New Year’s Celebration Sparkles with Music, Dancing, and a Dazzling Backdrop” -CKW LUXE Magazine


“12 Days of Classical Music Makes Houston’s Holiday Season Very Merry” - Susie Tommany, Houston Press

“Review: Ars Lyrica’s Agrippina” - Steven Brown, Arts + Culture Texas

“Ars Lyrica Houston makes a successful leap into opera with Handel’s Agrippina” - Steven Brown, Texas Classical Review

“Ars Lyrica Delivers a Magnificent Production of Agrippina” - D. L. Groover, Houston Press

“Before Handel’s ‘Messiah’ is everywhere, hear his lively opera” - Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle

“Castle Capers Thrill Houston Opera Lovers: Ars Lyrica Houston stages a vivacious rendition of Handel’s Agrippina” - Shannon McKirchy, CKW LUXE

“With Agrippina, Ars Lyrica Gets a Handel on Opera” - Holly Beretto, Houstonia Magazine

“Ars Lyrica Houston masters the etiquette of regifting” -Lawrence Elizabeth Knox, Houston Chronicle

"Stepping Out: Ambition Defines Ars Lyrica's Next Season" -Sherry Cheng, Arts+Culture Texas

"Ars Lyrica Houston Celebrates Female Contributions to Society"
-Lawrence Elizabeth Knox, Houston Chronicle

"Ars Lyrica Honors Philanthropic Mothers Who are Dedicated to the Arts and Instill Their Passion in Their Children" -Shannon Langman, CKW LUXE Magazine

"Music Fit for a Queen or Two - Ars Lyrica's Regal Offering" - Sherry Cheng, Arts+Culture Texas
"...Dirst adroitly led a seamless, well-conceived program that showcased a strong cast of singers, a nimble orchestra, and a skilled chorus."

"Young Houston socialite couples score record breaking musical gala" -Culture Map Houston

"Ars Lyrica 2017/2018 Season Gala: A Roman Feast" -CKW LUXE Magazine

"Ars Lyrica, Bach Society strike tantalizing chord" -Eric Skelly, Houston Chronicle


“Take Heart: The best valentines are surprises” -Houston Chronicle

"Ars Lyrica: New Year's Eve Celebration 2017" -CKW LUXE Magazine

"Ars Lyrica Celebrates Italian Sirens and Houston Women" -Catherine Lu, Houston Public Media

"Ars Lyrica Houston Dedicates its Entire New Season to Women in the Arts" -Shannon Langman, CKW Luxe Magazine

"Italian Sirens and Other Female Composers Take Center Stage at Ars Lyrica" -Chris Becker, Houstonia

"Ars Lyrica Houston Performs In The Studio And Previews “Artful Women” -Catherine Lu, Houston Public Media

"Year of the Woman" - Sherry Cheng, Arts+Culture Texas                                                               "...Ars Lyrica’s timely new season encompasses an amazing array of music...revealing compelling stories of artful women as part of the rich cultural history..."

"Ars Lyrica Houston announces 2017-18 season, a tribute to women" - Wei-Huan Chen, Houston Chronicle                                                                                                                                            "Artful Women: Muse, Heroine, Musician, and Patron is a tribute to women's contributions to the canon of early music, which spans the 16th to 18th centuries." 

"Ars Lyrica Tilts at Windmills with Don Quixote's Excellent Adventures" - Vic Shuttee, Houston Press

"Ars Lyrica Houston's Don Quixote's Excellent Adventures" - Matthew Krajniak, Inprint

"Encore Houston, Episode 19: Ars Lyrica" - Joshua Zinn, Houston Public Media

"Ars Lyrica Houston Wraps up it's 2016/2017 Season with a Fantastical Finale" -Broadway World News Desk


"Old Yet New: Ars Lyrica’s Fresh Take on Vivaldi and Next Season’s News" - Steven Brown, Arts+Culture Texas
"... Ars Lyrica wants to show you the Baroque warhorse in a fresh light."

Summer Zephyr - Vic Shutte, HoustonPress
Summer Zephyr is "hot, bothered and breezy," and it begins with Vivaldi’s Summer

German Violin > Italian Violin at Ars Lyrica Concert - Steve Jansen, HoustonPress

Handel’s Messiah: The Most Treasured Choral Work Is Beautiful and (Possibly) Revolting - Steve Jansen, HoustonPress

Classical music: Orpheus, Ars Lyrica restore ‘Messiah’ to rightful time period - Scott Cantrell, The Dallas Morning News

Ars Lyrica Covering Easter at Hobby Center:  Early music group Ars Lyrica Houston celebrates Easter with Handel’s “Messiah.” - Leah Rose, Houstonia


Early Music, Late Night:  Matthew Dirst’s Ars Lyrica rings in 2016 in a very classy way
- Nick Esquer, Houstonia

"Ancient Airs: New York Baroque Dance Company Performs with Dallas Bach Society and Ars Lyrica" - Nancy Wozny,  Arts+Culture Texas

"Barton Lets Vocal Fireworks Fly In Baroque Showcase" - Classical Voice America

"Ars Lyrica’s Four Seasons in One" - Steven Brown,  Arts+Culture Texas

Ancient Airs: New York Baroque Dance Company Performs with Dallas Bach Society and Ars Lyrica -  Arts+Culture Texas

Barton Lets Vocal Fireworks Fly In Baroque Showcase - Classical Voice America

2014 and Before:

Houston Chronicle Interview with Matthew Dirst
Matthew Dirst talks to Arts+Culture Texas Magazine about Venetian Carnival

PODCAST: Houston Public Affairs interviews Matthew on interpreting lesser known repertoire

ALH in Modern Luxury Houston's "Arts & Power" Edition

Photos + Videos

View photos on Flikr

View videos on YouTube

Hail! Bright Cecilia

Hail! Bright Cecilia

Il Trionfo del Tempo

Il Trionfo del Tempo



Hasse:  Marc Antonio e Cleopatra

Hasse: Marc Antonio e Cleopatra

A Viennese New Year

A Viennese New Year




Books: “Engaging Bach” by Matthew Dirst

Reviews of Recordings


“a thrilling performance that glows in its quieter moments and sparkles with vitality” 
— Early Music America

Full Reviews:

Grammy Nominations 2010



“Such theatrical works have become the calling card of Ars Lyrica and its artistic director, Matthew Dirst. They seem to evoke inspired performances by the group.”
— Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle

Full Reviews:


"Listeners who enjoy the countertenor voice will find a good deal to admire in Ryland Angel's interpretations, for not only does he sing with a sweet and penetrating sound but gives keen attention to the meaning of the text and the varied affects of the pieces... fine, sonorous pieces ... played sweetly... the vocal element is the main attraction here and the reason most listeners will want the disc. The disc serves as a good representative survey of 17th-century German devotional music, with fine recorded sound"  - Fanfare



“...impassioned performance of strongly characterized and eloquent music.” “...played with exemplary skill and taste”
— John Vickers, Gramophone

“It's heartening to see Ars Lyrica enhancing its reputation with the release of this recording. Long may they keep the Baroque fires burning, not just in Houston but now around the world!”
— St. John Flynn, KUHF

"The range and quality of Dirst’s creations are as remarkable as the relentless ease with which he brings it all off." – CounterPunch

Full Reviews:



"Ars Lyrica and Orpheus Chamber Singers presented an excellent, and sold out, concert to an enthusiastic and appreciate audience." – Theater Jones


“Ars Lyrica’s concert gala nods to the merriment associated with Vienna with a playbill that includes Strauss’ adorable Pizzicato Polka—on period instruments—alongside works by Gluck, Mozart, Fux and Schmeltzer.”— CultureMap


“Dirst’s crisp but expressive direction yielded impressive precision, but also rhythmic buoyancy and rhetorical freedom. Lines were lovingly shaped, harmonic crunches viscerally felt, phrases elegantly rounded off...It was one of the most glorious musical experiences I’ve had in 11 years in Dallas.”— Scott Cantrel, Dallas Morning News

“The musicians made the city proud. The Houston Chamber choir, instrumental ensemble Ars Lyrica Houston and visiting wind band the Whole Noyse offered the first period instruments performance — and possibly the Houston premiere — of the great Vespers of 1610 by Claudio Monteverdi. Thursday’s first-class performance...elicited warm, sustained applause from the discerning crowd in the acoustically excellent Moores Opera House.”
— Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle


“Dirst's direction in O Sing and the two instrumental pieces was precise and the music-making by the choir and period-instrument musicians...exciting.” 
— Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle


“Ars Lyrica sets the standard in opening the city’s classical music season. A vividly imagined program, two riveting singers and zestful music-making combined for a great evening of Baroque music.”
— Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle


“The concert meshed sparkling music with lush vocals. Ars Lyrica’s focus not merely on singing and playing, but also on acting and showing that classical music is fun, is a worthy endeavor, indeed.”
— Holly Beretto, ArtsHouston


“Melissa Givens, Tracy Rhodus and Natalie Arduino...sang with vibrant style, technical pizzazz and strong communication.” “Celestial Sirens was another of Ars Lyrica’s creative and beautifully performed programs. The group continues to set the agenda for imaginative period-instrument programming in Houston.”
— Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle
Listen to an excerpt: L ROSSI Udite amanti


“When cultural historians plot the development of the early music movement in Houston, the Ars Lyrica presentation of Handel’s Clori, Tirsi e Fileno will be one of the landmarks.” “The Houston singers were stylish and confident. The orchestra...played with exhilarating energy.” “With the event, Ars Lyrica has established itself as the leader among Houston’s early music ensembles.”
— Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle 
Listen to G. F. HANDEL Overture to Clori, Tirsi e Fileno


“[Dirst’s] was playing of irresistible rhythmic impulse, the rhythm not of the metronome but of a fine dancer ever minutely adjusting to gravity’s tug. He commanded the music’s intellectual rigors but also luxuriated in its pure delight. And there was pretty dazzling virtuosity.”
— Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News


“Countertenor Gerrod Pagenkopf...sang with gorgeous, even tone and exquisite emotional nuance. Soprano Melissa Givens offered her trademark clear sound and charming involvement as Sarah and the Angel. UH bass-baritone Timothy Jones was convincingly distraught as Abraham. Mezzo-soprano Sonja Bruzauskas sang Ishmael with bright color and youthful vigor. Dirst led a crisp, expressive performance...the small ensemble played with zest.”
— Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle


“Dirst led a vigorous performance that revealed the brilliance and depth of Scarlatti’s music very well. Every singer poured great intensity into the music. The accompaniment by the continuo group — harpsichord or organ, theorbo or Baroque guitar, Baroque cello and occasionally double bass — was exquisitely sensitive and colorful.”
— Charles Ward, Houston Chronicle


“Ars Lyrica’s presentation came as close to opera as I’ve ever seen with three sterling singers, crisp articulation from the period string-and-continuo band, and intelligent, detailed direction.”
— Rosemary Ponnekanti, Arts Houston