Early music, ars lyrica, Houston, Houston early music, chamber music, Bach, Handel

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Artist Reviews

"Snouffer’s clear, lovely soprano reached the heights with pinpoint accuracy of attack.”
-Opera News

"Dirst is an efficient, extremely precise conductor who has an ear for detail and up-to-date ideas about performing Bach."
-The Washington Post

Re-Gifting with Royalty

Friday, September 21 at 7:30 pm

Zilkha Hall / Hobby Center For The Performing Arts

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). Soloists for this program include violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, flautist Colin St-Martin, harpsichordist and artistic director Matthew Dirst, and soprano Lauren Snouffer.

  • J.S. Bach, "Brandenburg" concerto Nos. 5, BWV 1050
  • François Couperin, Excerpts from the Concert royaux & Airs serieux
  • François Couperin, La Sultanne
  • J.S. Bach, "Brandenburg" Concerto No. 6, BWV 1051
  • J.S. Bach, Non sa che sia dolore, BWV 209


  Lauren snouffer , soprano

Lauren snouffer, soprano

  Elizabeth blumenstock,  violin

Elizabeth blumenstock, violin

  Matthew Dirst , harpsichord

Matthew Dirst, harpsichord

  Colin st-martin , flute

Colin st-martin, flute



Lauren Snouffer is celebrated as one of the most versatile and respected sopranos on the international stage.  Highlights of the 2017-18 season include Mozart’s Requiem with The Cleveland Orchestra, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Mahler’s Fourth Symphony with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, and Don Giovanni in concert with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra.  She joins the Lyric Opera of Chicago for a new production of Orphée et Eurydice and her reputation as a leading exponent of contemporary music is fortified with performances of Berg’s Lulu at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago, George Benjamin’s Written on Skin for Opera Philadelphia, and the world premieres of operas by Ricky Ian Gordon at Houston Grand Opera and by Andrew Norman for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Collaborations of past seasons include performances with Marin Alsop and the Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic, Markus Stenz and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Franz Welser-Möst and The Cleveland Orchestra. An impactful discography includes Hasse’s Siroe and Handel’s Ottone for Decca, Gottschalk’s Requiem for the Living on Novona Records, Grantham’s La cancíon desesperada on Harmonia Mundi, and Feldman’s The Rothko Chapel for ECM.

Widely admired as a Baroque violinist of expressive eloquence and technical sparkle, Elizabeth Blumenstock is a long-time concertmaster with the Bay Area's Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and American Bach Soloists, concertmaster of the International Handel Festival Orchestra in Goettingen, Germany, and Artistic Director of the Corona del Mar Baroque Music Festival in Orange County, California.  Her love of chamber music has involved her in several accomplished and interesting smaller ensembles including Galax Quartet, Live Oak Baroque, Sarasa, and Voices of Music.  Ms. Blumenstock teaches regularly for the Juilliard Historical Performance program, at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the American Bach Soloists' summer Festival and Academy, the International Baroque Institute at Longy, and the Valley of the Moon Music Festival.  She plays a 1660 Andrea Guarneri violin built in Cremona, Italy, on generous permanent loan to her from the Philharmonia Baroque Period Instrument Trust. 

Colin St-Martin, who since childhood was interested in 17th and 18th century European culture, began playing the traverso at the age of 14.  His studies took him to Brussels, Belgium, where he obtained a  First Prize (bachelor of music) from the Royal Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of the renowned master, Bart Kuijken. He returned to the US to complete graduate work at the Early Music Institute at Indiana University. Currently, Mr St-Martin is busy as a performer and recording artist with many early music ensembles across the US in addition to being sought after as a master teacher.

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. His book Engaging Bach: The Keyboard Legacy from Marpurg to Mendelssohn was published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. He is also the editor of Bach and the Organ, which appears in the Bach Perspectives series from the University of Illinois Press in early 2016.