One of history's greatest literary figures, Don Quixote 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.
Friday, September 22 at 7:30 pm
Ars Lyrica’s season opener introduces exotic musical works inspired by Philomela, a mythical princess of Athens whose transformation into a nightingale has fascinated poets and musicians for centuries. Its primary offering, Johann Adolph Hasse’s 1769 lyric cantata L’Armonica, combines the ethereal sounds of the glass harmonica with a soprano soloist and full Baroque orchestra.
Sunday, November 12 at 6 pm
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 seventeenth-century composers: Isabella Leonarda, Francesca Caccini, and Barbara Strozzi.
New Year’s in Berlin
Sunday, December 31 at 9 pm
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!
Esther & Jonah
Friday, February 16 at 7:30 pm
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 eighteenth 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.
Long Live the Queen!
Saturday, April 7 at 7:30 pm
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.
A Day with Marie-Antoinette
Saturday, May 19 at 7:30 pm
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.”
Interest in the uncanny brought about all manner of oddities during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, from wax 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.
Fast passagework? High notes? No problem for the greatest virtuosos of the early 18th century, whose talents inspired some of the most spectacular music of the late Baroque. Bach's Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, one of the great showpieces of the soprano and trumpet repertoire, headlines this program, which also includes showstoppers by Vivaldi and Scarlatti.
A festive all-Bach program rings in the New Year with cantatas J. S. Bach wrote specifically for this holiday plus other celebratory works. This special evening at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts begins with a decadent pre-concert dinner and continues at 9:00 pm in Zilkha Hall with Bachanalia. Ars Lyrica's annual gala and silent auction follows; it's a holiday tradition for our Houston patrons!
Handel’s final masterpiece sets an Old Testament tale about a warrior’s foolish promise to God and its terrible consequences. The austere subject matter (from the Book of Judges) becomes pure gold in Handel’s hands; his oratorio is full of beautiful melodies, searing choruses, even a surprise ending. These performances feature a stellar cast of soloists and the award-winning Moores School Concert Chorale from the University of Houston.
Ars Lyrica's 2016/17 season opens with a trip to Versailles, where French kings and their courtiers cultivated pleasures of all kinds, including musical follies. Charpentier's witty chamber opera pairs nicely with motets, drinking songs, and chamber works by François Couperin & Jean-Philippe Rameau, for a sumptuous and quintessentially French musical feast. Unusually for its era, Les Plaisirs de Versailles is a comedy — and an ode to both wine and chocolate!
Ars Lyrica’s 2015/16 season comes to a close with a program celebrating the warm and sometimes unpredictable winds of summer. Virtuosic flights of fancy abound on this program, which features Vivaldi’s Summer, J. S. Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto in D Minor, W. A. Mozart’s Exultate, Jubilate, and three outstanding soloists.
The critically acclaimed Orpheus Chamber Singers from Dallas return for a collaboration on Handel’s Messiah with conductor John Butt, whose recent recording of the Mozart Requiem with the Dunedin Consort won a Gramophone ward in 2014. This Easter Messiah will be a performance of the complete work, with a cast of stellar soloists and full Baroque orchestra.
At 6:45 pm, please join us for a pre-concert lecture, featuring Michael Marissen, author of “Tainted Glory in Handel’s Messiah: The Unsettling History of the World’s most beloved Choral Work.”
Songs about springtime animate our 2016 Houston Early Music Festival program, entitled All in a Garden Green after an English folksong. A menu of delectable tunes mixes items from English, Italian, French, and Spanish musical cultures and includes Vivaldi’s Spring, along with songs and cantatas by William Byrd, Thomas Morely, Clément Jannequin, Juan del Encina and others. Love will definitely be in the air at this Valentine’s weekend program!
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. This very special evening at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts begins with dinner at 8:00 pm at Artista Restaurant and continues in Zilkha Hall with the Fire and Ice concert at 9:30 pm. Ars Lyrica Houston’s annual gala (with silent auction) extends the festivities past midnight at the exclusive Founders Room, so that you can ring in 2016 with us — at Houston’s most stylish New Year’s Eve event!
Ars Lyrica’s Homage to the Sun King comes exactly 300 years after his light finally faded in 1715. This program features Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s sparkling chamber opera Les arts florissants plus royal motets and chamber works by Jean-Baptiste Lully, Jean-Philippe Rameau, and François Couperin. It’s a rare opportunity to savor French Baroque masterworks in full historical dress, with instruments and dance steps from the Ancien Régime.
Our 2015/16 Seasonal Rituals begin with Antonio Vivaldi’s Autumn, the first of four concerti constituting his beloved Four Seasons, each of which appears on its own program this season. Autumn Hunt also includes vocal fireworks aplenty, with Joseph Haydn’s dramatic cantata Arianna a Naxos for mezzo-soprano and strings—in which the mythical figure Arianna imagines herself hunter’s prey—plus a selection of Handel arias.
Featuring: mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, 2013 Cardiff Singer of the World