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.
Kinga Ferguson has experience in both arts administration and vocal performance that spans three countries. She holds an MBA from the University of Lyon, France, and has worked, in Paris, for the Jacques Thelen Agency and European Artistic Management. She has also worked with the USA International Harp Competition and a number of arts organizations in Poland. She holds a Masters and Performer’s Diploma in Voice from Indiana University and has sung with Chicago Opera Theatre, Chicago Humanities Festival, Marion Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Opera Company of the Highlands, Indiana University Opera Theatre, and Houston’s own Opera Vista. She holds an Artist’s Diploma in Piano from the State School of Music in Lodz, Poland. Ferguson is a Fellow of the Paul Daisy Soros Foundation for New Americans.
Jacqueline (Gonzalez) Altobelli
Marketing & Administrative Director
A graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio with a BA in Communications and a Business minor, Jacqueline has extensive profit and non-profit experience, event planning and execution, general and social media marketing as well as fundraising. She has worked with the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Walt Disney World Resort, and has had success in several entrepreneurial roles including promotions and marketing. She has extensive experience in event planning, general and social media marketing as well as non-profit fundraising. She also served on the board of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Michelle Vu is currently pursuing her B.S. in Supply Chain and Logistics Technology with minors in Purchasing and Business Administration at the Honors College of University of Houston. She has extensive experience in event planning, non-profit fundraising, and social media marketing. Previously ALH’s Public Relations and Marketing Intern in Spring/Summer 2015, Vu is excited to continue working with the ALH team and looks forward to help further grow the organization.
Vu will be responsible for database upkeep, artist liaison, managing volunteers, community outreach, publicity, marketing, social media and promotional efforts for the organization.
Public Relations & Marketing Intern
Iris is currently a Sophomore at the University of St Thomas where she is a joint major in international studies and communications. She is inspired by culture, both new and old, and often spends time studying different lifestyles and societies. Iris has remained a dean's list recipient at St. Thomas and has completed a Summer internship with the public relations firm, Medley Incorporated. This Summer Iris was also featured on ABC 13 Houston for her documentary over the iconic, Houston graffiti artist, Besomeoneco. On campus, Iris is the treasurer for the Arab Cultural Club, A Freshmen Student-Mentor, and the Community Outreach Officer for the International Studies Society. We are looking forward to her contributions with Ars Lyrica.
Brittany has recently graduated from the University of Houston's Moores School of music where she earned a Bachelor of Music in cello with specialization in music business and a minor in marketing. She graduated summa cum laude with the highest GPA in her department. Brittany is currently pursuing a certification in non-profit management through the University of Houston's graduate college of social work. She gained experience in arts administration previously as a development intern at The Society for the Performing Arts in Houston and as a music student ambassador of her alma matter. Outside of her non-profit and artistic endeavors, she operates B.R.Leavitt Cello Studios, instructing 30 young musicians in the greater Houston area. We are excited to have her on our team!
BOARD of Directors
Birgitt van Wijk
Immediate Past President
Dr. Lijda Vellekoop