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.
Artist entrepreneur, Shannon brings her range of skill sets and passion for the arts and music to the Ars Lyrica team. As a professional photographer, free-lance writer, mezzo-soprano and educator for the past decade within the Houston arts scene, she has worked with a variety of classical musicians and companies, including HGO and Opera in the Heights along with many local ensembles. Her writing and photography has been featured in publications including Arts + Culture Houston and Classical Singer Magazine. Shannon has performance accolades in the US and Europe, and holds a Master's of Music Degree from University of Houston's Moores School of Music.
Artist Liaison / Program Coordinator
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 mater. 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
Dr. Lijda Vellekoop