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.
Marketing & Office Manager
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
From Bryan, Texas, Rachel began her musical journey at the age of 6. She received a Bachelor's Degree in Violin Performance from the University of Houston's Moores School of Music, studying with violin soloist and conductor Andrzej Grabiec. During her time as a violinist she has received mentorship and masterclasses from violinists such as Kenneth Goldsmith, professor of violin at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, William Preucil, concertmaster of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, and Oleh Krysa, professor of violin at the Eastman School of Music. She has enjoyed performing and competing while placing in the Brazos Valley Concerto Competition and the Tuesday Musical Club's Young Artist Competition. Another side of Rachel is her love for people and reaching out to the community. Through her previous experiences with Ars Lyrica she has additionally developed a passion for arts administration. In addition to this, she teaches over 35 students at Vivaldi Music Academy. Rachel is excited for the opportunity to combine her passions for people, community, and music through this position.
BOARD of Directors
Elizabeth Bellows Brockman