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Ars Lyrica

Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and musicologist Matthew Dirst and incorporated in 2003 as a 501(c)(3) organization, Ars Lyrica Houston (ALH) offers a yearly series of programs at Houston’s Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, where it is the resident period–instrument ensemble, and also performs regularly at other Houston–area and statewide venues. The ensemble has also toured nationally and has been featured at meetings and conventions of the American Musicological Society, the American Guild of Organists, and other national organizations. ALH relies on a core group of Houston–area artists and works frequently with guest artists and collaborating ensembles on large–scale programs. Its distinctive programming draws on a rich repertory of chamber and dramatic music for voices and instruments and often examines music’s relationship to larger cultural phenomenon. Ars Lyrica’s thematically–based programs, according to the Houston Chronicle, “set the agenda for imaginative period-instrument programming in Houston.“ Under Dirst’s direction, ALH has introduced Houston audiences to a number of important Baroque composers, including Alessandro Scarlatti, Marc–Antoine Charpentier, and Johann Adolph Hasse. Ars Lyrica’s numerous Houston premières include Jacopo Peri’s Euridice (the earliest surviving opera), G. F. Handel’s Il Trionfo del Tempo (in its American première), John Blow’s Venus and Adonis (the first English opera) and Claudio Monteverdi’s monumental Vespers of 1610. Ars Lyrica is likewise committed to the continued exploration of later Baroque masterworks, including major works by Bach and Handel, in innovative dramatizations that give new life to even the most familiar scores. The ensemble’s first commercial release, on Naxos International, features the world première recordings of Alessandro Scarlatti’s La Concettione della Beata Vergine and Euridice dall’Inferno. This disc has brought international recognition to the ensemble: Gramophone, the leading journal of the classical recording industry, recently praised this CD for its “exemplary skill and taste,“ and Ars Lyrica’s musicians for their “impassioned performance“ of never-before recorded works.

ALH collaborates frequently with other arts organizations, including leading choral groups in both Houston and Dallas. These collaborations have enabled multiple performances of major works (Bach’s St John Passion, the Monteverdi Vespers, Purcell’s Hail! Bright Cecilia) in multiple venues, and have enabled both organizations to serve otherwise underserved communities.

Ars Lyrica also works regularly with other institutions and organizations to present early music. Sponsors and collaborators have included: the American Musicological Society, the American Bach Society, the American Guild of Organists, the Moores School of Music at the University of Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Cypress Creek Foundation for the Arts, the Houston Chamber Choir, Musiqa, St. Philip Presbyterian Church, Foundry United Methodist Church, Palmer Episcopal Church, Ascension Episcopal Church, the Friends of Chamber Music at Christ Church Cathedral, the St. Cecilia Friends of Music, the College Station Friends of Chamber Music, and the Festival-Institute at Round Top.



Ars Lyrica
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