Ars Lyrica Houston Opens 2017/2018 Artful Women Season
Ars Lyrica Houston, the Grammy nominated early music ensemble, opens its 2017/18 season: Artful Women: Muse, Heroine, Musician, and Patron with Sweet Philomela on September 22, 2017 at 7:30p.m. in Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. The opening concert features exotic musical works inspired by Philomela, mythical princess of Athens, whose transformation into a nightingale has fascinated poets and musicians for centuries. Soprano Sherezade Panthaki returns to the Zilkha Hall stage for evocative arias from Handel's L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato and Johann Adolph Hasse's lyric cantata L'Armonica, while Dennis James makes his Ars Lyrica debut on the glass harmonica which he describes the program as "the most challenging technically to perform while reigning as the most beautiful in the entire glass music repertoire." The ensemble of strings and winds soar with one of C. P. E. Bach's vibrant symphonies for twelve obbligato instruments. This season highlights Houston's own artful women by honoring leading female philanthropists and longtime members of the Ars Lyrica family for their tireless advocacy and generous support, at each concert with an exclusive dinner and program package experience.
Soloists: Sherezade Panthaki, soprano; Dennis James, glass harmonica; Elizabeth Blumenstock, violin
Soprano Sherezade Panthaki's international success has been fueled by superbly honed musicianship; "shimmering sensitivity" (Cleveland Plain Dealer), "astonishing coloratura with radiant top notes" (Calgary Herald); a vocal color "combining brilliance with a dark, plumlike tone" (The Wall Street Journal), and passionately informed interpretations, "mining deep emotion from the subtle shaping of the lines" (The New York Times). An acknowledged star in the early-music field, Ms. Panthaki has developEd Strong collaborations with many of the world's leading interpreters including Nicholas McGegan, Simon Carrington, the late John Scott, Mark Morris, Matthew Halls, Nicholas Kraemer, and Masaaki Suzuki, with whom she made her New York Philharmonic debut in a program of Bach and Mendelssohn.
Highlights of her current and recent seasons include Handel's Messiah with Bach Collegium Japan (Tokyo), National Symphony Orchestra (Kennedy Center, Washington D.C.), National Arts Center Orchestra (Ottawa, Canada), Calgary Symphony, and Nashville Symphony; Handel and Bach oratorios with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco; several productions with the Mark Morris Dance Group, including Handel's L'allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, and the title role of Galatea in the company's premiere performances of Handel's Acis and Galatea; Handel's Saul with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto; Orff's Carmina Burana with the Houston Symphony; Bach's St. John Passion, St. Matthew Passion, and Brahms Requiem with the late John Scott and the Choir and Orchestra of St. Thomas Fifth Avenue, New York City; numerous Bach cantatas and Mozart Requiem with Music of the Baroque (Chicago); Handel'sSolomon with the Radio Kamer Filharmonie in Holland; Handel at Carnegie Hall with William Christie and the Yale Philharmonia; Bach's Christmas Oratorio and solo cantatas with the Orchestra of St. Luke's in New York city; Mozart's Exsultate, jubilate and Requiem with the Washington Bach Consort (Washington D.C.); and solo concerts of Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi cantatas with the Rebel Baroque Orchestra. She is a frequent soloist with the most accomplished early music ensembles in New York, including the Choir and Orchestra of Trinity Church Wall Street (with whom she performed on a Grammy nominated recording).
Born and raised in India, Ms. Panthaki holds an Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, where she won multiple awards, including the prestigious Phyllis Curtin Career Entry Prize, awarded to launch the career of a student who demonstrates exceptional promise and talent as an artist. She earned a Masters degree from the University of Illinois and a Bachelors degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Ms. Panthaki is an active and passionate music educator, frequently called upon to present vocal masterclasses at Universities and Arts Schools across the United States. She teaches as an adjunct voice professor at Yale University.
Internationally touring performer Dennis James debuted as a glass musician in 1983. This conservatory-trained artist has since dedicated himself to the revival of the glass music and its instruments with his specialty focus on the armonica, Benjamin Franklin's 18th-century musical invention. As the founder of the current international revival of glass music, James has transformed his collection of other previously neglected glass instruments into an exciting and versatile performance resource. James has now established glass instruments as significant components of today's music scene. With his unique blend of adroit virtuosity, eclectic interests and clever humor, Dennis James has become the world's foremost glass music performer
Elizabeth Blumenstock (violin) is widely admired as a performer of interpretive eloquence and technical sparkle. A frequent soloist, concertmaster, and leader with American Bach Soloists, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and the Italian ensemble Il Complesso Barocco, she is also a member of several of California's finest period instrument ensembles, including Musica Pacifica, Ensemble Mirable, the Arcadian Academy, and Trio Galanterie. She has appeared with period orchestras and chamber ensembles throughout the United States and abroad, and has performed for the Boston and Berkeley Early Music Festivals, Germany's Goettingen Handelfestspiel, Los Angeles Opera, the Carmel Bach Festival, the Oulunsalo Soi festival in Finland, and the San Luis Obispo Mozart Festival, among many others. Ms. Blumenstock has recorded for Harmonia Mundi, Deutsche Grammophon, Virgin Classics, Dorian, BMG, Reference Recordings, Koch International, and Sono Luminus. She is instructor of baroque violin at the University of Southern California, teaches regularly at the International Baroque Institute at Longy, has taught at the Austrian Baroque Academy, and has coached university Baroque ensembles at USC, Roosevelt University, the University of Virginia, and California Institute of the Arts.