Lauren Snouffer and John Holiday Featured in Ars Lyrica Houston's A VIENNESE NEW YEAR, 12/31

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The Grammy-nominated early music ensemble Ars Lyrica Houston envelopes its guests with festive music by the legendary composers of the Viennese royal court at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, December 31, 2012 at 9 p.m. at Zilka Hall, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. The concert program featuring two rising stars of the opera stage - soprano Lauren Snouffer and countertenor John Holiday – will include arias and duets by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Christoph Willibald Gluck. The magnificent instrumentalists of Ars Lyrica Houston will perform works by J.H. Schmeltzer, Johann Joseph Fux and Johann Strauss, the "Waltz King."

The concert is followed by the Ars Lyrica Annual Gala at 10:30 p.m. in the Grand Lobby of the Hobby Center. Guests will enjoy flowing champagne, delicious hors d'oeuvres from Artista Restaurant, Viennese waltzes, and the opportunity to bid on a distinctive silent auction. At the stroke of midnight everyone will join in singing "Auld Lang Syne."

Tickets for the performance are $35, $40 or $45 per person. Student tickets for the performance are $22 with valid ID. A separate ticket for the Annual Gala is $60 per person. This magical New Year's Eve experience can be enjoyed for as little as $95 per person. Tickets for the concert and Gala may be purchased on the Ars Lyrica Houston website at http://www.arslyricahouston.org or by calling the Hobby Center Box Office at 713-315-2525.

PROGRAM

A Viennese New Year Guests will enjoy an enchanting evening of Viennese music including a suite by Fux; a programmatic work by Schmeltzer that depicts a fencing lesson; the Pizzicato Polka by Strauss; and operatic excerpts by Mozart and Gluck featuring soprano Lauren Snouffer – a 2012 finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and currently a member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio– and countertenor John Holiday, a native Houstonian who makes his Carnegie Hall and Metropolitan Opera debuts this season.

Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and conductor Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica Houston is a Texas-based ensemble that performs world-class Baroque music on period instruments. Ars Lyrica's world premiere recording of J.A. Hasse's Marc Antonio e Cleopatra brought the ensemble its first Grammy nomination for "a thrilling performance that glows in its quieter moments and sparkles with vitality" (Early Music America). Ars Lyrica's distinctive programming, drawn from the rich chamber and dramatic repertories of the 17th and 18th centuries, "sets the agenda for imaginative period instrument programming in Houston," according to the Houston Chronicle. 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 brought international recognition to the ensemble: Gramophone, the leading journal of the classical recording industry, praised this CD for its "exemplary skill and taste," and Ars Lyrica's musicians for their "impassioned performance" of never-before recorded works. Ars Lyrica's latest Sono Luminus recording, of Domenico Scarlatti's comic intermezzo La Dirindina and his chamber cantata Pur nel sonno, was released in August 2012. For more information visit http://www.arslyricahouston.org.

About the Soloists

Lauren Snouffer, named a "standout singer" by the Wall Street Journal, sings Elvira in The Italian Girl in Algiers and Ellie in ShowBoat with the Houston Grand Opera. Her previous HGO credits include Thibault in Don Carlos, Lucia in The Rape of Lucretia, performances of Rosina in The Barber of Seville , and third prize in HGO's 2011 Eleanor McCollum Competition Concert of Arias.

Ms. Snouffer was a grand finalist in the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Her discography includes the Grammy-nominated Threshold of Night and Christopher Berg's Four Nabokov Songs.<


Ms. Snouffer was recently seen as Phénice and La Gloire in Armide with Mercury Baroque in Houston and Paris, Clorinda in Monteverdi's Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda with Juilliard415, and soprano soloist in Kurtág's Messages of the Late R. V. Troussova with AXIOM.

Ms. Snouffer's other roles include Ruth Baldwin in John Musto's Later the Same Evening, Minnie in Annie Get Your Gun, Florestine in John Corigliano's The Ghosts of Versailles, the Dew Fairy in Hansel and Gretel, and Princess (#1) in Conrad Susa's Transformations.

Ms. Snouffer spent the summer of 2012 covering the role of Agnes in George Benjamin's Written On Skin with the Aix-en-Provence Festival and will revisit the piece in 2013 with Maggio Musicale in Florence; the Royal Opera, Covent Garden; and the Vienna Festival. She completed undergraduate studies at Rice University, where she sang Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and earned her master's degree at Juilliard. Future engagements include her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut in 2014.

In repertoire encompassing George Frideric Handel's 'Giulio Cesare in Egitto' to Jonathan Dove's 'Flight' and beyond, countertenor John Holiday's expressive and richly beautiful voice has made him an increasingly sought after artist, possessing a "vocal instrument that threatens to equal the name artists in his range." (Herald Times)

In the 2012 – 2013 season, Mr. Holiday makes his Carnegie Hall debut as soloist in Bernstein's 'Chichester Psalms' with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under Robert Spano, as well as in performances for audiences in Atlanta. He will also join the roster of the Metropolitan Opera to cover Nireno in 'Giulio Cesare' under Harry Bicket in David McVicar's new production. Mr. Holiday made his company debut with Portland Opera in Phillip Glass's 'Galileo Galilei' in the 2011 – 2012 season and will reprise his roles in the same work at the Cincinnati Opera in the summer of 2013. He was soloist in Handel's Messiah with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra and performed with the Chorus of Westerly (Rhode Island) in their concert of Purcell's Come, Ye Sons of Art. He was also seen in a benefit concert at Dallas Opera having recently been the first place winner of the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition.

Recently, Mr. Holiday was an apprentice artist at Santa Fe Opera where he covered the role of Corrado in Peter Sellars's production of Vivaldi's 'Griselda'. Additionally, he was seen as Tolomeo in 'Giulio Cesare in Egitto' at the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati, soloist with Bourbon Baroque in Louisville, and soloist in Handel's 'Messiah'. A career highlight includes an invitation by Pope John Paul II to sing as soloist for High Mass at St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel in 2002.

In addition to the Dallas Opera Guild Vocal Competition, Mr. Holliday recently received a first prize from the Sullivan Foundation for 2012 and was also awarded fifth place in the Palm Beach Opera Competition in 2011. In 2007, he was the first place winner in his district of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. From 2004 to 2006, Mr. Holiday was a first place winner of the TEXOMA region of the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

In addition to the classical repertoire, Mr. Holiday excels in jazz music having opened for Grammy award winner Jason Mraz in concert. He is a graduate of the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, where he earned his Bachelor of Music in voice performance and received his Master of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music.

Ars Lyrica Houston: A Viennese New Year, is slated for Tuesday, December 31, 2012 at 9:00 p.m. The annual gala will be held afterward at 10:30 p.m. in Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby St., Houston, Texas. For subscriptions and single tickets, call 713-315-2525 or visit Arslyricahouston.org. For more about Ars Lyrica, find them on Facebook and Twitter.