Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Ars Lyrica Announces Reimagined 2020/21 Season

Highlights include the debut of a newly-commissioned harpsichord, musical duels, contemplative Bach cantatas and more.

Ars Lyrica Announces Reimagined 2020/21 Season

Ars Lyrica Houston has announced its reimagined 16th season. The season explores dualities in music, programming, and also celebrates the relationship between the audience and the artists. Highlights of the 2020/21 season include the debut of a newly-commissioned harpsichord, musical duels, contemplative Bach cantatas, juxtaposed iconic works by Pergolesi and Mozart, and a pastoral by Handel. Thoughtful pairings of contrasting elements are a nod to the very essence of Baroque music, and are the hallmarks of Ars Lyrica's 2020/21 programming. The Grammy-nominated ensemble continues to offer Houston audiences the finest in period-instrument performance, both online and in the concert hall.

"Ars a??Lyrica's upcoming season, announced just a month before the a??COVID-19 outbreak in this country, has evolved significantly over the last few months. We have developed new virtual platforms (with over 50 programs already produced and aired) and have successfully rescheduled for presentation in 2021/22 four of five subscription programsa??that we had planneda??for 2020/21," shares artistic director Matthew Dirst. With sensitivity for its artists as well as audiences, great care has been taken to develop companion online programming as well as safe performance practices in order to ensure the current and future health of everyone in the Ars Lyrica family.

Musical Duels opens the season on September 26 with a spotlight on artistic director Matthew Dirst along with Sam Houston State professor a??Mario a??Aschauer a??in a??favorite a??concertos for two harpsichordsa??by J. S. Bach .a??This concert inaugurates an extraordinary new instrument as well: a lavishly decorated harpsichord modeled after instruments known to Bach himself.a??This program of musical duelsa??also features a??Ars a??Lyrica core string players in tuneful fencing plus a sonorous suite, both by masters of the Austrian Baroque.

Conflict and Concord, the first of two a??all-Bach programs for Fall 2020, explores the rich repertory of cantatas and chamber music from thea?? great a??Baroque a??master. a??Cantata 170 transcends human suffering witha?? beautifula?? melodies and a??delicate a??textures, while Cantata 134 celebrates the joys of the next world witha?? sumptuousa?? orchestral and vocal forces. Between these masterworks, a??principal a??players offer a a??remarkablea?? trio sonata Bach a??composed fora?? Frederick the Great ,a??from a??a collection a??infused with ideological and musical contrasts.a??Thesea?? exceptional works combine intellectual a??challenges with profoundly comforting messages, while showcasing two singers in their Ars Lyrica debuts: Leia Lensing,a??mezzo-soprano and Stevena?? Brennfleck,a??tenor.

The second all-Bach installmenta??is devoted to music for violin and harpsichord, including two of the beloveda?? "duet" a??sonatas a??for harpsichord and violin. a??Both a??playersa?? also a??take solo turnsa?? with a??music Bach composed for the other instrument, in transcriptions that reveal new ways of hearing familiar repertoire.a??Featuring renowned Baroque violinist Elizabetha?? Blumenstocka?? and Ars Lyrica founder Matthewa?? Dirst, this will be the chamber highlight of the 2020/21a??season.a??a??

Comfort and Joy is a festivea?? holiday a??program including seasonal a??favorites a??alongside seldom-heard gemsa??of the Baroque era, all with abundant vocal and instrumentala?? display.a?? Scarlatti's celebrated cantata, written for a festive 1711 Christmas Eve entertainment a??in Rome, proclaims a universal message of hope and expectation. Vivaldi's most inventive psalm setting, along with a tunefula?? Telemann a??concerto a??and some lively French a??noëls, a??feature Camille Ortiz, a??soprano, Cecilia Duarte, a??mezzo-soprano, and Colin St-Martin,a?? traverso.

Signature Works, the only concert taken from the original Turning Points season, features iconic works that defined the reputations of their creators. This programa?? spotlightsa?? one of classical music's all-time favorites, Mozart's Eine kleine Nachtmusik, plus a gloriously operatic setting of Pergolesi's Stabata??Mater.a?? Bridging the gap between sorrow and a??bliss,a?? Signature Worksa?? conjures a world of enlightened expression, and features countertenor, Jay Carter as well as soprano Sherezade Panthaki.

May's Cantio Polonica is the second collaboration this season with Rienzi, the MFAH house museum for European decorative arts. a??Curated by lutenist a??Arasha??Noori, this program ona??the musical heritage of Poland a??also features a??violin and violaa?? da a??gamba a??virtuoso Stephanie Noori. An exemplary selection of Polish Baroque music illustrates this culture's significant anda?? little-known a??contribution to European a??musical practice during the "golden age" of the 17tha?? and 18th a??centuries.a??a??a??

Idyll and Intrigue closes the a??season with a cantata a??a due a??by the youthful George a??Frideric a??Handel. a??A 1708 commission from the Arcadian Academy,a?? Amintea?? e a??Fillide a??tells the story of two lovers who need a little help from Cupid. Handel fleshes out thisa?? endearing a??pastoral a??courtship for two voices and strings with great panache and charm. Sopranos Abigail Fischer and Houston Grand Opera and Rice alumna Lauren Snouffer animate this timeless retelling of an ageless love story as the a??Side by Side a??season comes to a harmonious conclusion.a??

Subscribe now to Ars Lyrica Houston's 2020/21 season. Subscriptions and single tickets are on sale at for virtual and in-person programming. For help with full-season subscriptions (three virtual concerts in the fall and three in-person concerts in the spring) as well as single tickets for in-person concerts, call the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at 713.315.2525 (Press 4 for Ars Lyrica Houston). For more information on our complete virtual suite of programming, visit or email

Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and conductor Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica Houston presents a diverse array of music in its original context while creating connections to contemporary life. Intelligent programming features neglected gems alongside familiar masterworks while mining the dramatic potential, emotional resonance, and expressive power of early music especially. Its local subscription series, according to the Houston Chronicle, "sets the agenda" for early music in Houston. Ars Lyrica appears regularly at international festivals and concert series because of its distinctive focus, and its pioneering efforts in the field of authentic performance have won international acclaim, including a Grammy nomination (Best Opera 2011)

Side by Side 2020/21 season:

Musical Duelsa??a??a??

Saturday, Septembera?? 26 a??at 7:30 pma??a??

J. S. Bach, Concerto in C Minor for Two Harpsichords and Strings, BWV 1061a??a??
J. H.a?? Schmelzer, a??Fechtschulea?? (Fencing School)a??a??
H. I. F.a?? Biber, a??Mensa Sonora Pars VIa?? (Suite in G Minor)a??a??
J. S. Bach, Concerto in Ca?? Majora?? for Two Harpsichords and Strings, BWV 1060a??a??

Matthewa?? Dirst a??& a??Mario a??Aschauer, a??harpsichorda??a??

Conflict & Concorda??a??

Saturday, Octobera?? 24 a??at 7:30 pma??a??

Vergnügte a??Ruh , a??beliebte a??Seelen lust, BWVa??170a??a??
Trio Sonata from a??A Musical Offering, BWV 1079a??a??
Ein a??Herz, dasa??s einen a??Jesum a??lebend a??weiß, a??BWV 134a??a??

a??Leia Lensing,a??mezzo-soprano˚a??a??
Steven a??Brennfleck,a??tenor˚a??a??

˚Arsa??Lyrica debuta??a??

Bach 2 Bacha??a??

Sunday, Novembera?? 15 a??at 5 pma??a??

Sonata in B Minor a??for Violin & Harpsichord, BWV 1014a??a??
Excerpts from the "Goldberg" Variations, BWVa??988a??(on solo violin)a??a??
Adagio & Fugue for Unaccompanied Violin, BWV 1001 (on harpsichord)a??a??
Sonata in A Major a??for Violin & Harpsichord, BWVa??1015a??a??

Elizabeth a??Blumenstock, a??Baroque violina??a??
Matthew a??Dirst, a??harpsichorda??a??

Comfort & Joya??a??

Friday, December 18 at 7:30 pma??a??

Scarlatti,a??Christmas Cantataa??a??
Telemann, Concerto in D Majora?? for Flute and Stringsa??a??
Vivaldi,a?? Nisi Dominusa??a??
Charpentier,a?? Noëlsa??a??

Camille Ortiz,a?? sopranoa??a??
Cecilia Duarte,a?? mezzo-sopranoa??a??
Colin St-Martin,a?? traversoa??a??

Signature Worksa??a??

Friday, March 12 at 7:30 pma??a??

W. A. Mozart,a?? Einea?? kleine a??Nachtmusika??a??
G. B. Pergolesi,a?? Stabata?? Matera??a??

Sherezadea?? Panthaki, a??sopranoa??a??
Jay Carter,a?? countertenora??a??

Cantioa?? Polonicaa??a??
Saturday, May 8 at 6a??pma??a??

Program TBA

Idyll and Intriguea??a??

Sunday, May 16a?? at 5a??pma??a??a??

G. F. Handel,a?? Aminta & Fillidea??a??

Laurena?? Snouffer & Abigail Fischer, a??sopranosa??a??

More Hot Stories For You