Ars Lyrica Goes Virtual With Music And Stories
Ars Lyrica Houston recommits to its mission of serving Houston's diverse community through music with new virtual content. Pairing stories of its musicians and artists with live and pre-recorded performances, two series, Concert & Conversations and Musical Moments, reinvent the connection between audiences and performers. Virtual "backstage access" is granted through interviews, music, discussion, lessons, and learning.
Creating meaningful virtual content for their audiences and finding a voice for it amid the flood of online information is a challenge, and one that Ars Lyrica has taken on with enthusiasm. Operations Associate Emma Wine notes, "As organizations end their seasons virtually, our team has become a brainstorming machine. We're always trying to come up with new ways to draw people into the world of early music, so this is something we are ready for." Wine is the voice behind the most recent episode of Concert & Conversations, which premiered last week with artistic director Matthew Dirst presenting a mini concert from his living room. This series pairs commentary with live or pre-recorded music and airs on a Facebook watch party, allowing people to join in the discussion.
Ars Lyrica's Executive Director, Kinga Ferguson, finds it an advantage to lead a smaller organization through these uncharted waters. "Being nimble and small allows us to respond quickly to changes in our current circumstances. With our talented team, we can reinvent and move forward while strengthening our community of artists and early music lovers. Ars Lyrica hires over 100 artists per season as independent contractors. The livelihood of those artists depends on short-term engagements, church jobs, and teaching, all of which are being cancelled now for months to come. We will continue to promote our artists and share music with our audiences to ensure that we still have a vibrant performing arts community when we get through this challenging time."
In addition to viewing opportunities, Ars Lyrica is curating a list of musicians who are willing to offer lessons and lectures to new audiences. Yvonne Smith, one of Ars Lyrica's violists, performs and teaches throughout Houston with the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera orchestra, and her own string trio La Speranza. "You don't realize what a gift it is to make music with other people until that gift is taken away. I am going through the grieving process while still having to survive," says Smith. Honoring contracts with her musicians while keeping herself afloat is a balancing act. She is thrilled to be part of Ars Lyrica's offer to promote artists for lessons and lectures online. "I can't wait for the time when we will all be able to play together again because it will be so joyous."
Ars Lyrica's program schedule for Concert & Conversations and Musical Moments is available online (http://www.arslyricahouston.org/virtual) along with a list of artists who offer lessons, master classes, and informative lectures on a variety of topics. A newcomer's guide to early music (http://www.arslyricahouston.org/newcomers) as well as a discussion area on topics relating to early music and our modern world (http://www.arslyricahouston.org/blog) make connections to the mission for new audiences.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, and extracts the dramatic potential, emotional resonance, and expressive power of music. 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 conferences because of its distinctive focus, and its pioneering efforts in the field of authentic performance have won international acclaim. Ars Lyrica Houston's Community Through Music