Ars Lyrica Houston Announces 2018/19 Season: OUT OF THE BOX

Ars Lyrica Houston Announces 2018/19 Season: OUT OF THE BOX

Ars Lyrica Houston, the Grammy-nominated early music ensemble, announces its 2018/19 season: Out of the Box: Celebrating Ambition & Innovation. Ars Lyrica Houston takes on its first full-length Baroque opera with Handel's Agrippina plus the complete "Brandenburg" Concertos by J. S. Bach. Artistic Director Matthew Dirst has created a program "that highlights composers and works that are exceptional, definitive, unusual, even infamous." With Bach's six concertos appearing in pairs throughout the season, individual programs explore distinct ways of thinking about the general theme, from unexpected musical gifts to singular collections and composers.

Re-Gifting with Royalty opens the season on Friday, September 21st and includes works of leading composers of the Baroque era who often repurposed their own works, especially when a royal patron needed a special gift. Bach's "Six Concertos for Diverse Instruments" (as he titled them) were assembled, not composed afresh, for the Margrave of Brandenburg, while Couperin collected his chamber music at regular intervals for the royal seal of approval from Louis XIV. The fifth and sixth "Brandenburg" concertos turned the genre on its head, with an unprecedented harpsichord cadenza (in No. 5) and a violin-free texture of lower strings only (in No. 6). Soloists for this program include violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, flautist Colin St-Martin, harpsichordist and artistic director Matthew Dirst, and soprano Lauren Snouffer.

On November 16th & 18th, Ars Lyrica Houston presents its first fully-staged opera, Handel's Agrippina. An instant sensation at its premiere in Venice in 1709, Agrippina established the young Handel's reputation as a theatrical genius. Its tuneful score, abundant humor, and classic Roman intrigue make for a delightful evening at the opera. The cast for Ars Lyrica's production of this early masterpiece includes:

Sofia Selowsky as Agrippina, John Holiday as Nero, Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen as Ottone, Camille Ortiz-Lafont as Poppea, Timothy Jones as Claudio, with stage direction by Tara Faircloth.

The New Year's Eve program Baroque Razzle-Dazzle spotlights violinist Adam LaMotte and Ars Lyrica core instrumentalists, as we ring in 2019 with three dazzling concertos bookended by the annual dinner and gala events. The first and third "Brandenburg" concertos are brilliant ensemble works for strings and winds. Baroque Razzle-Dazzle pairs these works with an equally extravagant violin concerto by Bach's close contemporary Giuseppe Antonio Brescianello, who served the Württemberg court in Stuttgart. Friday, February 15 Claudio Monteverdi's spirited Scherzi musicali ("musical jokes") program will include game-changing publications from 1607 and 1632 gave life to one of the most famous debates in music history: Monteverdi's experimental style of vocal writing favored the words, whose careful expression justified the occasional compositional impropriety. Soloists include soprano Dominique McCormick, mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte and baritone Brian Shircliffe. On Saturday, March 30th the Houston premiere of Alessandro Stradella's oratorio San Giovanni Battista, with soloists countertenor Jay Carter in the title role of St. John the Baptist, soprano Sherezade Panthaki as Herodiade (Salome), and bass-baritone Sam Handley as Herod.

The season finale on Sunday, May 19th, From Brandenburg to Esterházy includes Bach's two remaining concertos and a concerto by Franz Joseph Haydn. The second "Brandenburg" concerto offers the set's oddest combination of soloists-recorder, oboe, violin, and trumpet-while the fourth is a stealth concerto, ostensibly for violin and two recorders. Baroque violinist Ingrid Matthews will join harpsichordist and artistic director Matthew Dirst center stage, along with Paul Leenhouts (recorder), Kathryn Montoya (Baroque oboe), and Nathaniel Mayfield (natural trumpet).

Highlights of the 2018/19 season include the production of Ars Lyrica Houston's first fully-staged opera, Handel's Agrippina, the complete "Brandenburg Concertos" by J.S. Bach performed in pairs throughout the six season concerts, and the Houston premier of Alessandro Stradella's oratorio San Giovanni Batista. Returning acclaimed soloists include countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen, sopranos Lauren Snouffer, Sherezade Panthaki, and Dominique McCormick and stage director Tara Faircloth.

Ars Lyrica's 2018/19 season of Out of the Box will include six subscription programs, all of which take place in the intimate and lively acoustics of Zilkha Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts. Those who purchase season subscriptions prior to May 19 will receive additional benefits, including a complimentary ticket to one of the 2018/19 programs and major discounts to the New Year's Eve Dinner & Gala -- a holiday tradition for our Houston patrons!

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts Box Office at 713.315.2525. (Press 4 for Ars Lyrica Houston).

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