Ars Lyrica Houston to Ring in the New Year with BACHANALIA Concert

Ars Lyrica Houston, the Grammy nominated early music ensemble, celebrates the New Year with a glittering evening filled with gorgeous music and flowing glasses of champagne at BACHANALIA on Saturday, December 31, at the Hobby Center For The Performing Arts.

"We're delighted to be sharing some favorite works of Bach - his gorgeous Concerto for oboe d'amore, for example - alongside some celebratory cantatas for this season of the year," said Artistic Director Matthew Dirst. "Join us for the dinner and gala for a truly memorable evening!"

"We are excited to announce that this year our gala chairs are Darrin Davis & Mario Gudmundsson, who have been an active fundraising force for the organization this season," said Director of Marketing Jacqueline Altobelli. "This is such an important and exciting period for our growing organization - and as the city's philanthropic landscape has developed, so have we."

"Helping raise funds and awareness of an organization such as Ars Lyrica is of great importance to us. Music is vitally important in connecting a community and there is no other music that brings a community together more elegantly than Baroque music," said Darrin Davis. "Celebrating that community with performances on period instruments and celebrating the composers and arrangers as the music was written helps connect us to the past," added Mario Gudmundsson.

The folly-filled holiday gala and silent auction is the second highlight of the evening. All proceeds from the event will benefit Ars Lyrica Houston, making sure that the organization continues to delight local and national audiences with superlative performances of baroque music for years to come. Local media extensively covered our 2015 New Year's Eve Fire & Ice Gala. The event sold out, and we fully expect this year's Gala to surpass what has gone before.

2016 New Year's Eve Gala Host Committee members include: Robin Angly & Miles Smith, Carrie & Sverre Brandsberg-Dahl, Ralph Burch & Stephanie von Stein, Dean Dalton Tours, Dr. Andrew Davis, Dean, College of the Arts - University of Houston, Anna Dean, Vanessa & Gabe Gaidosik, Betsy & Ed Schreiber, Emily Schreiber, Elizabeth & Alan Stein, Barbara van Postman, Dr. Ishwaria Subbiah & Dr. Vivek Subbiah, and Dr. Josey Wagner and Mr. Bryan Wagner.


American soprano Melissa Givens moves and excites audiences and critics alike with a rich, powerful tone, crystalline clarity, and intelligent musical interpretations. Especially noted for her expressiveness and elegance on the stage, she's been hailed as a singer whose music making is "consistently rewarding" and "a pleasure to hear." Givens is also an extremely versatile artist, regularly performing repertoire from the Baroque era through music of the 21st century. A writer for Classical.Net marveled, "Melissa Givens has a voice you imagine coming from the goddess Erda" in a review of Sing Freedom!, Conspirare's 2012 recording of spirituals on the Harmonia Mundi label. Recent performances include Mahler's Symphony No. 4 with the Greenbriar Consortium, and appearances with Houston Camerata, the Sam Houston State University Symphony, the Woodlands Symphony, the Boulder Bach Festival, and the Concord Chorale. Currently on the voice faculty of Augusta University, she remains in demand on concert series throughout the United States and abroad, and counts Ars Lyrica Houston and the Grammy© winning Conspirare: Craig Hella Johnson and Company of Voices as frequent collaborators. Her solo appearances on their major label releases have received enthusiastic reviews. She can also be heard on her solo CD, let the rain kiss you.

Born on St. Cecilia's day, the Grammy-nominated British counter-tenor Ryland Angel has built an international reputation on both the opera and concert stage, in repertoire ranging from the Baroque to new operatic commissions at major opera houses, concert halls and festivals throughout Europe and the USA. He has performed in Monteverdi's Orfeo, Gavin Bryars's Doctor Ox's Experiment (English National Opera), Fairy Queen (Barcelona), Gluck's Orfeo (Koblenz), Amadigi (Karlsruhe), Venus and Adonis (Flanders Opera), Dido and Aeneas (Opera Comique), The Play of Daniel (Spoleto), and Ballet Comique de La Royne (Geneva). Angel has sung on over 70 recordings including music of Buxtehude, Charpentier, Scarlatti, Stradella, Spears, O'Regan, Handel, Monteverdi, Purcell, Bach and on the film soundtracks of Jack Reacher - never go back, Zoolander 2, Freedom, Le Petit Prince, La Peau, Henry 4th, Machete, The Mystery of Dante and the PBS TV special Heavenly Voices. Recent engagements include Doux Mensonges (Opera National de Paris), Agrippina (NYCO), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Florentine and Kansas Opera), Julius Caesar (Utah and Colorado Opera, Boston Baroque), Sant Alessio (Paris, London, New York), Carmina Burana (Lincoln Center and Prague Proms with CNSO), St. John Passion (Saint Thomas and Worcester Chorus), Classics and Rock (Seoul Philharmonic), Tesla (Dartmouth), Striggio with Le Concert Spiriuel (Edinburgh Festival), Acis and Galatea (Houston) and Messiah (Handel and Haydn Society, Masterworks Chorus, Musica Sacra). Recent recordings include The Flaming Fire (MSR), Heart and Soul (Centaur), La Sposa (Solo Luminus) and Now Fatal Change (NMC). Ryland is a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota and has talk masterclasses around the world including some at UNT, Conservatoire of Toulouse, Princeton high school and Conspirare Youth choirs.

A highly energetic, vibrant, and extremely versatile singer and actor, tenor Joseph Gaines has been described as "such an exuberant performer you couldn't help but smile" (The Minneapolis Star-Tribune). He is known in the United States and abroad for beautifully sung and richly detailed interpretations of character roles. Gaines has been a regular guest artist at Opera Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera, Utah Opera, Central City Opera, Indianapolis Opera, and others. An in-demand concert artist and recitalist, he has been a featured soloist with The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Detroit Symphony, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia's Lyric Fest, and The Brooklyn Art Song Society, as well as many chamber and period ensembles. Gaines joined the artist roster of The Metropolitan Opera for the first time in 2013-14, covering Caius in Verdi's FALSTAFF. Engagements in 2016 have included LE NOZZE DI FIGARO at Utah Opera, LA FANCIULLA DEL WEST with Opera Colorado, and TURANDOT at Opera Philadelphia, as well as his debut with the Colorado Bach Ensemble. Upcoming projects over the next two years include a return to Resonance Works Pittsburgh and Opera Philadelphia, as well as debuts with Hawaii Opera Theater (2017) and a major west coast opera company in 2018.

David Grogan has performed extensively throughout the southwest, getting positive reviews. The Dallas Morning News hailed Dr. Grogan as the "perfect Christus" after a performance of the St. Matthew Passion with the Dallas Bach Society. The New York Times called his singing "excellent." The Albuquerque Tribune, in reference to a performance of Messiah with the New Mexico Symphony, said, "David Grogan had all the range and power required of the part, sounding like the voice of doom in "The people that walked in darkness" and the light of revelation in "The trumpet shall sound." A performance of Elijah had critics praising his ability to "move easily from stentorian declamation to lyrical aria." Another critic said that he "....brought an impressive vocal power to the lead role of Elijah, and his rich emotive gift set the level for the other chief performers." The Dallas Morning News said "His meaty bass shook the heavens and the earth and sounded the trumpet with imposing conviction." He has performed as a soloist with Dallas-Fort Worth area arts groups such as the Dallas Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Dallas Bach Society, Plano Civic Chorus, Denton Bach Society, Texas Baroque Ensemble, Orpheus Chamber Singers, Texas Camerata, Fort Worth Baroque Society, and several Texas universities. Recent performances include Handel's Messiah with the Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys in NYC, Handel's Acis and Galatea with Mountainside Baroque in Maryland, Bach's B- Minor Mass under the direction of Simon Carrington with the University of Northern Colorado, Verdi's Requiem with Texas Tech, and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Bass Hall in Fort Worth, TX.


Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and conductor Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica Houston presents a diverse array of music from the 17th and 18th centuries on period instruments. Its local subscription series, according to the Houston Chronicle, "sets the agenda" for early music in Houston and it also appears regularly at major festivals and conferences, including the 2014 Berkeley Early Music Festival & Exhibition. Ars Lyrica's distinctive programming favors Baroque dramatic and chamber works, and its pioneering efforts have won international acclaim: the ensemble's world première recording of Johann Adolf Hasse's Marc'Antonio e Cleopatra, hailed by Early Music America as "a thrilling performance that glows in its quieter moments and sparkles with vitality," was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Opera 2011.

BACHANALIA will be Saturday, December 31, at the Hobby Center For The Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. The festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. with a seated dinner in the Grand Lobby, and continuing at 9 p.m. in Zilkha Hall with the BACHANALIA concert. For more information, visit

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