Ars Lyrica Reimagines Season Finale With Multifaceted Broadcast
Ars Lyrica Houston, the Grammy-nominated early music ensemble, will broadcast its season finale on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and its website www.arslyricahouston.org on Saturday, May 16th, at 7:30 p.m. Johann Sebastian Bach's Phoebus and Pan was half of the original program, Bach Goes Greek, which was intended for the stage of Zilkha Hall. The broadcast will include soloists from a 2008 performance of the work as well as music and commentary from the artists who were slated to appear on the concert.Artistic director Matthew Dirst has a fondness for this clever work by Bach. Written in 1729, Phoebus and Panwas one of many works that was intended to be performed in Zimmermann's coffee house. This famous Leipzig establishment was the backdrop to the premieres of many of Bach's secular cantatas and instrumental works. "The singers and players would have been among the crowd, enjoying the works' central conflict, between mythical gods who both think their singing is superior. Phoebus and Pan is also a musical debate about the respective virtues of the high style and the more vernacular opera buffa style, as embodied in the characters of Phoebus and Pan," says Dirst. Each of the title singers has an advocate in the six-member cast (Tmolus and Midas, respectively), and there's also a master of ceremonies (Momus) and a judge (Mercury). Staging for Bach Goes Greek was the job of Tara Faircloth. "When I start to conceptualize the staging for a project, I look for inspiration in places like museums, grocery stores, and even Saturday Night Live! My ideas for this project are a melding of performance artists David Byrne and OK Go. The performers were bursting with energy and fun, and that's exactly what I was looking for with this Bach piece." Faircloth will walk viewers through her vision with storyboards and videos. The hour-long broadcast is a collage of commentary, excerpts from the 2008 performance, and virtual ensembles. Closing out the event is a chorale performance combining 2008 and 2020 soloists. For this, Dirst chose the final chorale from Bach's Cantata BWV 86 "Hope awaits the right time." 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.