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Ars Lyrica Responds to Diverse Houston Audiences with New Outreach Programs and Collaborations

Ars Lyrica Responds to Diverse Houston Audiences with New Outreach Programs and Collaborations

Ars Lyrica Houston, the Grammy-nominated early
music ensemble, is growing its outreach and education programs to reach and reflect the diverse Houston landscape. Continuing efforts they started before stay-at-home orders effected in March, the organization is creating a new catalogue of offerings with reach beyond the presentation of in-person concerts and programs. New partnerships and a talented creative team are creating content in multiple languages that will make music, literacy, and learning accessible to their widest audience yet. Their unique voice combining social emotional learning with their commitment to demystifying the world of early music for audiences of all ages is evident in their body of online programming.

"A Musical Story Time" with Cecilia Duarte and Jesus Pacheco, recently generated excitement among Ars Lyrica virtual audiences and parents with 1,500 views for their debut episode, A Boy Named Giotto. This bilingual presentation with an original soundtrack served as the inspiration for the eponymous new series. "This isn't a regular story time video. Instead, we focus on literacy and recreating an intimate experience of parents reading to their kids with a unique musical soundtrack," says executive director Kinga Ferguson. Featuring books that touch upon themes of music and art in historical context, Arte Público Press (a prestigious bi-lingual publication at the University of Houston) are curating the book list for the Spanish/English broadcasts. Duarte and Pacheco will also be creating bi-lingual programming for Young Audience of Houston with the Arte Público Press books as inspiration. "This is just the beginning," says Ferguson. "We are already at work on more episodes in Spanish, as well as in German, Polish, French, Chinese, and Arabic, to reflect the multicultural composition of our city."

Listen to "A Boy Named Giotto," where a gifted shepherd boy learns how to paint magnificent frescoes during the Italian Renaissance. A Boy Named Giotto is a story by Bimba Landmann as told by Paolo Guarnieri and Illustrated by Bimba Landmann

Ars Lyrica's newly minted chamber music series in partnership with Rienzi, the European decorative arts arm of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, was intended to launch with a Bastille Day celebration on site this July 14th. Working in collaboration, the two organizations instead created a line-up of educational and interactive programming that engaged audiences, which numbers in the thousands, in more diverse ways and with a broader reach than the original program permitted. Marketing associate Kathleen Staten finds the current circumstances to be an exciting time for invention and innovation. "While nothing can replace the sensory buffet of in-person concert experiences, it is exciting to reach out and find partners with whom we can imagine a new landscape for cultural and artistic experiences." The concert and supporting programs are available on Ars Lyrica YouTube and Facebook channels. The organizations look forward to another colaboration with a Polish Baroque program in May.

Alongside inventive new programming are partnerships with organizations like Harmony in the Air, a program of the Houston Airports System. Harmony in the Air showcases Houston's rich and diverse musical talent and culture via performances in both Houston airports by the city's outstanding classical, Jazz, R&B, Pop, Country, and International musicians. Ars Lyrica was one of the first organizations reopening the series which operates on Fridays in July on the July 3, 17 and 31 from 12:00PM-3:00PM. This program that helps establish Houston as a 5-star global air service gateway has made a significant impact on its listeners. "What an amazing way to showcase the musical talent we have in Houston. And I love that you are exposing people to classical music as well since many people don't get a chance to go to Jones Hall to hear these kinds of performances. It may very well inspire kids to want to pursue the classical arts. And that is just super exciting to me," shared a listener who interacted with Ars Lyrica musicians before the shutdown.

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.

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