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Musical Fireworks Celebrate Bastille Day As Ars Lyrica Opens New Season

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Musical Fireworks Celebrate Bastille Day As Ars Lyrica Opens New Season

Ars Lyrica Houston, the Grammy-nominated early music ensemble, opens its 16th season with a Bastille Day program in partnership with Rienzi, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston house museum for European decorative arts. Rienzi is the host for Ars Lyrica's new chamber music series allowing audiences to fully experience an authentic historical performance. In a reimagined virtual celebration, both organizations are offering access to educational content, tours in English and French, and other activities that culminate in the broadcast of Vive la France!, a concert of music by French composers on historical instruments.

"Our program takes its inspiration from the French innovation in the 18th century - a sonata featuring the cello - and the revolutionary period itself, which is represented with a piano trio and a quintessential song from this era," says artistic director Matthew Dirst. The emotional resonance and demanding virtuosity of Jean-Baptiste Barrière's innovative Sonata in G minor exhibits the use of a cello in a way previously unimagined. Several of his works are quite demanding in terms of technical performance, especially in terms of left- and right-hand coordination, and with complicated fingerings and frequent complex bowing techniques. Barrett Sills, a regular cellist with Houston ensembles including the Houston Grand Opera, delves into the deep sonority of this piece on an authentic 18th century instrument.

The politics of music are on display in the two pieces that round out this all-French program. Ignaz Pleyel, whose Trio Sonata in D major will be featured, fled to London after the revolution because all musical performances had been abolished. Like his contemporary Franz Josef Hayden, Pleyel met with success in his new home. Unfortunately, his success and music are relatively unknown in this modern age. The grand finale includes true musical fireworks in the programmatic imitation of cannon fire in a rendition of the famous March de Marsellois, as the La Marseillaise was known at the time. Claude Balbastre composed primarily for the organ and was fortunate to escape execution despite his connections with French nobility and the royal court.

Event information is available on both organization websites:
Ars Lyrica: www.arslyricahouston.org/rienzi
Rienzi: mfah.org/virtualexperience

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 concert series because of its distinctive focus, and its pioneering efforts in the field of authentic performance have won international acclaim.


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