Matthew Dirst

Ars Lyrica Houston is an ensemble dedicated to providing audiences with historically-informed performances, of the highest caliber, of music from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Ars Lyrica Houston will set new standards of excellence in period-instrument programming and performance locally, nationally, and internationally.

Ars Lyrica Houston (ALH) offers audiences a broad range of music from the 17th and 18th centuries, on period instruments and with careful attention to period style and context. Ars Lyrica, which means “lyric art,“ performs on period instruments because they produce livelier, more intimate sounds than their modern equivalents and are better suited to the performance of Baroque music especially. Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and conductor Matthew Dirst and incorporated in 2003 as a 501(c)(3) organization, this Grammy–nominated ensemble offers a yearly series of programs at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Houston and also performs regularly at other area and national venues.

Under Dirst’s leadership, ALH “set[s] the agenda for imaginative period–instrument programming in Houston“ (according to the Houston Chronicle) with a distinctive blend of chamber, dramatic, and sacred works from the late Renaissance through the Classical era. Its recordings have garnered international acclaim: Gramophone, the leading journal of the classical recording industry, praised Ars Lyrica’s debut CD for its “exemplary skill and taste,“ the ensemble’s musicians for their “impassioned performance“ of never-before recorded works by Alessandro Scarlatti; while Ars Lyrica’s latest CD, the world première recording of Johann Adolf Hasse’s Marc Antonio e Cleopatra, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Opera 2011.

ALH is proud to have represented Houston’s thriving early music community with programs at national meetings and conventions of the American Musicological Society, the American Bach Society, the American Guild of Organists, the Society for 17th–Century Music, and, this past summer, at the world–renowned Boston Early Music Festival. ALH also serves communities across Texas through frequent collaborations with other Texas–based arts organizations, including leading choral groups and early music sponsors. In addition to its concert and recording activities, ALH offers diverse outreach programs that focus on enriching the concert experience and building new audiences.

Current outreach activities include two distinctive in–school programs for K–12 children in the Houston area, family concerts at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, university-level workshops and collaborations, demonstrations of period instruments, performances at nontraditional venues, and lectures about upcoming programs.

Violinist Alan Austin Oboist Kamins