Sunday, February 12 | 6:00 p.m. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
Fast passagework? High notes? No problem for the greatest virtuosos of the early 18th century, whose talents inspired some of the most spectacular music of the late Baroque. J. S. Bach’s Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, one of the great showpieces of the soprano and trumpet repertoire, headlines a program that also includes showstoppers by Vivaldi and Scarlatti. Pre-concert talk 5:30 p.m. with Matthew Dirst and friends.
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.
Bach Society Houston
BACH FAMILY MOTETS
Sunday, February 19 | 6:00 p.m. Christ the King Lutheran Church
The Bach family was enormous — Johann Sebastian had eight siblings and 20 children, many of them composers, and J.S. Bach almost certainly studied their compositions. Join us as we trace the development of this incredible, yet often-forgotten genre from the earliest works of the Bach clan, through Johann Sebastian’s marvelous Fürchte dich nicht, BWV 228 (“Be Not Afraid”), one of the pinnacles of western choral music. Pre-concert talk 5:15 p.m. with acclaimed Bach motets scholar Daniel Melamed.
Now in its 34th season, the Houston Chronicle calls Bach Society Houston “the city’s major celebrant of Bach’s glorious legacy.” BSH brings rich, vibrant, historically-informed performances of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his contemporaries to a diverse, enthusiastic audience through concerts, Bach Vespers, organ recitals, and chamber music concerts. Resident ensembles consist of the Bach Choir, a 16-voice professional choir, and the Bach Orchestra, an ensemble with members from all over the United States performing on instruments from Bach’s time. BSH also presents international instrumentalists, singers, and guest conductors.
Houston Early Music
PROFETI DELLA QUINTA
Saturday, February 18 | 7:30 p.m. Congregation Beth Israel
Swiss-based vocal quintet Profetti della Quinta portrays the many-faceted art of Italian Jewish composer Salomone Rossi (c.1570–c.1630) as a court composer in the service of the Gonzaga family and as an innovator of devotional music for the synagogue, performing a selection of his Italian madrigals, instrumental pieces, and Hebrew prayers. Pre-concert viewing of the documentary film The Search for Salomone Rossi at 6:30 p.m.
As the city's only presenting organization dedicated to covering the large historical span of early music in all of its forms, Houston Early Music presents ensembles that are part of a movement that has swept the world of classical music: historically-informed performances of vocal, instrumental, and chamber music from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century, using period instruments.
RAMEAU'S LES INDES GALANTES
Saturday, February 11 | 8:00 p.m. WORTHAM CENTER, CULLEN THEATER
Rameau’s music to the opera-ballet Les Indes galantes perfectly represents the French Baroque — now, experience this work in a unique collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston featuring a curated series of eighteenth century paintings projected behind the orchestra – a singular way to experience this music like never before. Pre-concert talk 7:15 p.m. with Gregory Barnett.
Founded in 2000, Mercury offers performances of a broad repertoire of music on period instruments and has garnered critical acclaim around the world. The orchestra performs more than 50 concerts a year, including a seven-concert Downtown series at the Wortham Center’s Cullen Theater which features distinctive programs like multi-media collaborations American Skies and last year’s audience favorite Bach & Piazzolla and world-class concerts with guest artists like mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and early music specialist and conductor Harry Bicket. Mercury extends its reach outside the formal concert hall with its Neighborhood Series, bringing casual, affordable and intimate hour-long performances to four Houston neighborhoods. Mercury is redefining the orchestra’s role in the community under the artistic leadership of Antoine Plante. Through its vibrant and inspiring performances, award-winning education programs, and world-class music on period instruments, Mercury is celebrating its commitment of making the power and passion of music accessible to all.
Piping Rock Singers
MADRIGALS, MOTETS, AND MERRYMENT
Friday, February 17 | 7:00 p.m. Christ the King Lutheran Church
The Piping Rock Singers presents Madrigals, Motets and Merryment, an evening of rarely heard street song style madrigals and beloved favorites. The program combines featured works by Dering, Gibbons and Janequin with a sampling of madrigals by other treasured Renaissance composers.
The Piping Rock Singers were formed in 1995 by a group of like-minded Houstonian church choir musicians who love the repertoire of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. The organization is directed by Kevin Clarke and dedicated to increasing the familiarity, understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the wealth of beautiful sacred and secular music composed from c. 900 to 1750. The Piping Rock Singers presents several concerts per year to diverse audiences in a wide variety of venues. Although a significant portion of its repertoire is performed a cappella, period instrument accompaniment is included where appropriate. Many of the organization’s concerts include an educational component and some feature detailed lectures on the group of works being performed. The Piping Rock Singers also make recordings, focusing on lesser-known, rarely heard music from those periods.
Vocal Master Class
Join the Houston Early Music Festival as we present a Vocal Master Class in partnership with Houston Grand Opera, the University of Houston, and Rice University. Soprano Sherezade Panthaki is quickly being recognized as one of early music's greatest stars, and she will coach students and professional singers in Baroque vocal performance practice. Audience members will learn about Baroque ornamentation, and the practices that made these forms the epitome of classical singing.
Bach's Little Organ Book
Bach’s Little Organ Book (Orgelbüchlein) consists of short pieces based on Lutheran hymns, which were designed to teach organ students various aspects of theory and technique. And what better group to perform this sublime collection than students from the University of Houston and Rice University organ departments! The students will play these marvelous works on the famous Bach Organ at Christ the King Lutheran Church, which was closely modeled after the instruments that Johann Sebastian himself played.