Ars Lyrica Houston
Sunday, December 19, 2021, 4 p.m.
Corpus Christi Church
Matthew Dirst, conductor and harpsichord
Camille Ortiz, soprano; Cecilia Duarte, mezzo-soprano
What better way to enjoy the holidays than with Ars Lyrica Houston, the celebrated ensemble from Texas. Its festive Crossing Borders contains 17th- and 18th-century music from the Western Hemisphere composed at that crucial moment when European and indigenous traditions were beginning to interact. The vocalists and instrumentalists perform villancicos, romances, and a wealth of other compositions by Roque Ceruti, José Duran, Antonio de Salazar, Manuel Joseph Duron, and others.
“Matthew Dirst, artistic director of Ars Lyrica Houston, has an unerring ability to put together programs that are musically rich and varied, framed in fascinating historical context, and vividly brought to life by the finest guest soloists and musicians.”—Arts & Culture Texas
The virtual program becomes available on Sunday, December 26, 4 p.m. ET, followed by a live Q&A, and remains viewable until January 9.
Artist Bios and Program
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 while developing their dramatic potential, emotional resonance, and expressive power, especially in the realm of early 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. Its pioneering efforts in the field of authentic performance have won international acclaim, including a Grammy nomination (Best Opera, 2011) for J. A. Hasse’s Marc Antonio e Cleopatra.
Ars Lyrica Artistic Director Matthew Dirst was recently described by the Washington Post as an “efficient, extremely precise conductor who has an ear for detail.” Dirst’s stylish playing and conducting of Ars Lyrica Houston’s performances and recordings have won wide acclaim. He is the first American musician to win major international prizes in both organ and harpsichord, including the American Guild of Organists’ National Young Artist Competition and the Warsaw International Harpsichord Competition. His degrees include a PhD in musicology from Stanford University and the prix de virtuosité in both organ and harpsichord from the Conservatoire National de Reuil-Malmaison, France, where he spent two years as a Fulbright scholar. Equally active as a scholar and as an organist, Dirst is Professor of Music at the Moores School of Music, University of Houston, and organist at St. Philip Presbyterian Church in Houston. His publications include Engaging Bach: The Keyboard Legacy from Marpurg to Mendelssohn (Cambridge University Press, 2012), and Bach and the Organ (University of Illinois Press, 2016).
Internationally recognized for her compelling performances of opera and concert repertory, Puerto Rican soprano Camille Ortiz is quickly establishing herself as a leading artist in standard operatic roles and on the concert stage. Recent appearances include Micaëla in Carmen at Miami’s Magic City Opera, a debut with the Naples Philharmonic (FL), and Norina in Don Pasquale with Florida’s Gulfshore Opera. She returned to San Francisco for the Mozart Magnified series with Philharmonia Baroque as featured soprano soloist in Exsultate, jubilate, among other works. In 2018, Camille made her Houston debut as Poppea in Handel’s Agrippina with Ars Lyrica Houston. Upcoming performances include her debut as Marie in Daughter of the Regiment with Opera Orlando. In 2018, BBC Music Magazine named Ms. Ortiz the vocal “stand-out” on the widely acclaimed recording of Rameau’s Le Temple de la Gloire, a co-production of the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles and Philharmonia Baroque, conducted by Nicholas McGegan and directed by Catherine Turocy. Camille completed a DMA at University of North Texas, a master of music degree at Manhattan School of Music, and a bachelor of music degree at Oral Roberts University in voice and violin. She is a graduate of the pre-college division of the Puerto Rico Conservatory. She is winner of the Gerda Lissner Foundation’s 2008 Encouragement Award and a finalist in both the Liederkranz 2009 competition (Lieder division), and the Sergei and Olga Koussevitzky 2010 Young Artists Competition. She is on the faculty of Florida Southwestern State College, Florida Gulf Coast University, Ave Maria University, and the Greek Opera Studio.
Praised by the New York Times as a “creamy voiced mezzo-soprano,” Cecilia Duarte has created several roles in contemporary operas such as Renata in Cruzar la Cara de la Luna and its prequel, El Milagro del Recuerdo, as well as other operas such as Gracie in A Way Home, Harriet/First Responder in After the Storm, Alicia in Some Light Emerges, and Alma in the first episode of Houston Grand Opera’s web series, Star-Cross’d, which won a Telly Award in 2019. Cecilia also appears as a soloist in the Houston Chamber Choir’s Grammy-winning album Duruflé: The Complete Choral Works. As an early music artist, Cecilia has performed at the Oregon Bach Festival, the Festivalensemble in Stuttgart, Germany, and the Festival de Música Barroca in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She performs often with Ars Lyrica Houston, Mercury Houston, and most recently with the newly formed Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble.