A Pulitzer Prize–nominated Bach biographer and a Grammy-nominated artistic director will be among the speakers in this Houston Seminar series celebrating the second Houston Early Music Festival. A collaboration of the four leading Houston early-music organizations, the festival will take place February 8–16, 2014.
Our speakers will preview the music to be performed at the festival, which spans four centuries of Western music from the late Middle Ages to the Baroque. They will explain the phenomenon known as HIP—historically informed performance—with its use of period instruments and styles.
January 14—Critics’ Circle
Public radio’s St. John Flynn will lead a panel discussion by current and former Houston music critics Steven Brown, Charles Ward, and Carl Cunningham. They will discuss why early music seems so compelling globally and locally, and will describe the organizations that are leading the movement in Houston.
Steven Brown is the music critic for the Houston Chronicle. Charles Ward, his predecessor at the Chronicle, is now a free-lance writer on music. Carl Cunningham, longtime music and dance critic for the Houston Post, writes program notes for classical music ensembles and is author of the new centennial history of Houston Grand Opera. St. John Flynn is the program director of Classical KUHA 91.7.
January 21—Early Masters
Gregory Barnett is co-director of the Collegium Musicum and chair of musicology in the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. He will explore both the connecting threads and the distinguishing traits found in works by Guillaume de Machaut and Josquin Desprez, the respective masters of medieval and Renaissance vocal polyphony. He earned graduate degrees at Oberlin
January 30—Baroque Musical Theater
Matthew Dirst will explore Baroque opera and oratorio and introduce Alessandro Scarlatti’s opera La Sposa dei Cantici, which will receive its modern world premiere in Houston. He will conclude the evening by playing music by Domenico Scarlatti, son of Alessandro, on the harpsichord. Professor Dirst is the founder and artistic director of Ars Lyrica Houston, a Grammy-nominated ensemble specializing in Baroque chamber and dramatic works. He is associate professor of musicology at the University of Houston’s Moores School, and he was the first American to win major international prizes in both organ and harpsichord.
February 6 —Defining Bach the Composer
What do Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and B-Minor Mass have in common? On the surface, they could not be more different—one a group of instrumental compositions for courtly entertainment and the other a monumental vocal work of sacred character. Yet, despite their conceptual and functional differences, they reveal the artistic and aesthetic principles on which Bach’s ambitions and goals as composer were based. Considered the leading Bach scholar of today, Christoph Wolff is a professor emeritus at Harvard University, where he served as chair of the music department and as dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He is director of the Bach Archive in Leipzig, the world’s preeminent center of Bach scholarship.
Special discount for Ars Lyrica Houston, Houston Early Music, and Mercury season ticket holders and Houston Early Music Festival ticket holders. Attend single lectures for $15 per session (limited availability); students $10 per session. The regular admission price is $25 per session or $95 for the series.