Newly Discovered Works Highlight Polish Artistry In Golden Age

Ars Lyrica Houston, the Grammy-nominated early music ensemble, closes its Side by Side concert series with Cantio Polonica, a program presented in partnership with The Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Houston and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. Curated by lutenist and scholar Arash Noori, this program highlights the musical heritage of Poland and also features Ars Lyrica artistic director and harpsichordist Matthew Dirst. The program will be broadcast on Sunday, May 23 at 6 pm.

Ars Lyrica executive director and native Pole Kinga Ferguson is thrilled to bring this program of rarely-heard Polish Baroque music to Houston audiences: “Although less-known by name than their Italian or German counterparts, Polish composers featured on this concert enjoyed prolific careers at the royal courts of Poland, Italy, and Germany and contributed an extraordinary body of work to European musical practice during the “golden age” of the 17th and 18th centuries. This presentation is especially meaningful to me as it coincides with the May celebration of the Polish Constitution, only the second democratic constitution in the world next to the United States. We are grateful to The Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Houston for promoting Polish musical heritage and for co-sponsoring Cantio Polonica.”

Arash Noori, prize-winning guitarist and lutenist, is a regular guest with Ars Lyrica’s continuo section. His interest in Polish lute music was the genesis for this project, which was sparked by Michał Gondko’s 2015 CD, Polonica. “There have been other recordings and exciting discoveries bringing to light fantastic Polish repertoire that has largely gone unheard for the past few centuries,” says Noori. “The field of Early Music has been challenging the way the story of western music has been told traditionally, which I find incredibly exciting. I’m grateful to the work of these performers and scholars that have made this project possible for us through their labor of love.” Joining Noori for the program are violinists Stephanie Raby and Maria Lin, and da gamba player Eric Smith.

The program includes works by Wojciech Długoraj (c.1557-after 1619) and the Długoraj Lute Book (c. 1619), Adam Jarzębski (c.1590-c.1648) and his seminal Canzoni e concerti (1627), and Wenceslaus Wodiczka (1715-1774) with his inventive first publication, Sei sonate, op. 1 (1739).

Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and con 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 conferences because of its distinctive focus, and its pioneering efforts in the field of authentic performance have won international acclaim.

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