Arts & Culture

Houston’s Early Music Scene Is Growing And Garnering National Attention

A corner of classical music informed by historical practices and ancient instruments will be well represented at the 7th Annual Houston Early Music Festival.

The Houston Early Music Festival presents the ensemble Les Délices in the concert “Intoxicated: A Medieval Sensory Experience” on November 15, 7:30pm at Palmer Episcopal Church.

Early music refers to music dating back to the 18th century and earlier — think Baroque composers like Bach and Vivaldi, as well as Renaissance and Medieval music.

Houston has no shortage of groups that specialize in early music and historical instruments, and this year seven local organizations are co-presenting the Houston Early Music Festival, taking place November 7-17 at various venues across the city.

“Houston is actually quite a rich city as far as early music goes in the country,” said Antoine Plante, Artistic Director of Mercury. “We have many good organizations that all have audience and general support for it, and so the idea [of the festival] was to get together and let’s make sure more and more people know about the fact that we are a leader in this country.”

Mercury’s Jonathan Godfrey, violin, and Mario Aschauer, fortepiano, will perform sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven as part of the Houston Early Music Festival on November 7, 7:30pm at MATCH.

Deborah Dunham is Executive Director of Houston Early Music, an organization formed in 1965 that is dedicated to presenting early music performances by international artists.

“Because this is [the festival’s] seventh year, we’re starting to get attention from the other major early music festivals in the country – the Boston Early Music Festival and the one in Berkeley,” said Dunham. “We’re realizing that maybe we are a third coast of early music.”

Dunham describes early music as “contemporary music through a wormhole,” a way to connect with the sounds, instruments and performance practices that were new and current during a particular composer’s time period.

“This kind of festival, and really the whole premise of early music, offers something to think about, something new, something that moves you in a particular way … which sparks the imagination, which piques people’s curiosities. That’s really why we do this,” said Matthew Dirst, Artistic Director of Ars Lyrica Houston.

The 2019 festival features chamber, choral and organ music, including Bach’s “The Art of the Fugue” set to interpretive dance. A full schedule of performances can be found here.

Listen to the complete interview about the Houston Early Music Festival on the podcast Unwrap Your Candies Now.

Bach Society Houston presents Bach’s “The Art of the Fugue” prepared for organ by Rick Erickson, combined with interpretive dance by New York’s SYREN Dance Company on November 17, 6pm at Christ The King Lutheran Church, as part of the Houston Early Music Festival.

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Catherine Lu

Catherine Lu

Content Producer & Announcer

While growing up in Chicago and Houston, Catherine’s love for art, music and creative writing was influenced by her teachers and parents. She was once concertmaster of the Clear Lake High School Orchestra and a four-time violinist of the Texas All-State Symphony. A graduate of the University of Chicago, Catherine...

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