Ars Lyrica Houston, Bach Society Houston, Houston Early Music and Mercury - The Orchestra Redefined will host the Second Annual Houston Early Music Festival (HEMF) from February 8-16, 2014 at venues across the city. The festival will feature four main-stage performances, two ancillary performances and four lectures.Seeking to capitalize on the local growth of early music programming and period-instrument expertise, HEMF is an international platform for showcasing Houston’s growing talent pool and flourishing early music organizations. A longtime goal of Artistic Directors Matthew Dirst (ALH) and Antoine Plante (MO), the success of the initial HEMF in March 2013 encouraged partner organizations to expand into an entire week’s worth of activities in February 2014.Featured HEMF soloists include a number of local and international early-music experts and recording artists including Grammy–nominated conductor Matthew Dirst; Dresden music scholar and conductor, Peter Kopp; Texas-based vocalists Meredith Ruduski, Randall Umstead and Timothy Jones; Canadian soprano Meghan Lindsay; internationally renowned countertenors John Holiday, Jay Carter, and Ryland Angel; British harpsichordist Richard Egarr; and the UK-based ensemble Orlando Consort.The combined efforts of four distinctive and innovative early music organizations will provide an excellent educational platform and multiple opportunities to bring greater awareness to Houston’s extraordinarily diverse and robust arts scene.Bach Society Houston presents an Organ Recital: The 18 Leipzig Chorales, Sunday, February 9, 2014 at 6:00pm. at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 2353 Rice Boulevard at Greenbriar Drive, Houston, Texas 77005.Organ Recitals feature distinguished international guest organists playing the magnificent Bach Organ at Christ the King Lutheran Church, built by Fritz Noack in 1995 in the 18th century Saxon style similar to those that Bach knew and played.With Bach’s organ works at the center of the repertoire, the series presents a variety of composers and works suited to this unique instrument.Scheduled Program:J. S. Bach: The 18 Leipzig Chorales, BWV 651-668Featuring:Stefan Bleicher, organ
Mario Hospach Martini (pictured above), organBorn in 1962, Stefan Johannes Bleicher initially studied organ and organ improvisation with Lionel Rogg at the Conservatoire Supérieure in Geneva after his Abitur school-leaving examination and then with Ewald Kooiman at the Amsterdam College of the Arts as well as historical performance practice with Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Mozarteum in Salzburg.Regular concertizing has taken him to great cathedrals and major churches throughout Europe, the United States, and Canada. His considerable discography to date encompasses more than thirty CD recordings including the principal organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach as well as the complete organ works of Franz Liszt, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, and Camille Saint-Saëns.As a visiting instructor he regularly presents courses in organ interpretation and improvisation at various music colleges and universities in Germany and abroad.Since 1991 Bleicher has been the director of the Southern German Organ Academy for historical performance practice at the great baroque organs in Baden-Württemberg. After his first instructorship at the Leipzig College of Music he served as professor of organ and improvisation at the Zurich College of the Arts from 2001 to 2009. He also held the post of city organist at the famous historical Riepp-Walcker organ in the Winterthur City Church. Since the summer semester 2009 he has held a professorship in organ at the Trossingen State College of Music.Mario Hospach-Martini, born in 1971, studied performance practice with Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Mozarteum in Salzburg in 1992. He received his main musical influences on the organ from Prof. Stefan Johannes Bleicher, Prof. Michael Kapsner and Prof. Dr. Robert Hill. He studied with Prof. Michael Kapsner between 1993 and 2000 at the Musikhochschule in Trossingen: following his first course of studies which he successfully completed with distinction he took an advanced course in organ studies. Afterwards Mario Hospach-Martini continued his studies in performance practice at the Musikhochschule in Freiburg with Prof. Dr. Robert Hill.Since completing his musical education Mario Hospach-Martini has followed an active concert career. He has already performed, among other venues, in Canada, at the Festival in Asiago (Italy), at the international Sommerakademie Mozarteum in Salzburg, in the Smetana Hall in Prague, in the Istvan basilica in Budapest, in Westminster Abbey in London, in St. Thomas Church New York, and also in cathedrals and the main churches of Ascona, Strasbourg, Zurich, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Ulm, Freiburg, Hildesheim, Ratzeburg, Fulda, Lüneburg, Potsdam, Magdeburg, Erfurt, Freiberg (Dom), Dresden (Hofkirche) and Leipzig (Thomaskirche). He also performs regularly on the great historical organs in southern Germany. As well his teaching at the Musikhochschule Zurich and the "Süddeutsche Orgelakademie" is a important part of his profile as a musician. Actually Mario Hospach-Martini is teaching organ at the University of Music in Trossingen, Germany.WHAT IS EARLY MUSIC?Early Music is music from the mid-18th century and before, music from the Baroque, Renaissance and Middle Ages. From the Gregorian chant to Bach’s organ works, Handel’s operas, and Vivaldi’s concertos, it is the most beautiful and exciting music from our Western heritage. Early music experts strive to revive forgotten masterpieces of past eras and give us a glimpse of how this music was performed: "what are those angels singing and playing in medieval paintings…what did queen Elizabeth I dance to, what entertained Louis XIV at dinner?" (Forrest Kelly, Thomas. Early Music: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.)Early music is performed on historical period instruments (or their replicas) because they produce livelier and more authentic sounds than their modern equivalents.