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 Abendmusik Concert: Mass in B Minor, Sunday, February 16, 2014 at 6:00pm. at Zilkha Hall, The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts.Abendmusik Concerts are named after a tradition—begun in the seventeenth century and perhaps best known under Buxtehude around 1700—of giving public concerts in churches outside of worship services, often financed by businessmen and private donors.In this series the Bach Society presents secular works, larger sacred works such as the passion settings and oratorios, and guest ensembles in a concert setting.Scheduled Program:J. S. Bach: Mass in B Minor, BWV 232Featuring:Bach Choir Houston and MercuryMeredith Ruduski, soprano
Julia Dawson, soprano
Ryland Angel, countertenor
Randall Umstead, tenor
Timothy Jones, bassPeter Kopp (pictured above). guest conductorPre-concert lecture starts 45 minutes before the concert.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.