Press Release: Celebrate the Holidays in Mexican Baroque style with The Rose Ensemble

HOUSTON EARLY MUSIC P. O. Box 271193 Houston, TX 77277-1193 HoustonEarlyMusic.org Media contact: Susan Love Fitts, 936-597-8825 susanlovefitts@consolidated.net Celebrate the Holidays in Mexican Baroque style with The Rose Ensemble Houston Early Music’s Hispanic Heritage Series spotlights early music of the Americas HOUSTON, TX— November 5, 2009 – Houston Early Music presents The Rose Ensemble in Celebremos el Niño – A Mexican Baroque Christmas on Sunday, December 13 at 5:00 p.m., at Christ Church Cathedral as part an annual tradition, the Hispanic Heritage Series. The internationally known group brings a rare collection of early Mexican music, featuring over two centuries of festive Christmas dances, ballads and villancicos from the great cathedrals of Puebla and Mexico City. “This is remarkable music that is not heard that often,” says Nancy Ellis, artistic director of Houston Early Music. “We are delighted to bring The Rose Ensemble to Houston for the very first time.” Founded in 1996 by artistic director Jordan Sramek, The Rose Ensemble is a recipient of the 2005 Chorus America Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence and a first-place winner in the sacred music category at the 2007 Tolosa International Choral Competition. The group specializes in bringing to audiences a repertoire that spans over 1,000 years in more than 25 languages. In addition, they are well-known for their research in Hawaiian, Swedish, Middle Eastern and American vocal traditions. “Why do what everyone else is doing?” asks Sramek. “We aim to explore the lesser-known areas of early music.” In addition to being known for their rich research, the Minneapolis-based group is also famous for its energetic performances. “We can be simultaneously scholarly and entertaining,” quips Sramek. “And we have had the good fortune to work with some of the best musicologists of our time who have created wonderful transcriptions for us.” Celebremos el Niño – A Mexican Baroque Christmas provides a perfect example of the kind of far reaching programming that characterizes the Ensemble’s approach. “On a historical level, things can get really exciting. These composers saw Mexico as an open playing field. With fewer restrictions from the Catholic church, we see more compositional experimentation. We see the use of native dance rhythms in the liturgy to entice people to come to church. Seventeenth-century street and dance music became fashionable, even in high mass, during the Mexican Baroque era. Spanish composers used the vivid rhythms and energy of the xácara to drive forward the plots of operas and to introduce theatrical excitement into church music,” says Sramek. “Villancicos even depict the song and dance of African slaves in the Spanish colonies.” The group of ten singers and three instrumentalists tour nationally and internationally. “We are excited to bring this joyous program to Texas,” says Sramek. “We are always delighted to perform in a city such as Houston that has such a substantial early music scene.” What: Houston Early Music Presents The Rose Ensemble in Celebremos el Niño – A Mexican Baroque Christmas When: Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009, 5:00 p.m. Artistic director Jordan Sramek will present a pre-concert talk at 4:15 p.m. Venue Christ Church Cathedral 1117 Texas Avenue Houston, TX 77002 Parking: The Cathedral Garage can be accessed from San Jacinto (northbound). Tickets Prices at the door are $35 for general admission, $30 for seniors, and $10 for students (with student ID.) Free admission for children under 15. For season subscription information and to learn more about Houston Early Music, visit www.HoustonEarlyMusic.org, e-mail info@HoustonEarlyMusic.org or call 713-432-1744. ABOUT HOUSTON EARLY MUSIC One of the nation’s oldest early music organizations, and as the city’s only presenting organization dedicated to covering the large historical span of early music in all of its forms, Houston Early Music epitomizes a movement that has swept the world of classical music. Officially incorporated in 1969, the nonprofit provides performance opportunities for up-and-coming and major early music artists from around the world in an annual concert series. A successful and growing educational outreach program introduces a future generation to a broad range of music. Houston Early Music is funded in part by grants from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance and by Texas Commission on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts. ABOUT THE HISPANIC HERITAGE SERIES Recognizing the importance early Hispanic music has played in the heritage of the Southwest, Houston Early Music developed the Hispanic Heritage Series ten years ago to highlight the cultural achievements of the Americas during the 16th – 18th centuries. The organization’s leadership saw this as an opportunity to present what is truly the early music of this region, and these culturally rich programs quickly became an annual tradition on the Houston Early Music series.Media contact: Susan Love Fitts, 936-597-8825 susanlovefitts@consolidated.net