Ars Lyrica music group finds new rhythm in kids’ literature

Ars Lyrica music group finds new rhythm in kids' literature

Author Emma Kent Wine

Photo: Courtesy Ars Lyrica

Last fall, local composer Emma Kent Wine put pen to paper to begin her next creation, but before there was music, there was an enchanting children’s story. 

She dreamed up an adventure through time, writing of an inquisitive young girl named Maria who jumps back to the Baroque era to meet Venetian virtuoso Antonio Vivaldi with a little help from a musical magician.  

“Maria’s Magical Music Adventure,” commissioned by Ars Lyrica Houston, is now available for purchase in both English and Spanish, and on the afternoon of Nov. 2, the early music ensemble will celebrate its official launch by hosting a fundraiser luncheon at Tony’s, an iconic Italian eatery in Upper Kirby. While guests savor a gourmet meal, Wine will deliver a reading of the delightful tale, which will be accompanied by a live string quartet and followed by a book signing. 

Underwritten by Connie Kwan-Wong and CKW Luxe Magazine, the event will benefit Ars Lyrica’s educational outreach initiatives, namely a series of collaborations involving bilingual presentations of the children’s book, featuring translator Verónica Romero, with Children’s Museum Houston, Rothko Chapel, Express Children’s Theatre, Discovery Green, Miller Outdoor Theatre, Harris County public libraries and more. 

“I wanted to inspire kids and adults to think about how history is created and experienced both in the moment and then hundreds of years later,” said Wine, who, as Ars Lyrica’s operations and outreach manager, is eager to share her enthusiasm for classical music and hopefully spark people’s imaginations in the process. 

‘Maria’s Magical Music Adventure’

The book is on sale for $25 (plus shipping, if applicable) in both English and Spanish through Ars Lyrica Houston’s website: 

Fundraiser Luncheon

When: 11:30 a.m. Nov. 2

Where: Tony’s, 3755 Richmond Ave. 

Details: $250 each; 


Although she never envisioned herself an author, Wine relished in the opportunity to turn back the clock and consider what might have captivated her younger self. First compiling her thoughts into an essay hundreds of words long, she tightened the narrative to be digestible for children before turning her attention to the music. For the accompaniment, she composed a few original musical interjections and arranged excerpts, notably the recognizable theme of spring, from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons.” 

“The book has a little bit of everything,” she said. “It has adventure. It has music. It encourages thinking about emotions, history and social studies. It also is very Houston centric.”  

Guided by a magician named Matthew – in honor of artistic director Matthew Dirst, who founded Ars Lyrica in 1998 – Maria journeys to 18th-century Venice, where the twinkling waterways reflect the star-studded sky. Houston is her home, however, and references to the Bayou City are sprinkled throughout the text as well as in dazzling drawings by Ekaterina Ilchenko, an illustrator based in Europe. Whimsical scenes featuring Texas wildflowers are interspersed with those of an Italian court, where partygoers are dressed in clothing based on authentic Baroque fashion. 

Not only does this concept of time travel align with Ars Lyrica’s mission of crafting experiences around ‘ music from the Baroque era performed on period instruments, but the children’s book has also furthered the organization’s impact in making early music fun and accessible for audiences of all ages. The project – the idea for which came at the suggestion of board member Kwan-Wong, a local magazine publisher and philanthropist – quickly grew into a multidisciplinary endeavor that continues to expand the ensemble’s community programming and collaborative partnerships. 

In addition to being showcased in an episode of Ars Lyrica’s virtual “Musical Storytime” series, “Maria’s Magical Music Adventure” may be experienced live, accompanied by a string quartet or a solo musician, through family-friendly reading events across the city, one of which will take place during the Menil Collection’s Neighborhood Community Day in April. By spring, the tale will also be brought to life onstage in a world-premiere play, directed by Tim Fried-Fiori and co-produced with Express Children’s Theatre. 

“This project checks a lot of boxes for us. It’s an empowering, lovely story for kids, and it’s a continuation of our efforts that we started even before the pandemic,” said Ars Lyrica’s executive director Kinga Ferguson, speaking of the group’s commitment to enhancing social-emotional learning. 

“Houston is a cosmopolitan city, and we need to represent, promote and offer programs that focus on different cultures, languages and ethnicities,” she continued. “We’re sponsoring this project to better the lives of Houstonians, and that’s what we are all working towards.”


Lawrence Elizabeth Knox is a Houston-based writer.



Source link

Leave a Reply Cancel reply