Press Release

Summer Solstice Observance: Contemplation in Light

May 26, 2022

Houston, TX, May 26, 2022 – On June 21st, Grammy-nominated early music ensemble Ars Lyrica Houston, in collaboration with the Rothko Chapel, will present a reflective program of medieval music, entitled Contemplation in Light, in observance of the Summer Solstice. Two mainstage Ars Lyrica musicians, mezzo-soprano Cecilia Duarte and percussionist Jesús Pacheco, have carefully curated an hour-long immersive experience in the Rothko Chapel with solo voice and percussion instruments.


Contemplation in Light offers a moment of meditation and reflection through spiritual medieval music. The experience will begin with Gregorian chant from the ninth and tenth centuries, bringing inner peace and space for meditation, and will continue with the music of Hildegard von Bingen, a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and polymath in the twelfth century. The selected pieces highlight vocal lines of chant with added percussion instruments such as gongs, bells, vibraphone, and drums. 


Presented in the sacred space that is the Rothko Chapel, this program is part of a continuum programming the Chapel has commissioned and shared that celebrates moments to meditation and reflection. “Contemplation in Light will be an opportunity to share an auditory experience that will amplify the environment of solace that the Chapel represents. Capturing in music the spirit of the Chapel has always been something we’ve done for generations.”


Praised by the New York Times as “a creamy voiced mezzo-soprano," Cecilia Duarte is a versatile singer who specializes in early music and contemporary opera. Jésus Pacheco is a Spanish percussionist who has performed with many top orchestras and ensembles across Europe and the United States. Duarte expands on the program specially curated for Rothko Chapel, “Rothko chapel is among our favorite places in Houston. As immigrants, the chapel is a symbol of the home we have found in Houston and the life we aspire for us and our community. We loved designing this program specifically to be performed at the chapel, in hopes that people can find a moment of solace and peace, just like we have found through the music we make together.” 


The concert is free, with a suggested contribution of $5-20 and registration online.

For registration and more information about the program, please visit


About the artists

Spanish percussionist Jesús Pacheco was born in Jerez de la Frontera. Jesús graduated from Sevilla’s Conservatory of Music in 2010. During his years in Sevilla, he acquired extensive orchestral experience as a percussionist and timpanist, and he performed with many orchestras, ensembles, and chamber groups across Europe. Jesús was selected as a student at the Academy of Orchestral Studies Baremboim-Said where he was mentored by Berlin Staatskapelle's timpanist Torsten Schönfeld. In 2007 he entered the Festivalensemble Orchestra in Stuttgart, directed by Helmut Rilling, with whom he later worked at the Stuttgarter Bachakademie Orchestra. He has also been the timpanist with the West-Eastern Divan, directed by Daniel Barenboim. In 2012, Jesús moved to Houston, Texas, where he has been very active as a performer and music educator, often playing with local ensembles such as Ars Lyrica Houston and Mercury Chamber Orchestra, amongst others.


Soloist in a Grammy-winning recording of the complete choral works of Maurice Duruflé and praised by the New York Times as “a creamy voiced mezzo-soprano," Cecilia Duarte is a versatile singer who specializes in early music and contemporary opera. Role premieres include Renata in the mariachi opera Cruzar la Cara de la Luna (Houston Grand Opera and other national and international venues), Renata in El Milagro del Recuerdo (HGO), and Alma in the opera web series Star Cross’d (HGO). Cecy is a regular singer with Ars Lyrica Houston and Mercury Houston, a vocalist of the Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble, and most recently she debuted with the Boston Early Music Festival. Future engagements include Handel’s Messiah in a Spanish-language adaptation with Bach Collegium San Diego and world premieres of music with ROCO Houston, Apollo Chamber Players, and Kaleidoscope, as well as the release of her first solo album, Reencuentros (Reference Recordings).


About Ars Lyrica Houston

Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and conductor Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica Houston presents a diverse array of music in its original context while creating connections to contemporary life. Ars Lyrica’s acclaimed programming features neglected gems alongside familiar masterworks, and extracts the dramatic potential, emotional resonance, and expressive power of music. Its local subscription series, according to the Houston Chronicle, “sets the agenda” for early music in Houston. Ars Lyrica appears regularly at international festivals and concert series because of its distinctive focus, and its pioneering efforts in the field of authentic performance have won international acclaim, including a Grammy nomination for Best Opera.

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