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Ars Lyrica’s Roaring Twenties Kickoff Reception: An Evening Honoring Robin Angly and Miles Smith

By Kimberly Chuck

Miles Smith and Robin Angly

Miles Smith and Robin Angly

Stephanie Larson, Mario Gudmundsson and Darrin Davis

Kinga Ferguson, Matthew Dirst

Kinga Ferguson, Matthew Dirst

Photography by Joel Mapes

The upcoming Ars Lyrica Roaring Twenties Gala was preceded by a kickoff reception on the evening of Saturday, January 21, 2017 at the home of Stephanie Larson, the occasion’s gracious hostess. Co-chaired by Darrin Davis and Mario Gudmundsson, the intimate affair honored music aficionados Robin Angly and Miles Smith, longtime supporters of the arts, including Ars Lyrica and its musical director, Matthew Dirst.


The husband and wife duo are the honorary chairs of the official Roaring Twenties Gala to be held on March 11, 2017, which will also honor the philanthropic couple. Proceeds will go toward the goal of creating a new full-length opera featuring George Frideric Handel’s first great masterpiece, “Agrippina.” This ambitious endeavor would not be possible without the passion, enthusiasm, and love of these two individuals. Therefore, a night celebrating the couple was the ideal way to begin the journey toward mounting the grand production set for the 2018/19 season.


Having had the chance to sit down with Robin Angly and Miles Smith, and ask them a few questions, CKW Luxe learned that the idea to pursue “Agrippina” arose from Ars Lyrica’s new artistic direction that includes ambitious productions of fully-staged baroque operas and collaborations with leading choral groups and dance companies. As a result, Robin had the following thought: “Ars Lyrica is exceptional. I know we can raise capital, too, and put on a great show.” That was when the magic happened, sparking a great deal of hype and excitement. Working with Matthew Dirst, Robin and Miles decided their objective would be to produce a staged Handel opera at Zilkha Hall.


The couple told us that Ars Lyrica is close to their hearts since they have been with the organization from its inception twelve years ago. It was also exciting to learn that they were among its first board members. As the night’s honorees, they both conveyed their overwhelming gratitude for being recognized in such a memorable way by their fellow music and arts lovers. Robin and Miles also expressed their belief that everything was coming full circle: Due to their support of various other causes, the founders of those causes attended the evening to support them and their splendid vision. Being able to share the moment with each other made it remarkably memorable. Their bond to each other and to music was fortified with every smile, handshake, and hug.


It was also divulged by Miles that “Agrippina” is only the tip of the iceberg. He and Robin plan to produce a string of operas to be put on by Ars Lyrica in the near future.


The evening began with a meet and greet between the two honorees and each guest. Afterward, everyone mingled over wine and champagne paired with an assortment of scrumptious handcrafted appetizers provided by Complete Eats. The offerings included braised pulled pork crostini topped with bacon and sweet potato jam, black winter truffles, and mini limoncello bites topped with an elegant candied pearl. Following the cocktail conversations and pictures, two sets of personalized musical numbers were performed by talented jazz pianist Paul English accompanied by the mesmerizingly delicate vocals of professional vocalist and soprano Megan Stapleton. The hand-picked melodies told a story that showcased the transition of each musical era from 1920 to1940. Framed by the backdrop of Houston’s glittering skyline, it was like being transported to an exclusive jazz club during those years.

Mathew Dirst closed the evening with a few heartfelt words of appreciation to all the guests and a special toast to the remarkable couple of the night. All the while, beautiful jazz continued playing softly in the background giving this affair a charming musical ending.


Ars Lyrica Roaring Twenties Gala

Ars Lyrica’s Roaring Twenties Gala will take place on Saturday, March, 11 2017 at 6:30 p.m. in Houston’s historic Esperson Building. The evening will begin with cocktails in the contemporary atmosphere of the Rusk Lobby and continue with an exciting musical performance in the Italian Renaissance-styled Niels Lobby, which will be followed by an elegant dinner enjoyed in the Art Deco-styled Mellie Lobby. For your listening pleasure, the musical program will feature acclaimed countertenor John Holiday, Ars Lyrica director, Matthew Dirst playing harpsichord, violinist Elizabeth Blumenstock, and viola da gambist Mary Springfels. They’ll be mixing it up with a festive blend of music from the 1720s and the 1920s—Handel meets the Jazz Age!

For more information about the gala, please visit:

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