Music Director, Lutenist, Scholar
ak Ozmo is a music director, lutenist, and a scholar in historical performance who resides in Britain. He is the artistic and music director of acclaimed period instrument ensemble L'Avventura London, and the new Director of Early Music at the University of Hull.
Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, ak first started his musical training at the age of seven on the classical guitar and had his first nationally broadcasted solo performance at the age of fourteen. In his late teens he moved from his war-torn native country to Canada where, along with completing an architectural diploma, his musical interests quickly turned to the lute family of instruments, performance practice, and related history and philosophy. Music was already a life-long passion, but now it became a solace, a joyful source of light in the midst of turmoil.
This pursuit then took him to the United States and Britain, and included studies with James Tyler, Pat O'Brien, William Carter, and Terry McKenna. ak studied conducting with Noel Edison and Lucinda Carver, and musicology with Bruce Alan Brown and Giulio Ongaro, among others. He holds a doctorate in early music performance from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and has completed postdoctoral studies in the same area from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
Hailed by Classical Music magazine as an 'expert on early plucked instruments' ak has performed as a continuo player, chamber musician, and as a soloist across Europe, North America, and Asia on the archlute, theorbo, Renaissance lute, and Baroque guitar. His performances include engagements with some of the world's finest ensembles, while currently much of his focus is on developing his own period-instrument group L'Avventura London in addition to his appearances as a guest director of various ensembles, orchestras, and opera companies internationally. Upcoming projects also include a solo recording with Hyperion Records.
In London ak founded and directs L'Avventura London, a professional ensemble dedicated to a historically-informed exploration of repertoire from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. Testifying to the ensemble's rapid rise since its formation in 2009, L'Avventura's performances have been featured on BBC Radio 3, American NPR, Australian ABC Classic FM, German KulturRadio and MDR Figaro, Austrian ORF Radio Ö1, Belgium Radio Klara, Spanish Catalunya Radio and Russian Classic FM, among others; the press has praised the group for its 'excellent musicianship' and 'an admirable understanding of Baroque performance conventions' (Gramophone), and described its performances as 'engaging, entertaining an enormous amount of atmosphere and character' (Opera News). L'Avventura's appearances include major festivals across the United Kingdom (including the York Early Music Festival, Brighton Early Music Festival, Gregynog Festival, and Tudeley Festival) and scheduled international performances as far afield as Brazil. The majority of L'Avventura's concert programmes are based on ak's original research, his performing editions, and arrangements, and regularly include modern debuts of forgotten musical treasures, along with fresh takes on more familiar and much-loved masterpieces. L'Avventura currently records for Hyperion and Opella Nova Records.
ak has been a recipient of various prestigious awards, prizes, and scholarships including a recent Society for Theatre Research award for reconstructing and recording music from English ballad operas and the Dowland Prize for Lute at the John Kerr Competition in Kent. He has also been active as a lecturer in historical performance practice, collegium director, and lute teacher for various early music societies and at the University of Oxford, Royal College of Music in London, University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and the University of California at Fullerton. As an extension of his educational activities, in 2011 he formed the London Community Baroque Orchestra (now functioning as an educational arm of L'Avventura London) based at the Foundling Museum in London, which he also directs. The goal of the organization is to provide training in historical performance practice to its members and to present high-level musical performances.
ak's writings on historical performance practice have been translated into French, German, Spanish, and Korean, and appear in some of the leading journals and magazines in the field. His affinity for re-discovering and reviving lost musical repertoires has led to an ongoing affiliation with the groundbreaking Ballad Operas Online database through Oxford University Digital Libraries, while his current projects for publication include an edition of eighteenth-century lute concerti for A-R Editions and supervision of the lute section of Francesco Geminiani Opera Omnia for Ut Orpheus Edizioni (general editor: Christopher Hogwood). Further, he frequently presents his research at conferences in Europe and North America; recent presentations include those at the SECEM, the Universidade Nova de Lisboa; the Handel, Purcell, and Literature conference at Senate House, University of London; the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies; and the Annual Meeting of the American Musicological Society in Philadelphia (USA).