Žak Ozmo is a music director, lutenist, researcher, and specialist in the clinical application of music. He is based in London, U.K. and Memphis, Tennessee. He is the founder-director of the British period instrument ensemble L’Avventura London. In Memphis, he is leading and developing a groundbreaking, city-wide initiative that applies music and sound to treating cancer and other diseases.
Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, former Yugoslavia, Žak 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, he decided to pursue music as a career, becoming interested in the lute family of instruments, historical performance practice, and music therapy. Music was already a life-long passion, but now it has become a solace, and a joyful source of light amid the turmoil.
Žak subsequently received a B.A. in historical performance (with a sub-specialty in music therapy) from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada, a doctorate in early music performance (with a sub-specialty in musicology) from the USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles, and has completed postdoctoral studies in the same area from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. He has studied lute and historical performance practice with Terry McKenna, James Tyler, Pat O’Brien, and William Carter, conducting with Noel Edison, Lucinda Carver, and William Dehning, and musicology with Bruce Alan Brown and Giulio Ongaro, among others.
In London, Žak founded and directs L’Avventura London, a professional ensemble dedicated to a historically-informed exploration of repertoire from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. The majority of L’Avventura’s projects are based on his original research, performing editions, and arrangements, and regularly include modern debuts of forgotten musical treasures, along with fresh takes on more familiar and much-loved masterpieces. Žak’s performances with the group, both live and recorded, have been featured on BBC Radio 3, American NPR, Radio France, Canadian CBC, 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 his work as a musical director for ‘excellent musicianship’ and ‘an admirable understanding of Baroque performance conventions’ (Gramophone), and described L’Avventura’s 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, Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music, Brighton Early Music Festival, Spitalfields Summer Music Festival, Petworth Festival, Cheltenham Festival, York Christmas Early Music Festival, and Gregynog Festival) and international performances in some of the world’s best known venues including the Kölner Philharmonie in Cologne, Grande Auditório Calouste Gulbenkian in Lisbon, the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh, among others. In 2014 Žak conducted L’Avventura London Orchestra, joined by the celebrated soprano Dame Emma Kirkby, countertenor Michael Chance, and the choir Chapelle du Roi, in a performance at the Queen’s Chapel, St James’s Palace, celebrating the three-hundredth anniversary of the ascension of the British royal family to the throne. L’Avventura’s professional relationship with the Royal residence is now ongoing. L’Avventura records for Hyperion and Opella Nova Records.
Hailed by BBC Radio 3 and Early Music Today as a ‘brilliant lutenist’ and Classical Music magazine as an ‘expert on early plucked instruments’ Žak 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 much of his focus is on leading and developing L’Avventura, in addition to appearances as a guest director of various ensembles, orchestras, as well as theatre and opera companies internationally. Recent projects also include a solo recording of equally-tempered music by Vincenzo Galilei with Hyperion Records (‘searching intellect and wry imagination…beautiful, fluent playing’ – Gramophone), and recordings of eighteenth-century Scots songs and Portuguese-Brazilian music are forthcoming.