Žak’s performing career is heavily fueled by his musicological and performance-based research. Whether his focus in on the influence of the transatlantic slave trade on the history of Western music, music for the English theatre, or Italian lute music, among other topics, his goal is to make a real contribution to the state of human knowledge, and then to turn that knowledge into superb and compelling musical performances. Most of Žak’s and L’Avventura’s concert programmes are based on his original research, performing editions, and musical arrangements, and regularly revive forgotten musical works and neglected historical performance practices.
Žak’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 current projects for publication include a critical edition (with Vanessa L. Rogers and Berta Joncus) of Isaac Bickerstaffe’s 1762 opera Love in a Village (Bärenreiter, 2020), as well as an edition of eighteenth-century lute concerti for A-R Editions and a lute tutor for Hal Leonard Publishing, both to be published in 2021.
Žak is currently also working on a documentary on the influence of the transatlantic slave trade on the history of Western music before 1800.
He frequently presents his research at conferences in Europe and North America and speaks on various related topics on BBC Radio 3 and American NPR. 2019 also saw his first TEDx Talk. Recent conference presentations include those at the Annual Meetings of the American Musicological Society in San Antonio and Philadelphia; the 16th Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music in Salzburg; the SECEM, the Universidade Nova de Lisboa; the Handel, Purcell, and Literature conference at Senate House, University of London; and the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.
In addition to his busy performing schedule, Žak holds a Visiting Professorship at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, where he teaches classes in Creative Entrepreneurship, Music History, and Search (Great Books), and a Visiting Fellowship at Goldsmiths, University of London, teaching classes that combine performance and scholarship. Before that, Žak was the Director of Early Music at the University of Hull. 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, USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles, and the University of California at Fullerton. As an extension of his educational activities, in 2011 Žak 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. Žak has been a recipient of various prestigious awards, prizes, and scholarships including a 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.
Žak Ozmo is a pioneer of the performance-based research into the influences of the transatlantic slave trade on the history of Western musical tradition during the early modern period. His starting point was the analysis and exploration of Portuguese music from 1600-1800 in light of African-derived contributions, and he has now broadened this research to include other parts of the Western world, including Britain, France, Netherlands, and North America.
Žak currently holds a Canada Council for the Arts grant for research in this area, including creating new concert programs and writing a documentary series for BBC Television.
His recent and upcoming scholarly presentations on this topic include:
Early Music Summit, REMA – European Early Music Network: ‘Towards a Global Performance Practice’ (conference paper/poster session), Brussels, 21 November, 2020.
American Musicological Society Annual Meeting in San Antonio, 1 – 4 November 2018 (panelist, conference paper)
‘Historical Performance: Theory, Practice, and Interdisciplinarity’, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, 17-19 May 2019 (conference paper)
‘Atlantic Crossings’ conference, Boston University, 7-8 June 2019 (conference paper)
Opera & Race: Celebrating the Past, Building the Future, Rhodes College, 12 – 13 Septemberm 2019 (panel chair)
Žak’s most recent BBC Radio 3 broadcast focusing on this topic can be heard below:
BBC Radio 3, The Early Music Show: ‘Seductive, Voluptuous, Profane: 18th-century Portuguese Love Songs’, co-presenter (with Lucie Skeaping),
script co-writer, and researcher.
New concert project:
Tunde Jegede, kora, ‘cello
Žak Ozmo, archlute, baroque guitar
In this groundbreaking concert programme, the kora virtuoso and specialist in African classical music Tunde Jegede joins forces with the lutenist and a historical performance specialist Žak Ozmo in an exploration of the fascinating musical and historical ties between the early-modern European and African musical traditions, highlighting the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade as one of the significant influences on Western music-making.
Some of the European music with African-derived contributions researched, reconstructed, and re-envisioned by Žak and performed with his group L’Avventura London can be heard below:
BBC Radio 3: The Early Music Show: ‘Seductive, Voluptuous, Profane: 18th-century Portuguese Love Songs’, co-presenter (with Lucie Skeaping), script co-writer, and researcher.
BBC Radio 3, The Early Music Show: ‘Trade Routes: 17th-century Portuguese Villanicos and Romances’. Interview and recorded concert broadcast with L’Avventura London from the Brighton Early Music Festival, presenter Lucie Skeaping. Musical director and archlute Žak Ozmo, with Sandra Medeiros (soprano), Ana Ferro (mezzo-soprano), Bruno Almeida (tenor), Manuel Rebelo (baritone).
Hyperion Records, CDA67904: ’18th-century Portuguese Love Songs‘, L’Avventura London, director and early plucked instruments Žak Ozmo, with Sandra Medeiros (soprano) and Joana Seara (soprano)
Žak’s research into the musical legacies of the transatlantic slave trade is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.