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Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Linda Cajigas
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Thursday, April 8, 2010

Jacobs School of Music partners with Bloomington Early Music Festival to present a conference on Isaac

April 8, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music will welcome international and national scholars for a conference and a series of concert performances that focus on the Renaissance Flemish composer Heinrich Isaac and his times.

The weekend-long conference, titled Heinrich Isaac and his World, takes place in May and will include two public concerts and a public lecture. The conference is co-produced by the Musicology Department, Early Music Institute and the Bloomington Early Music Festival.

During the conference, a showing of a rare manuscript will be offered at the Lilly Library, one of two libraries outside Europe to own Renaissance manuscripts containing Isaac's music.

Concerts will be performed by the award-winning vocal ensemble Liber (formerly Liber unusualis) and the vocal-instrumental group ˇSacabuche!, which is made up of former and current students from the Jacobs School. In addition, vocal ensemble Vox Reflexa, composed of Jacobs students, will provide live musical examples during the conference presentations, affording an opportunity to the singers to work closely with some of the greatest experts in the field of Renaissance music.

Giovanni Zanovello, assistant professor in the Department of Musicology and the main organizer of the conference, said he is energized by the response from international presenters. "An impressive array of top scholars in the field are participating, despite the difficult times, which confirms how fascinating the topic is," he said. "The scholarship on Isaac is very dynamic, thanks to the recent discovery of unknown music and documents. The conference and performances in Bloomington will hopefully help further our knowledge of this composer. Much more remains to be done in terms of scholarship, and most of Isaac's works have seldom been performed in modern times and have rarely been recorded."

"We are delighted to host the first significant conference fully devoted to Heinrich Isaac, one of the most celebrated musicians and composers of the Renaissance," said Peter Burkholder, chair of the Musicology Department. "Isaac richly deserves our attention, as his music deserves more performance and study."

Public events presented by the Bloomington Early Music Festival

Friday, May 21: Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, 2120 North Fee Lane.

  • 6 p.m. Public lecture by Professor Giovanni Zanovello
  • 7 p.m. Concert: ˇSacabuche!
  • After-concert reception sponsored by the Bloomington Early Music Festival

Saturday, May 22, 2010: Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington, 2120 North Fee Lane.

  • 6 PM Concert: Liber

Tickets ($15 general/$10 students) for the concerts are available in advance from the Sunrise Box Office at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Tickets will also be available at the events.

About Heinrich Isaac

Heinrich Isaac (c. 1450-1517) is a fairly unfamiliar name even for music lovers today, but in his own time the Flemish singers and composer was considered one of the top living musicians, together with Josquin Des Pres and Jacob Obrecht. Gentleman and music aficionado Paolo Cortesi famously wrote, " . . . Heinrich Isaac of France is judged to be most apt to compose such precentorial songs [motets]; for, in addition to being much quicker than all the others in pouring forth this genre, his style of composition brightens the singing so floridly that it more than satiates the ordinary capacity of the ear."

At the same time, Isaac was different from his most important colleagues because he was not ordained -- he married a Florentine woman during his first 10-year stay there -- and because of the extreme variety of his compositional style. Because of his superior Flemish musical education, regarded very highly in his days, he wrote Masses, Motets, and chansons. As a curious musician, during his stays in Italy and Central Europe he became adept at local traditions, to the extent that he was later credited for renewing such local genres as the Florentine carnival song or the German Tenorlied.

For information about the conference, visit:

For information about the Bloomington Early Music Festival, visit: