Marica Tacconi, professor of musicology and associate director of the School of Music, joined by internationally acclaimed soprano Liesl Odenweller and harpsichordist Marija Jovanovic, will present “Musical Gems from Three Newly Uncovered Venetian Manuscripts” on Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall. The lecture-recital will focus on 17th-century music that, in some cases, has not been heard in nearly 400 years.
In addition to the musical performance, Tacconi will lead a lecture that focuses on the discovery, history and transcription of the music, which lay dormant for centuries.
While conducting research in Venice in 2018, Tacconi, a native of central Italy whose interdisciplinary research focuses on the music, art and culture of late medieval and early modern Italy, uncovered the three manuscripts at the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana of Venice while researching a separate project.
The manuscripts preserve a total of 61 solo songs and opera arias by many of the most prominent Italian composers of the time. After researching the works, Tacconi realized that several of the compositions have remained in obscurity since their creation in the 1600s.
“Any time you uncover something that hasn’t been properly studied it can be quite exciting,” Tacconi said. “Indeed, this beautiful and significant music deserves to be heard, to be ‘brought back to light.’”
On that same research trip to Venice, Tacconi attended several concerts by Odenweller and the Venice Music Project, who specialize in the performance of Baroque music. Impressed by their performances and the shared love for the same music, she introduced herself to Odenweller and the two developed a professional relationship that inspired the collaboration for a concert in Venice last June and the Nov. 12 lecture-recital.
In preparation for the lecture-recital, Tacconi saw a unique opportunity to combine her research with pedagogy. As part of her Music 462 course this semester, which focuses on music in Renaissance and early Baroque Florence, Mantua and Venice, she shared some of her findings with the 19 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled and offered the opportunity to transcribe an aria preserved in one of the manuscripts. Some students from the course, who are majoring in music, will also perform at the lecture-recital.
“The idea was to offer a hands-on experience so that students could understand how this music was written and how we can bring it back to life,” Tacconi said. “The integration of scholarship and teaching is something I care about very deeply. This discovery presented a unique opportunity for students to understand the work of a musicologist and the importance of bringing early music back to the concert stage.”
Tacconi has selected eight works for the approximately 75-minute program. Her lecture, enhanced by visual material, will provide historical context, illustrate what makes the repertoire so fascinating and significant and offer a glimpse into the process of transcribing the music from its 17th-century notation to modern notation.
The event is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by the Penn State School of Music and Committee for Early Modern Studies.