UMass Tasso and Music Symposium, Concert to Proceed in Video Format

UMass Amherst music and dance word mark

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tasso and Music Symposium will now take place via Zoom video conference during the April 17-19 weekend, from 9:30am-12:30pm each day. Over a dozen music historians and literary scholars from North America and Europe will present papers on the musical legacy of 16th-century Italian poet Torquato Tasso.

The symposium is inspired by the Tasso in Music Project, directed by department of music of dance professor Emiliano Ricciardi. Funded by a $260,000 Scholarly Editions and Translations Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the digital project has established the first complete critical edition of the early modern musical settings of this great poet.

Composers from the late 16th and early 17th centuries were extremely fond of Tasso’s verse and produced hundreds of musical settings, many of which have become part of the canonical early music repertoire. During the three-day symposium, the featured speakers will offer interdisciplinary insight into Tasso’s extraordinary musical legacy, tackling a variety of subjects ranging from Tasso’s own thoughts about music to composers’ interpretations of his poems.

"The goal of the Tasso in Music Project and the weekend symposium is to help to shed light on the significance of Tasso's poetry for the musical culture of his time and beyond,” said Ricciardi. “In bringing together such a notable group of scholars and performers, these events will also serve to cement UMass's role as a leading center for the study of early modern music and poetry."

On Saturday, April 18 at 2 p.m., there will also be a streamed concert of musical settings of Tasso’s poems by the ensemble Palma Choralis, which features early music performers and researchers Marcello Mazzetti and Livio Ticli. The duo will record the concert in their hometown of Brescia in northern Italy, one of the hardest-hit cities in the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the weekend events, there will be also another streamed concert of Tasso settings performed by the U.S. ensemble Les Canards Chantants as soon as shelter-in-place regulations are lifted, with the date to be determined.

When asked to reflect upon staging these events in the midst of the current crisis, Ricciardi commented, "Although there is no substitute for an in-person conference and for live concerts, we are glad that digital technology will allow the events to take place. The new format is also consistent with the inspiration behind the events, namely the Tasso in Music Project, which is itself digital. Through technology, we hope to bring Tasso’s poetry and its musical settings to as wide an audience as possible.” Ricciardi added, “By celebrating this great poetic and musical legacy, we also hope to bring a moment of relief, especially for those who live in hard-hit areas like the city of Bergamo, Italy, hometown of the Tasso family and seat of one of our sponsors, the Centro di Studi Tassiani."

Complete Information on how to view the symposium and the Palma Choralis concert, along with a full list of presenters and abstracts, is available at

The Department of Music and Dance is presenting the Tasso and Music Symposium and Concert in partnership with the UMass Italian studies program and the Arthur F. Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies. Support is also provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, UMass Amherst College of Humanities and Fine Arts and Centro di Studi Tassiani in Bergamo, Italy.