Known for his bold, nuanced projects, Isaí Jess is an esteemed curator and collaborator of opera and multidisciplinary music theatre presentations focused on diversity and inclusive performative dialectics with an emphasis on religion and heritage. After several years of leading the National Opera Association as Vice-President for Conferences, Muñoz moves on in 2022 as President-Elect of this national organization that administrates alongside other initiatives, the The Dominick Argento and Carolyn Bailey Argento Fellowship Fund.
From 2015-2021, Dr. Muñoz served as Chair and Senior Editor of the NOA’s Sacred in Opera Initiative and Journal, that explores through research and performance, the interplay between music-drama and the ideologies of world religions. Committed to providing robust dialogue and respectful discourse that models what it means to produce music and theatre material in an increasingly diverse world, in his role as chair and senior editor, Dr. Muñoz worked on strengthening SIO’s posture on religious and spiritual diversity, highlighting operas and staged oratorios that engage with Buddhist, Bahá’í, Islamic, Judeo-Christian and other religious practices. He has collaborated and produced material for numerous composers, among them Alice Parker, Murray Boren, Marisa Michelson, Daniel Crozier, Tawnie Olsen, Gayla Morgen, Susan Bingham, Philip Seward, Bruce Trinkley, David Wolfson, Jody Nagel, William David Cooper, Gisle Kverndok, Andrew Barnes Jamieson, and Jennifer Margaret Barker.
His productions often seek to engage students into collaboration with faculty research, providing windows into wholistic practices in teaching— where the scholarship seeks to inform the pedagogy. In his capacity as curator, he’s overseen and collaborated with students and faculty throughout the nation which include: Indiana Wesleyan University, Butler University, University of Delaware, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Northwestern University, University of Delaware, Southern Utah University, Columbus State University, Gettysburg College, Central Michigan University, University of the Pacific, Stony Brook University and the Manhattan School of Music.
In 2020, Isaí was named the National Opera Association’s Vice President for Conferences. With twenty years of experience in exploring the intersection between music and theater through innovation and hybridized forms, Dr. Muñoz led NOA’s conference programs through the Covid-19 Pandemic, pushing the boundaries of music-drama in a virtual setting.
In Fall 2018, Dr. Muñoz accepted the invitation to serve as Artistic and Executive Director of the International Baroque Academy at Musiktheater Bavaria (MTB) in Germany, which takes pride in seeing so many of its former students now working throughout America and Europe in opera houses, regional theaters, concert performances and national tours. Many alums are also now passing on the gift of learning as educators at institutions across the world. In recent years, MTB singers and pianists have gone on to win important competitions and secure positions in prestigious young artist programs, including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the Jensen Foundation Competition, the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, and the Merola Opera Program. MTB is honored to be a formative part of their students’ journey, providing invaluable tools and insights to help them achieve success in a highly competitive field.
Isaí Jess Muñoz is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts Career Grant for contributions to the dissemination of Iberian and Latin American art song. For his ongoing creative activities in interdisciplinary performances, he has been recognized by the National Opera Association, National Association of Teachers of Singing, American Prize, Delaware Division of the Arts, and others.
With studies in Non-Profit Management from the University of Delaware Joseph R. Biden School of Public Policy and Administration, beyond his years of ongoing work with non-profit performing arts organizations as performer and educator, Dr. Muñoz has served as board member of The Greater Philadelphia NATS Chapter, Musiktheater Bavaria Inc., and the National Opera Association.
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