ISM students bound for France in spring 2025

March 1, 2024

The Institute of Sacred Music has announced that France will be the destination for its biennial study trip in the spring of 2025. The international study trip has been a hallmark of the ISM experience since the days of John Cook’s directorship in the 1980s.

“I am delighted by the faculty’s decision to focus on France for our work together next academic year,” said Director Martin Jean. “We will have much to learn from the ways this region of the world has contended with notions of sacrality and secularity in its history.”

In preparation for the trip, students will hear from experts in sacred music, worship, and the related arts through the weekly colloquia—a gathering of faculty, students, and research fellows—where they will be able to dive deeply into the study of French culture. Concert programs and para-curricular activities with guest artists and scholars will help the students to further explore important and complex issues that they may encounter in France.

With a twin focus on Paris and Provence, the ISM has an opportunity to see two very different aspects of a multivalent society. Some of Christianity’s most precious sacred art has emerged from France, and yet now it considers itself a secular nation, all the while serving as home to an extremely diverse set of religious communities.

(Image to left: Roman ruins in the Luberon, Provence. Photo credit)

Jean said, “We are very privileged to have the resources to bear witness to some of this legacy firsthand.”

The primary coordinator of the study trip is Dr. Michelle Oing, an ISM postdoctoral associate for the 2024-2025 academic year. She graduated from Yale in 2020 with her Ph.D. in the history of art with a dissertation entitled “Puppet Potential: Moveable Sculpture and Religious Performance in Late Medieval Northern Europe.” With an undergraduate degree from Brown University and a master’s in theological studies from Harvard Divinity School with a focus on the history of Christianity, Dr. Oing is uniquely positioned to guide the ISM community through this complex project. She will work closely with a faculty and student planning committee and teach one course related to the study trip, as well as focusing on her own scholarship and research.

(Left: Notre Dame Cathedral under reconstruction. Photo credit)

Past ISM study trips have included Scandinavia, Italy, Germany, Spain, the Baltic states, the Balkans, Greece and Turkey, and Mexico. The pandemic forced the cancellation of a trip to Peru in 2020 and when political unrest in the region prevented a return visit in 2023, the ISM traveled instead to Mexico for a second time.

Learn more and view photos from past ISM’s international study trips.