Unanimously recognized as one of the greatest interpreters of the Renaissance and Baroque vocal repertoire, Giovanni Acciai graduated in Organ, Composition and Choral Conducting and specialized in "Palaeography and musical philology" at the University of Pavia.

He is professor emeritus of Musical Palaeography at the «Giuseppe Verdi» Conservatory in Milan.

In 1982 he won the competition for the critical edition of Gioacchino Rossini's Messa di Gloria, organized by the «Rossini» Foundation of Pesaro and published by Casa Ricordi.
Former director of the vocal music magazine "La Cartellina", founded by Roberto Goitre and "L'Offerta musicale", he has to his credit numerous revisions of ancient music, musicological essays, translations, the list of which can be consulted on this site, under the heading «Publications».

For the artistic and musical merits acquired in the international arena, he was elected in 1991, "honorary member" of the American choral directors associations and in 2020 he was named "honorary member" of the International Association of Gregorian Chant Studies in Rome. Again in 2020, the National Association of Italian Artistic Violin Making of Cremona awarded him the A.N.L.A.I. 2020 «for a life dedicated to music and art».

He is artistic director of the international choral singing competitions of Grado, Lucca, Assisi, organized by Interkultur (www.interkultur.com) and Quartiano (Lodi).

He is regularly invited to hold the position of president and member of the jury of the most important national and international singing and choral composition competitions; to give speeches in musicological conferences, masterclasses and internships in choral conducting at Conservatories, Italian and foreign musical associations.

On behalf of the Nuova Era label, he oversaw the recording of the «Quarto» and «Sesto Libro de Madrigali a cinque voci» by Claudio Monteverdi, in the execution of the «Solisti del madrigale». At the helm of the Collegium Vocale et Instrumentale «Nova Ars Cantandi» he has instead made, for the Concerto label, the recording of «Vespers for the feast of Ognissanti» by Giovanni Giacomo Arrigoni; for Sarx Records, Pasquale Cafaro's «Stabat Mater», Francesco Durante's «Responsories of Holy Week» and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina's «Primo libro dei motetti a quattro voci»; for the Stradivarius label, the complete edition of «Lamentations and Responsors of Holy Week» by Lodovico Grossi da Viadana, a CD entitled «Europa concordia musicae», containing polyphonic music from the 15th and 16th centuries, commissioned by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and by the RAI, on the occasion of the Italian presidency of the European Union, the «Primo libro delle messe a quattro voci» (1561) by Giovanni Contino and the «Concerti ecclesiastici a 1, 2, 3 e 8 voci» (1604) by Giacomo Moro; for Unda Maris he recorded the «Missarum cum quinque, sex et octo vocibus, liber primus» (1575) by Pietro Vinci; for the Tactus label, the «Vespro a cappella della Beata Vergine, opera ottava» (1678), by Isabella Leonarda and the «Armonici entusiasmi di Davide», opera ninth (1690) by Giovanni Battista Bassani. This last album received in 2017, the nomination for the International Classical Music Awards - ICMA, in the «Early Music» category; for the Antiqua-Classic Voice magazine, he has made two CDs dedicated, respectively to «The music of the merchants. The evening concerts of seventeenth-century Germany» and «The music of the Jubilee. A seventeenth-century Vespers for Divine Mercy»; for the Archiv-Deutsche Grammophon, the «Arpa davidica. Salmi e Messa concertati», work XVI (1640) by Tarquinio Merula, the «Contrafacta» by Claudio Monteverdi («disc of the month» for the magazines Classic Voice and Amadeus), «Confitebor» and the «Responsoria» by Leonardo Leo («disc of the month" for the record critic magazine Musica and the 2019 "Franco Abbiati" Award from the National Association of Music Critics); for Naxos label, the «Compiete con le lettanie et antifone della Beata Vergine», for five voices, work VII (1662) and the «Harmonia di affection devoti», work III (1655) by Giovanni Legrenzi (disc of the month for the record critic magazine Musica and MusicVoice), while a CD dedicated to unpublished sacred music by Francesco Durante is being prepared for Naxos. 

In December 2004 he was appointed active member and official representative for Italy of the «Choir Olympic Council», under the aegis of UNESCO.Since November 2015 he has been part of the Réseau Européen de Musique Ancienne (REMA.), the European reference network for early music and, since May 2022, he has been director of the «Nova Ars Cantandi», of the Fédération des ensembles vocaux et instrumentaux spécialisés (FEVIS), based in Paris.In 2021, together with Ivana Valotti, he founded the early music festival «Europa Concordia Musicae» in Milan and in 2022, in Clusone (Bergamo), the international festival «Musica Mirabilis», dedicated to the rediscovery and re-evaluation of vocal and instrumental by Giovanni Legrenzi (1626-1690).

In July 2023, in Gangneung (South Korea), on the occasion of the 12° World Choir Games, for the artistic and professional merits acquired, the Interkultur Foundation, in the person of its president Günter Titsch, nominated him «honorary member» of the World Choir Council.