The 69th Festival is a celebration of 20th and 21st century composers with works by 34 living composers including Anna Thorvaldsdottir, Kaija Saariaho, Chinary Ung, Tan Dun, and Lei Liang, and 28 of whom are new to Ojai including Alberto Ginastera, Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, David Lang, and Pauline Oliveros
The Festival marks the occasion of Pierre Boulez’s 90th birthday with the West Coast Premiere of Beyond the Score’s® A Pierre Dream: A Portrait of Pierre Boulez, on Wednesday, June 10, and five concerts pairing the music of Boulez with works by Bartók, Messiaen, and Ravel
The program features the West Coast premieres of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams’ Sila: The Breath of the World and Become River, and the American premiere of Roland Auzet’s staging of Kurt Schwitters’ Dadaist masterpiece Ursonate
Cal Performances’ Ojai at Berkeley follows the Ojai Music Festival from June 18 to 20
“As a percussionist I spend my days searching for new sounds and new places to experience them. I often think of myself as a traveler in the land of new noises. For me, then, the Ojai Music Festival is paradise: it’s the perfect combination of provocative new sounds, great music and a magical place,” Steven Schick, Music Director
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OJAI, CA (March 24, 2015) — The 69th Ojai Music Festival (June 10-14, 2015) with Music Director Steven Schick focuses on music of the 20th and 21st centuries. With Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris, Schick has curated a highly charged festival featuring music by 49 composers, 34 who are living and more than half of whom are new to Ojai. Highlights also include the West Coast premiere of John Luther Adams’ Sila: The Breath of the World; the celebration of Pierre Boulez’s 90th birthday with a special event on Wednesday, June 10; and concerts throughout the festival devoted to Boulez’s music and musical influences.
“No one has done more to champion, interpret, and expand the repertoire of contemporary percussion music than Steven Schick. Not only has he mastered the solo percussion repertory – and more than doubled its size through commissions – but as a conductor, educator, and author he has deepened the understanding of the role of percussion in music’s past, present, and future. More importantly, as an artist of broad interests and deep convictions, he has explored cultural issues well beyond the already boundless frontiers of his chosen specialization. It has been an adventure to program the 2015 Festival with Steve,” commented Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris. He continued, “Boulez came to Ojai for the first time in 1966. He still vividly recalls cresting the lip of the Ojai Valley from the upper Ojai Valley in a convertible with legendary Artistic Director Lawrence Morton and being assaulted with the aroma of orange blossoms. It was a moment that began Pierre’s love affair with Ojai. He returned seven times as music director – more than any artist. Throughout his long career, he never strayed from his firm conviction that musical programs need to be firmly grounded in music of our time, and his own steadfast belief in that principle has resulted in his leading a true revolution in programming. He always found Ojai a willing and enthusiastic partner in this quest, which was why he returned again and again, and why we this year celebrate his 90th birthday with many of his works with the deepest thanks for the musical gifts he has given us.”
Joining Steven Schick will be longtime colleagues making their Ojai debuts, including ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), flutist Claire Chase, pipa artist Wu Man, cellist Maya Beiser, the Calder Quartet, percussionist Glenn Kotche (Wilco), and string ensemble Renga. Returning to Ojai will be pianists Gloria Cheng and Vicki Ray, mezzo-soprano Peabody Southwell, and percussion ensemble red fish blue fish.
To a percussionist’s ear, music begins with rhythm, color, and gesture – these are the elements that form the nexus of the diverse works from an international array of composers for this all 20th- and 21st-century festival. Schick will perform classics of the solo percussion repertory — compositions by Karl Stockhausen, Iannis Xenakis, and Vinko Globokar — as well as more recent works by David Lang and Kaija Saariaho. Some of the works he will tackle include Globokar’s theatrical work ?Corporel, where he performs body percussion bare-chested and barefoot, and in the same program Lei Liang’s illuminating new work entitled Trans, which incorporates river rocks and audience participation to form “sound clouds.” He will also perform the American premiere of Roland Auzet’s staging of Kurt Schwitters’ Dadaist masterpiece, Ursonate. In addition to performing, Schick will conduct ICE, red fish blue fish, and Renga – groups with which he is closely identified – in a broad array of ensemble works of varied scorings.
Five Festival concerts are devoted to Pierre Boulez’s music and musical influences, four in juxtaposition with works by Béla Bartók — all six string quartets performed by the Calder Quartet (which will be performed for the first time in Ojai)—and as the Festival finale, the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion with pianists Gloria Cheng and Vicki Ray, Schick, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s principal timpanist Joseph Pereira. Another concert will pair Boulez’s works with the music of Maurice Ravel and Olivier Messiaen.
Among the distinguished soloists joining Schick are cellist Maya Beiser playing pieces by Osvaldo Golijov, Michael Harrison, Bright Sheng, and Chinary Ung; virtuoso pipa player Wu Man performing Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Pipa; and mezzo-soprano Peabody Southwell singing Ravel’s Trois poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé. Other highlights include a sunrise performance of Morton Feldman’s hypnotic 4-1/2 hour marathon, For Philip Guston, in which Schick will be joined by flutist Claire Chase and pianist Sarah Rothenberg, and Cheng and Ray performing Messiaen’s mystical work Visions de l’amen. This year’s program will also include works by Alberto Ginastera, whose music is new to Ojai, Carlos Chavez and Edgard Varèse, as well as one late-night chestnut, Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, in the composer’s arrangement for 13 players.
Beyond the Score’s® A Pierre Dream: A Portrait of Pierre Boulez
The Ojai Music Festival will open with a special event on Wednesday, June 10 to honor Pierre Boulez on the occasion of his 90th birthday with the West Coast premiere of Beyond the Score’s® A Pierre Dream: A Portrait of Pierre Boulez, a kaleidoscope of recorded and live music, words, and imagery of Boulez. A Pierre Dream is one of Chicago Symphony’s Beyond the Score® series and features an original set design by celebrated architect Frank Gehry. The performance will be preceded by a special panel discussion with Boulez’s friends and colleagues entitled “Boulez in Ojai,” including Tom Morris and Frank Gehry as well as with pianist Ralph Grierson and composer William Kraft. Following the performance, Beyond the Score creative director Gerard McBurney will hold a Q&A session with the audience. Pierre Boulez served as music director seven times since first curating the Festival in 1967. He was most recently music director in 2003.
A Pierre Dream will be performed by ICE and mezzo-soprano Peabody Southwell, conducted by Steven Schick. Described by the Chicago Tribune as “a concert of the French master’s works [which is] an illuminating theatrical phantasmagoria about how Boulez’s intricate music is made – and even more about the aesthetic issues that have preoccupied him from his earliest compositions of the 1950s,” it will include projections of rare documentary footage of Pierre Boulez from the 1960s to the present day. At the core of the projected material will be footage from very recent 2013 interviews from his home in Baden-Baden, Germany. These interviews were specially made for this project, the development of which Boulez has supported from the beginning.
Sila: The Breath of the World
Festival collaborator and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams returns to Ojai with the West Coast premiere of Sila: The Breath of the World, to be performed at a free community event throughout Libbey Park. This new work for an ensemble of 80 musicians received its first performances last July at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival. In the Inuit tradition, sila is the spirit that animates all things – the wind, the weather, and all forces of nature. In Sila: The Breath of the World, composed specifically to be heard outdoors, musicians and listeners alike are encouraged to move about the performance space freely. The Ojai performance will include musicians from CalArts, ICE, and red fish blue fish. Adams’ music was first heard at the 2009 Festival, and again in 2012 with a performance of Inuksuit in Libbey Park. The 2013 Festival featured performances of his For Lou Harrison, Strange and Sacred Noise, and songbirdsongs.
Free Community Concerts and Late Nights
The Festival’s tradition of free community concerts continues for Festival attendees and the public. On Friday, June 12 at the Libbey Park Gazebo members of ICE will perform works from its ICElab, which places the ensemble in collaboration with emerging composers and sound artists. Rather than accept traditional commissions, the composers partner with ICE musicians in intensely collaborative incubation residencies, working together to develop new works. On Saturday, June 13 at the Ojai Valley School’s Greenberg Activity Center, cellist Maya Beiser, Wilco’s percussionist Glenn Kotche, and electric bass player Gyan Riley will shake things up with music from Beiser’s critically acclaimed album, “Uncovered,” an intersection of classical and rock music of Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, and others. On Friday and Saturday nights, the Festival’s popular Late Nights at Libbey Bowl also return, including Michael Harrison’s Just Ancient Loops, accompanied with a film by Bill Morrison, and the American premiere of Roland Auzet’s La Cathédrale de misère, a staged version of Ursonate by poet Kurt Schwitters featuring Steven Schick. Ojai will also present the West Coast premiere of John Luther Adams’ Become River, the companion piece to his Pulitzer Prize winning work Become Ocean.
Ojai Talks with host Ara Guzelimian, former Festival Artistic Director and Dean of The Juilliard School, begin on Thursday, June 11, in a conversation with John Luther Adams and Steven Schick. This discussion is followed by “The World of Percussion” with Schick. On Friday, June 12, Guzelimian will lead two sessions: the first with founder of ICE and flutist Claire Chase, and the second with virtuoso pipa player Wu Man. Her documentary film, “Discovering a Musical Heartland: Wu Man’s Return to China” will also be featured.
The Ojai Music Festival launches a series of free online sessions, OjaiU, beginning May 11. Participants will learn about the art of percussion and how it connects the world around us. Steven Schick will lead four interactive classes exploring the rhythms and sounds of the world and how they become music. Open to the public, registration begins in March at OjaiU.org or OjaiFestival.org.
Ojai at Berkeley
Marking the fifth year of artistic partnership, Ojai at Berkeley celebrates the dynamic nature of the Ojai Music Festival and of Cal Performances. As two distinct communities with similar values, Ojai and Berkeley are known for intrepid artistic discovery, spirited intellect, and enduring engagement in the arts. Inaugurated in 2011, Ojai at Berkeley follows the 2015 Ojai Music Festival, taking place from June 18 to 20 in Berkeley, CA. Ojai at Berkeley creates a joint force that enables co-commissions and co-productions and allows artists to achieve more than could be imagined by each organization separately. For more information visit CalPerformances.org.
Steven Schick, Music Director
No stranger to Ojai, percussionist, conductor, and author Steven Schick collaborated on the 2011 Festival’s production of George Crumb’s Winds of Destiny (Dawn Upshaw, music director), as well as the 2012 Festival (Leif Ove Andsnes, music director) in John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit. Mr. Schick was born in Iowa and raised in a farming family. For 35 years he has championed contemporary music by commissioning and premiering more than 150 new works. He was the founding percussionist of the Bang on a Can All-Stars (1992-2002) and served as Artistic Director of the Centre International de Percussion de Genève (2000-2005). Schick is founder and Artistic Director of the percussion group, red fish blue fish. Currently, he is Music Director of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus and Artistic Director of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. In 2012 he became the first Artist-in-Residence with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE). He also maintains a lively schedule of guest conducting including appearances with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Mr. Schick founded and is currently Artistic Director of “Roots and Rhizomes,” a summer course on contemporary percussion music held at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Among his acclaimed publications is a book, The Percussionist’s Art: Same Bed, Different Dreams, and numerous recordings of contemporary percussion music including a three CD set of the complete percussion music of Iannis Xenakis (Mode). Steven Schick is Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego.
Thomas W. Morris, Artistic Director
Thomas W. Morris was appointed Artistic Director of the Ojai Music Festival starting with the 2004 Festival and will provide artistic direction through the 75th Festival in 2021. Morris is recognized as one of the most innovative leaders in the orchestra industry and served as the long-time chief executive of both The Cleveland Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is currently active nationally and internationally as a consultant, lecturer, teacher, and writer. As Artistic Director of the 69-year-old Festival, Morris is responsible for artistic planning, and each year appoints a music director with whom he collaborates on shaping the Festival’s programming. During his decade-long tenure, audiences have increased and the scope of the Festival has expanded, most recently to include a collaborative partnership, Ojai at Berkeley, with Cal Performances at UC Berkeley.
Morris was a founding director of Spring for Music, and served as the project’s artistic director. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Curtis Institute of Music and as chair of its Board of Overseers, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He is also an accomplished percussionist.
About the Ojai Music Festival
From its founding in 1947, the Ojai Music Festival has created a place for groundbreaking musical experiences, bringing together innovative artists and curious audiences in an intimate, idyllic setting 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The Festival presents broad-ranging programs in unusual ways with an eclectic mix of rarely performed music, refreshing juxtapositions of musical styles, and music by today’s composers. The four-day festival is a complete immersive experience with concerts, free community events, symposia, film screenings, and gatherings. Considered a highlight of the summer season, Ojai has remained a leader in the classical music landscape.
The Ojai Music Festival attracts the world’s greatest musical artists. Through its unique structure of the Artistic Director appointing an annual music director, Ojai has presented a “who’s who” of music including: Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, Olivier Messiaen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Kent Nagano, Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, David Robertson, eighth blackbird, George Benjamin, Dawn Upshaw, Leif Ove Andsnes, Mark Morris, and Jeremy Denk.
Participation in the 2015 Ojai Music Festival
The Ojai Music Festival continues to draw thousands of curious and engaged music enthusiasts from across the country and has had record sell-out concerts over the last three years. As tickets remain in high demand, Ojai now includes virtual opportunities to participate in the Festival experience through live video streaming of concerts. The Festival promotes year-round participation and deeper engagement through its free online courses, OjaiU, which launched in May 2013 and remains active via archives on the Festival website. OjaiU returns on May 11 with four online sessions led by Steven Schick. To register, visit OjaiFestival.org or OjaiU.org.
2015 Ojai Music Festival single tickets are now on sale online at OjaiFestival.org or by calling (805) 646-2053. Tickets start at $40 for reserved seating, lawn tickets at $15, and $45 for Ojai Talks.
Directions to Ojai and Libbey Bowl, as well as information about lodging, concierge services for visitors and other Ojai activities, are also available on the Ojai web site. Follow Festival updates at OjaiFestival.org, Facebook (Facebook.com/ojaifestival), and Twitter (@ojaifestivals).
As of March 23, 2015. Programs and artists are subject to change.