The annual Imagine concert in February was all about sharing music with students by students. Both the Matilija Junior High School and Nordhoff High School music students performed to a crowd of close to 500 local Ojai and Ventura-area elementary students.
This year a special highlight was a guest appearance by GRAMMY Latin Jazz winner Nestor Torres, who performed for the students and a surprise improvisatoin session along side the student musicians.
Photos courtesy of Kirby Russell.
“We got to experience the excitement of improvising real jazz on the spot with an amazing player, as well as learn to listen to each other and share the spotlight to create music of our own. It also taught us to push our bodies in what we thought we were capable of doing and showed us that, just like anything else, music can be a form of communication that gives us a voice to speak our own message.”– Noah Byle, 12th grade, Nordhoff High School
“The Imagine concert is a wonderful part of the musical culture of Ojai! The middle school performers remember attending the concert as elementary school students. They tell me with a great deal of enthusiasm about the performances they watched, and they are proud to now be part of the show. In turn, their collaboration with the high school students give them a taste of the next level of musicianship. To top it all off, the guest performers never cease to expand our idea of what is possible.” — Thomas Fredrickson, Matilija Junior High School Music Director
Vijay Iyer is joined by a community of artistic collaborators, including returning Ojai family members 2015 Music Director Steven Schick, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Carnatic vocalist Aruna Sairam, flutist Claire Chase, and composer/percussionist Tyshawn Sorey
Iyer introduces Ojai to master musicians from various backgrounds and communities: Brentano Quartet; violinist Jennifer Koh; vocalist/composer Jen Shyu; Vijay Iyer Trio; Vijay Iyer Sextet; Tyshawn Sorey Double Trio; tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain; saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa; trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith; and The Trio featuring Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, and Roscoe Mitchell
Highlights of the 2017 Festival include the world premiere of Vijay Iyer’s Violin Concerto, written for and performed by Jennifer Koh; the American premiere of Iyer’s Emergence for trio and ensemble; RADHE RADHE: Rites of Holi with music by Iyer and film by Prashant Bhargava; the West Coast premiere of the opera Afterword by George Lewis; and Yet Unheard (world premiere of chamber version) by Courtney Bryan
Cal Performances’ Ojai at Berkeley is slated for June 15-17, 2017 following the Ojai Music Festival
(November 16, 2016– Ojai, California) – The Ojai Music Festival, June 8-11, 2017, with Music Director Vijay Iyer celebrates diverse communities of music, artists, and collaborations in a weekend of stimulation and reflection.
Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris stated, “Vijay Iyer is usually described as a composer, a pianist, an improviser, a collaborator, and a teacher. What really distinguishes him, however, is not just what he does but who he is and what he stands for. Vijay believes a life in the arts is a life of service in imagining, building, and enacting community that transcends heritage, nation, and creed. The 2017 Festival reflects these beliefs in the range of collaborators joining us – from Carnatic vocalist Aruna Sairam to percussionist/composer Tyshawn Sorey, to the virtuosic ensemble ICE, to trumpet legend Wadada Leo Smith; in the breadth of roles Vijay will play – from composer, to performer, to collaborator, to intellectual guide; and in the historical and social perspectives represented by the music and artists – from how so much of the Festival’s foundation is based on the groundbreaking Association for the Advancement of Creative Music (AACM), to young composer Courtney Bryan’s powerful tribute to Sandra Bland, a vivid testimony to music’s ability to bring communities together in healing.”
Vijay Iyer commented, “When I was invited to take on the role of Music Director for the 2017 Ojai Music Festival, it was a shocking but validating proposition. As an artist, I like to insert myself into situations where some might not necessarily imagine I belong. I have many different affinities musically, and also very real associations across different musical communities, generations, geographic locations, and traditions that speak to me and through me. Our 2017 Festival feels like a good opportunity to update the idea of what music is today. I know the hallowed history of this Festival and I’ve seen different versions of what it can be. I’m just glad that Tom Morris invited me to intervene, and to bring my people with me. I’m going to learn so much over those few days in June, and I believe everyone there will discover a great deal – not just about music, but about themselves.”
Much of the four-day Festival programming revolves around the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), an organization founded in Chicago in 1965 by a group of African-American experimentalists. Musicians of the AACM were not only committed to an adventurous synthesis of music making strategies – contemporary and ancient, familiar and faraway – but their very being was framed out of the Civil Rights struggles of that era. The New York Times, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the AACM a year ago said, “The AACM has been one of the country’s great engines of experimental art, producing work with an irreducible breadth of scope and style.” Some of the original founding AACM members, including Wadada Leo Smith, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Roscoe Mitchell will be featured 2017 Ojai artists, as will composer/trombonist George Lewis, whose book A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music tells the definitive history of the AACM. Lewis’ opera Afterword, which is receiving its West Coast premiere, is based on the history of the organization.
The 2017 Festival begins on Thursday, June 8 showcasing the talents of Vijay Iyer. The program features two recent works by Mr. Iyer, the American premiere of Emergence, performed by ICE and the Vijay Iyer Trio conducted by Steven Schick; and the world premiere of his Violin Concerto, a co-commission by the Ojai Music Festival, Cal Performances in Berkeley, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Violin Concerto was composed for and will be performed by violinist Jennifer Koh. The evening closes with a duo comprising Mr. Iyer and the celebrated trumpet player and a founder of the AACM, Wadada Leo Smith. Described by Mr. Iyer as his “hero, friend, and teacher,” Mr. Smith collaborates with the pianist on music that is “spellbinding and traverses musical identities.”
The two-part Friday afternoon concert on June 9 features flutist Claire Chase performing a selection from her recent Density 2036 project, a 22-year program conceived by Ms. Chase in 2014 to commission an entirely new body of repertory for solo flute each year until the 100th anniversary of Edgard Varèse groundbreaking 1936 flute solo. Following Density 2036 will be a rare performance by Tyshawn Sorey’s Double Trio in a program called “The Inner Spectrum of Variables.” Mr. Sorey made his Ojai debut last year composing music for and performing in the Josephine Baker Portrait.
Friday evening’s concert features the West Coast premiere of George Lewis’ opera Afterword, for a small ensemble and three singers, performed by ICE with soprano Joelle Lamarre, contralto Gwendolyn Brown, and tenor JuIian Otis, all of whom sang in the 2016 American premiere of the work in Chicago, and with Steven Schick conducting. A 2002 MacArthur Fellow, George Lewis is a composer, theorist, musicologist, and virtuoso trombonist with an endowed chair at Columbia University. His A Will to Adorn was performed during the 2015 Ojai Music Festival. Mr. Lewis is the author of A Power Stronger than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music, a prizewinning, comprehensive cultural history of this influential organization and its members. The opera Afterword draws from the book’s own afterword, consisting of transcribed dialogues and testimonials about the AACM’s founding in 1965. Afterword will be semi-staged and directed by Sean Griffin.
Saturday afternoon’s two-part concert on June 10 begins with a program by the Brentano Quartet. In addition to performing the entire two-century range of standard quartet repertoire, the Brentano Quartet has a strong interest in both old and new music. The concert features music by György Kurtág and Mozart, as well as Vijay Iyer’s Mozart Effects, written for the quartet. Following this will be Conduction® led by Tyshawn Sorey, who is widely considered to be among the most important young artists at the intersection between composed and improvised music. Conduction®, is a gestural language invented by the acclaimed cornetist and composer Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris. As defined by the composer, “Conduction® is the practice of conveying and interpreting a lexicon of directives to construct or modify sonic arrangement or composition; a structure-content exchange between composer/conductor and instrumentalists that provides the immediate possibility of initiating or altering harmony, melody, rhythm, tempo, progression, articulation, phrasing, or form through the manipulation of pitch, dynamics (volume/intensity/density), timbre, duration, silence, and organization in real-time. Conduction® is a 60-minute piece of new music for an ensemble of 20 players being composed in real time – none of the performers nor conductor have a note of music in front of them.”
The Saturday evening centerpiece is RADHE RADHE: Rites of Holi, commissioned five years ago by Carolina Performing Arts at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to celebrate the centennial of Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps. RADHE RADHE: Rites of Holi is a vivid and mesmerizing multimedia collaboration by Mr. Iyer and filmmaker Prashant Bhargava (who passed away in 2015 at the age of 42), exploring another sort of rite of spring, the Hindu festival of Holi, famous for its revelry of color in celebration of the love between the divine Krishna and Radha. In northern India, Mr. Bhargava filmed ravishing hi-definition images of an eight-day Holi festival, later editing the footage into a finished 37-minute film with Stravinsky’s Sacre musical structure as the basis for its film structure. Mr. Iyer composed a new score as the musical complement to Mr. Bhargava’s visual ballet, drawing at times on the rhythms and chants of the Holi festival. The result is one of Mr. Iyer’s warmest, most colorful creations to date, as rich melodically as it is texturally. The work is for an ensemble of 13 players that will be performed by ICE and conducted by Steven Schick, who will accompany the projected film live on the Libbey Bowl stage. The first half of the concert will be the West Coast premiere of a new version of Le Sacre du printemps arranged by composer Cliff Colnot for the same instrumental forces.
The final day of the Festival on Sunday, June 11 is a mini-festival of improvisation. It begins in the early morning with a free concert of living legends that will be one of the historical highlights at Ojai – The Trio featuring octogenarian pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis on trombone and laptop, and Roscoe Mitchell on assorted woodwinds. Mr. Abrams and Mr. Mitchell were among the founders of the AACM. The afternoon concert presents Vijay Iyer and his close collaborator for more than twenty years, the award-winning saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, joining forces with two living giants of Indian classical music: celebrated Carnatic vocalist Aruna Sairam and tabla maestro and world music pioneer Zakir Hussain. This day realizes one of Vijay Iyer’s dreams for the 2017 Festival, to create a new musical fabric with these remarkable artists together in Ojai. The Festival closes with Vijay Iyer and his all-star sextet including bassist Stephan Crump, Tyshawn Sorey on drums, alto saxophonist Steve Lehman, Graham Haynes on cornet and flugelhorn, and tenor saxophonist Mark Shim, an ensemble The New York Times has said, “addresses original music with a gripping sense of purpose.”
In addition to the main concert lineup there will be two Daybreak concerts both starting at 9am at Zalk Theatre at Besant Hill School in the upper Ojai for Ojai Music Festival members. On Friday, June 9 the performance features Jen Shyu, experimental vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, and Fulbright scholar, who will perform her own work, Solo Rites: Seven Breaths. Saturday, June 10 features Nicole Mitchell, flutist, composer, bandleader, and educator. Ms. Mitchell’s music celebrates African American culture while reaching across genres and integrating new ideas with moments in the legacy of jazz, gospel, experimentalism, pop, and African percussion. She formerly served as the first woman president of Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM).
Free Community Concerts
Ojai continues to build on its commitment to reach an ever-broader audience, and the 2017 Festival offers two free Late Night concerts in the Libbey Bowl, in addition to the Sunday morning concert. Friday evening at 10:30pm features a recital by Jennifer Koh, entitled “Bach and Beyond” in which Ms. Koh will perform works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Missy Mazzoli, Luciano Berio, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. Saturday night at 10:30pm brings Vijay Iyer together with the Brentano Quartet to perform his Time, Place, Action. The Brentano Quartet opens the concert with selections from Bach’s Art of the Fugue, and the concert closes with the American premiere of a new version of Yet Unheard by the versatile composer and pianist Courtney Bryan. Written for chorus, orchestra, and the vocalist Helga Davis, Yet Unheard sets a new text by poet Sharan Strange memorializing Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African American woman who died in police custody in Waller County, Texas, on July 13, 2015. Her death was classified as a suicide, though protests dispute the cause of death and allege racial violence. Focusing on bridging the sacred and the secular, Ms. Bryan’s recent compositions explore human emotions through sound, confronting the challenge of notating the feeling of improvisation.
The 2017 Festival begins with Ojai Talks hosted by Ara Guzelimian, former Festival Artistic Director and current Dean and Provost of The Juilliard School. On Thursday June 8 the first part session topic is “The Art of Improvisation” with Vijay Iyer. The second part of the Talks features a panel to discuss “Music as Community” with Mr. Iyer and other prominent guests. On Friday evening, June 9 the Ojai Talks will be held prior to the 8pm concert of George Lewis’ Afterword on the Libbey Bowl stage. The session will feature a discussion on the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) with special guests. Additional details will be announced at a later date.
Ojai at Berkeley
Marking the seventh year of artistic partnership, Ojai at Berkeley celebrates the dynamic nature of the Ojai Music Festival and of Cal Performances. As two distinct communities, Ojai and Berkeley are both known for intrepid artistic discovery, spirited intellect, and enduring engagement in the arts. Inaugurated in 2011, Ojai at Berkeley is a joint force that enables co-commissions and co-productions and allows artists to achieve more than could be imagined by each organization separately. Ojai at Berkeley follows the 2017 Ojai Music Festival and will take place from June 15-17 in Berkeley, CA. For more information visit CalPerformances.org.
Vijay Iyer, Music Director
Composer-pianist Vijay Iyer is the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts at Harvard University. He was named Downbeat Magazine’s Jazz Artist of the Year for 2012, 2015, and 2016, and he received a 2016 US Artists Fellowship, 2013 MacArthur Fellowship, a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, and a 2011 Grammy nomination. He has released twenty-one albums, including A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke (ECM, 2016) in duo with legendary composer-trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, named “Best New Music” by Pitchfork; Break Stuff (ECM, 2015) with the Vijay Iyer Trio, winner of the German Record Critics’ Award for Album of the Year; the live score to the film RADHE RADHE: Rites of Holi (ECM, 2014) by filmmaker Prashant Bhargava; and Holding it Down: The Veterans’ Dreams Project (Pi Recordings, 2013), his third politically searing collaboration with poet-performer Mike Ladd, named Album of the Year in the Los Angeles Times.
Mr. Iyer’s compositions have been commissioned and premiered by Bang on a Can All-Stars, The Silk Road Ensemble, Ethel, Brentano Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Imani Winds, American Composers Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum, Matt Haimowitz, and Jennifer Koh. Mr. Iyer serves as Director of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music.
Thomas W. Morris, Artistic Director
Thomas W. Morris was appointed Artistic Director of the Ojai Music Festival starting with the 2004 Festival. 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, 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 at New York’s Carnegie Hall and served as the project’s artistic director. He currently serves as 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 works by today’s composers. The four-day festival is an immersive experience with concerts, free community events, symposia, and gatherings. Considered a highlight of the international music summer season, Ojai has remained a leader in the classical music landscape for seven decades.
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, Jeremy Denk, Steven Schick, and Peter Sellars.
The Festival, which enters its 71st year in 2017, is a nonprofit organization based in Ojai, California. The Board Chairman is David Nygren and President is Jamie Bennett.
Remote Access to the Ojai Music Festival
The Ojai Music Festival continues to draw thousands of curious and engaged music enthusiasts from across the country. As tickets remain in high demand, Ojai includes free access to the Festival experience through live and archived video streaming at OjaiFestival.org. Festival concert archives can also be heard on media partner Q2 Music’s website at WQXR.org.
Series Passes for 2017 Ojai Music Festival
2017 Festival series passes are available and may be purchased online at OjaiFestival.org or by calling (805) 646-2053. 2017 Ojai Music Festival series passes range from $140 to $860 for reserved seating and lawn series passes start at $60. Single concert tickets will be available in spring 2017.
Directions to Ojai and Libbey Bowl, as well as information about lodging, concierge services for visitors, and other Ojai activities, are available on the Festival website. Follow Festival updates at OjaiFestival.org, Facebook (Facebook.com/ojaifestival), and Twitter (@ojaifestivals).
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Application deadline: March 1, 2017
Download application form
(Ojai, CA) — Applications are now being accepted to participate in the Ojai Music Festival’s arts management internship program coinciding with the 71st Ojai Music Festival slated for June 8-11, 2017 with Music Director Vijay Iyer. Entering its tenth year, the Festival’s three-week program provides hands-on experiences to college students.
Ojai’s arts management internship program offers select students direct experience as they are immersed in areas of administration, operations, special events, merchandising, production, marketing, public relations, and patron services.
Students from varying fields and walks of life enjoy access to different opportunities which give them new skill sets and experiences that they take with them throughout their careers. The internship program also provides them to interact with leaders in the music industry and create lasting friendships with other students.
Applicants must be 18 or over and enrolled in a two or four year accredited college. The Festival provides housing for the duration of the internship as well as a stipend. Applications are due by March 1, 2017.
The 71st Ojai Music Festival, June 8-11, 2017, will celebrate diverse communities of music, artists, and collaborations in a weekend of stimulation and reflection curated by this year’s Music Director Vijay Iyer. A genre-transcending composer, pianist, improviser, and musical thinker, Iyer’s programming vision will make connections across genres to help audiences discover how composers, performers, and improvisers make music together.
Joining him will be a community of artistic collaborators, including returning Ojai family members 2015 Music Director Steven Schick, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Carnatic vocalist Aruna Sairam, flutist Claire Chase, and composer/percussionist Tyshawn Sorey. Master musicians from various backgrounds making their Ojai debuts include Brentano Quartet; violinist Jennifer Koh; Vijay Iyer Trio; Vijay Iyer Sextet; tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain; saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa; trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith; and The Trio featuring Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, and Roscoe Mitchell.
The 2017 Festival will also feature the world premiere of Vijay Iyer’s Violin Concerto, the American premiere of Iyer’s Emergence; Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi with music by Iyer and film by Prashant Bhargava; the West Coast premiere of the opera Afterword by George Lewis; and Yet Unheard (world premiere of chamber version) by Courtney Bryan.
For more information regarding the internship program for the Ojai Music Festival, please call the main office at 805 646 2094 or email email@example.com. For more information on the 70th Ojai Music Festival, visit OjaiFestival.org.
Graham Haynes is an American cornetist, trumpeter and composer. The son of jazz drummer Roy Haynes, Graham is known for his work in nu jazz, fusing jazz with elements of hip hop and electronic music.
With aspirations to push jazz beyond its traditional boundaries, Graham Haynes’ first foray into electronic music came in 1979 upon meeting alto saxophonist Steve Coleman. Together, they formed a band called Five Elements, which launched an influential group of improvisers called M-Base Collective. After the formation of his own ensemble – Graham Haynes and No Image – and the subsequent release of an album (What Time It Be?), Haynes would spend the balance of the 1980s studying a wide range of African, Arabic and South Asian Music. After a move to France in 1990, Haynes incorporated these far-off influences into his next two releases – Nocturne Parisian and Griot’s Footsteps. Read More
Internationally renowned musician, composer, and innovator, began his distinguished career in the spirited 1960s of Chicago, Illinois. His role in the resurrection of long neglected woodwind instruments of extreme register, his innovation as a solo woodwind performer, his and his reassertion of the composer into what has traditionally been an improvisational form have placed him at the forefront of contemporary music for over four decades. A leader in the field of avant-garde jazz and contemporary music, Mr. Mitchell is a founding member of the world renowned Art Ensemble of Chicago, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, and the Trio Space.
Muhal Richard Abrams has been in the forefront of the contemporary music scene for well over forty years. Muhal is a co-founder of The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), founder of The AACM School of Music and President of The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, New York City Chapter. Muhal was the first recipient of the grand international jazz award, “The Jazzpar Prize”, which was awarded to him in 1990 by the Danish Jazz Center in Copenhagen, Denmark.. In 1999 Muhal was presented a proclamation by Richard M. Daley, Mayor of the City of Chicago, declaring April 11, 1999 as Muhal Richard Abrams Day in Chicago.
Except for a brief period of study at Chicago Musical College and Governors State University in Chicago, Illinois where he studied electronic music, Mr. Abrams is predominately a self-taught musician who, as a result of many years of observation, analysis, and practice as a performing musician, has developed a highly respected command of a variety of musical styles both as a pianist and composer. The versatile Mr. Abrams and members of The AACM are responsible for some of the most original new music approaches of the last three decades.
Here are several reminders to make your tour experience more enjoyable!
- Your ticket is valid for either or both days (November 12-13) to visit each house once. Hours are 10am-4pm.
- Shuttle transportation will be provided to all homes. Shuttles will depart from Ojai Valley School (723 El Paseo Rd.) and San Antonio Elementary School (650 Carne Rd.) approximately every 20 minutes. Your ticket will have the locations of the shuttle stops. Last shuttle is 3:30pm.
- Homes may be visited in any order. Please keep in mind that the last shuttle will depart at 3:30pm and if you begin the tour in the late afternoon you may not be able to visit all the homes.
- The homes are not wheelchair accessible. If you have special needs, please contact Sherry at the Ojai Music Festival office for further information: 805-646-2094.
- Flat shoes are required and closed-toe shoes recommended. If you wear high-heeled shoes, you will be asked to remove your shoes. Booties will be distributed at the homes.
- Public restrooms will be available at the Holiday Marketplace at 703 El Paseo Rd.
- Children under the age of 12 will not be admitted into the homes.
- Docents will help guide the tour and answer any questions about the homes.
- There will be entertainment at various homes provided by students and Ojai musicians.
- Tickets will be sold during the weekend of the event at the Holiday Marketplace, located at 703 El Paseo Road and at the homes. Tickets will be $45 the day of the event.
- Please join us at the Holiday Marketplace, rain or shine! Admission is free and open to the public. Hours are Saturday 10am-5:30pm and Sunday 10:00am-4:30pm.
- There are no refunds on tickets. But if you turn your tickets back, we will issue a receipt to you for a tax-deductible donation in the amount of the value of your tickets.
- In case of heavy rain, the event will be canceled. Your ticket will be considered a donation to the Ojai Music Festival.
Born from Taiwanese and East Timorese immigrant parents, 2016 Doris Duke Artist Jen Shyu (Chinese name: 徐秋雁) is an experimental jazz vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, producer, and Fulbright scholar. Known mostly for her virtuosic singing with saxophonist and 2014 MacArthur Genius Fellow Steve Coleman since 2003 and having collaborated with innovators Anthony Braxton, Bobby Previte, Chris Potter, Michael Formanek, and David Binney to name a few, she has performed her own music around the world in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Rubin Museum of Art, Ringling International Arts Festival, Asia Society, Roulette, Blue Note, Bimhuis, Salihara Theater, National Gugak Center, and National Theater of Korea and festivals around the world.
An essential part of the annual Ojai Holiday Home Tour is the festive inspirations created by the select floral designers who work with each homeowner. Meet the 2017 designers:
Irma Murillo, owner
Home: Carroll House
Since 2010, Irma Murillo has been the proud owner of Angela’s Flowers although she had been working at the shop when she was just a sophomore attending Nordhoff High School. At that time, she learned from the original owner Joanne Moore. Irma has made Angela’s Flowers a continued success, nominated Best Florist in Ojai for several years in a row. She is a proud resident of the valley with her husband Juan Murillo, her children Carlos, Natali and Gabriel as well as her “adopted children,” her chinchilla Chinch and her cat Lulu.
Address: 226 W Ojai Ave #102
Phone: (805) 646-5404
Lynn Malone, owner
Home: El Toro
With over 20 years managing fundraising events for various Ojai nonprofits including the Ojai Music Festival, Lynn Malone, owner and lead designer at Digs, has made an art of creating exquisite event designs on a budget, a befitting skill to help benefit the annual Holiday Home Look In fundraiser.
For the past three years, Digs has strived to bring joyous Holiday designs to showcased homes on the tour much to the delight of guests who were excited and inspired by creative décor for the holidays. This year, Lynn and her team look forward to embellishing a historic Spanish revival home steeped in rich memories of bygone eras.
The Digs team is excited to work with the homeowners of the El Toro house to create holiday designs honoring the home’s historic significance, as well as the many fond memories of Christmases past as shared by the homeowner and the design team. Don’t be surprised to see a few that you grew up with too. Departing from traditional reds and greens, however, this year’s designs will incorporate winter whites, and the bountiful fruits and greens of the season and of the property itself. You’ll see many of the lush landscape elements found on the property incorporated into the Holiday floral designs.
As has come to be expected of Team Digs, you’ll also be treated to a bit of whimsy and some modern holiday touches too, including, of course, “Grace,” our signature holiday mannequin who, once again, will be dressed in her finest Holiday greenery for the season. As always, Digs hopes to inspire excitement to decorate your home for the upcoming holidays. However, if time runs short for DIY decorating or gifting, we are always happy to help. Some of the creations you’ll see on the tour will be available at Digs throughout the holiday season.
Address: On the corner of Baldwin Road and Highway 33
Phone: (805) 646-3447
Janelle Interiors Design Showroom
Janelle Kandziora, owner
Home: Ladera Ranch Home
Janelle is the owner and lead designer at Janelle Interiors Design Showroom in Ojai. She specializes in construction design, color consulting, custom furniture, lighting and much more. Janelle has a successful design career furnishing homes all over the greater Los Angeles area, Santa Barbara, and Palm Springs Desert communities.
Her career began with 550 Design of Minneapolis where she trained under a senior staff of highly experienced designers. Specializing in residential and hospitality design, her experience quickly brought her to Palm Desert, California in early 2004. Her desert career began with Ambiance Unlimited where she refined her residential design skills and completed the model homes for PGA West’s Greg Norman Estates Country Club. With an interest in construction design she then joined the luxurious Andalusia Country Club design team and assisted owners in the creation of their dream homes. In 2009 she then opened Janelle Interiors as an independent design corporation and has since designed homes in some of the desert’s premier clubs.
Relocating to Ojai in 2012 she opened up her design showroom where clients can view the extensive home furnishing resources. Janelle’s design approach is, “Simple but Elegant,” with attention to the planning of space and style. She prides herself in creating a look and feel that coincides with her clients dream or vision in any project.
Michelle Rein, owner
Home: Libbey House
Founder and entrepreneur of Passion Flowers Ventura Michelle Rein has been passionate about flowers her whole life. In business for over 35 years, Michelle still loves creating with the gift of nature and all its colors and elements. Her shop is open daily and one of the great enjoyments is her customers. Besides the daily routine of the floral shop, Michelle loves working with clients for special events, celebrations, and tributes. Every piece is created heartfelt.
Address: 920 E Main St., Ventura
Prepare for June by listening to upcoming Festival artists using our Spotify playlists.
Helping get guests into the festive mood at the Ojai Holiday Home Tour will be performances by Ojai’s talented artists and ensembles, who have generously donated their time during the annual fundraising event. Enjoy music from a mix of performers during the weekend of November 12-13 at all the four homes throughout the day.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
10AM Fern Barishman. keyboard and vocal
12PM Cindy Kalmenson, guitar and vocal
2PM Ray Powers, keyboard
10AM Judy Vander, piano
12PM Smitty and Julija, keyboard and vocal
2PM David Gorospe, keyboard
Ladera Ranch Home
10AM Ray Sullivan, guitar
12PM Licity Collins, guitar and vocal
2PM David Cosby, guitar
10AM Bonnie Griffin, flute
12PM Laura Walter, flute
2PM Oak View All Stars, fiddle players
Sunday, November 13, 2016
10AM Ray Powers, keyboard
12PM Fern Barishman, piano and vocal
2PM Cindy Kalmenson, guitar and vocal
10AM Jeong-ah Ryu, piano
11:30AM Smitty and Julija, piano and vocal
1PM Celtic Nut with Byle Family
3PM David Gorospe, piano and vocal
Ladera Ranch House
10AM Ray Sullivan, guitar
12PM David Cosby, guitar
2PM Audrey McPherson and Dori Riggs, flute duet
10AM Janet Bergamo, cello
12PM Laura Walter, flute
2-4PM Madrigali, Ojai’s own Madrigal Ensemble
**Schedule and artists subject to change **
Back in 1992 Vijay Iyer, studying physics at UC Berkeley and living in Oakland, crossed the street to check out the music in a neighborhood club. Before long the young graduate student and largely self-taught jazz pianist was sitting in with a cohort of local elder statesmen, three and four times his age. Music had already begun to dominate Vijay’s interests, but those evenings in the Bird Kage club taught him something more: his creative juices began to flow when curiosity overcame diffidence, and wariness gave way to mutual trust. Ever since, he has been crossing streets and sitting in, finding his place in a succession of vibrant musical communities.
Vijay Iyer likes thinking about communities – where you find them, how they are formed, what cultural expressions they create. And what they create is very much a question of how they listen. The communities Iyer has found create music through improvisation – listening, thinking, weighing options, making decisions, finding ways to open new doors, or, as he likes to put it, “responding to crisis.” So from jamming with friends and strangers, seeking out mentors, and studying the masters he has developed his own distinctive musical personality combining expressive warmth with dazzling inventiveness. In the meantime, his academic interests turned toward the cognitive science of music: questions about how we listen, how we make music, and how we interpret what we hear. For Iyer, a MacArthur Fellow and Harvard professor, music is both emotional and intellectual, visceral and analytical, an activity whose structure and syntax are deeply imbedded in our shared humanity and cultural experience.
For all his celebrity, he is remarkably self-effacing and in conversation devotes a good deal of time speaking about others – celebrated idols, cherished teachers, treasured colleagues, admired contemporaries to whom he feels indebted. It is therefore no surprise that his selection of artists for this year’s festival is both multi-generational and deeply personal: “people who are dear to me – each has changed my life.” People like the cellist Okkyung Lee and choreographer Michelle Boulé (“visceral, awe-inspiring”), Steven Schick (“a transformative influence”), or Roscoe Mitchell (“completely changed my idea of what music can be”) – musicians who have inspired, challenged, and even confounded him.
Today Vijay inhabits a post-genre world, and Ojai 2017 will no doubt challenge and confound our notions of music. The familiar – Bach’s Art of the Fugue, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (in a new arrangement for 12 players) – are juxtaposed with his Time, Place, Action for quartet and piano, Emergence for piano trio and orchestra, and his score to Prashant Bhargava’s Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi, a cinematic refraction of the Indian festival of Holi, created for the centennial of Stravinsky’s iconic Rite. We’ll also hear a newly commissioned violin concerto for Jennifer Koh, and performances by some of the foremost improvisers of today, including three legends: Wadada Leo Smith, Roscoe Mitchell, both in their 70s, and pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, now 86 – living exemplars of generational transmission, a reminder of the “real education” Iyer received when he sought out musicians “older, better, wiser than me.”
Smith, Mitchell, and Abrams, emerging from the African American musical movements of the 1950s and 60s – its patron saints included the likes of Coltrane, Mingus, Ornette Coleman, and Thelonious Monk – have in turn shaped the scene of the last fifty years, not least through their activities with the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), which they co-founded in 1965 in Chicago. We’ll hear Afterword, an opera about the group’s origins by the composer George Lewis, whose research and creative work (we heard The Will to Adorn in 2015) often explore the relationships among music, community, and the self. We’ll also hear a Lewis protégée, the young composer Courtney Bryan, whose work Yet Unheard for soprano, orchestra, and choir, with libretto by poet Sharan Strange, explores the current moment; the piece conjures the soul and spirit of Sandra Bland, whose unexplained death in police custody in Texas has become one of many tragedies motivating the Black Lives Matter movement.
Vijay self-identifies as a composer, but he also places a lot of faith in real-time music-making. In Ojai he’ll play duets with the aforementioned trumpeter-composer Wadada Leo Smith, and he will also make music with two of today’s foremost Indian classical performers: Carnatic vocalist Aruna Sairam (who mesmerized in her 2015 Ojai debut) and pioneering tabla legend Zakir Hussain. The thrill of the musical moment is also why Iyer is so excited by Tyshawn Sorey (“one of the greatest living musicians – period”), whose Perle Noire: A Portrait of Josephine Baker was a highlight of last year’s Ojai Festival. This year Tyshawn will appear as a featured percussionist throughout the festival, and will present his own, uncategorizable music for Double Trio. Also, in a special program, Sorey will lead members of International Contemporary Ensemble using a technique called “conduction,” a process that exemplifies what Iyer values most in music: a community forged through listening. For Iyer it’s all a matter of trust, though not in the sense of a safe space, but a space for shared daring. Whether responding to the intricate systems of Indian music, the technique of orchestral composition, or the challenges of ensemble improvisation, Vijay is looking for expressive frontiers, “to put ourselves at maximum creative risk whenever possible.”
And he’s inviting us to sit in.
Enter to win prizes from Holiday Marketplace vendors and the grand prize an Ojai Spa Weekend Getaway! Tickets are $20 for 3 and can be ordered online or by calling 805 646 2053.
Raffle Grand Prize: 2 Nights in Ojai Downtown Guest Studio & Spa Weekend
Spend two nights in this wonderful downtown guest studio. A large balcony offers wonderful “tree-top views” of the local Ojai mountains.
The famous Ojai downtown shopping arcade is just a few minutes walk.
Also included with this grand prize:
- Bottle of Wine and (2) Tastings from Topa Mountain Winery
- Lunch at Suzanne’s
- Coffee at Coffee Roasting Company
- Haircut and Blow Dry from Carol Farrar at Contempo Salon
- Manicure at GLO by Teresa Farrell
- Massage from Day Spa of Ojai
Click here to order raffle tickets online or call 805 646 2053 to purchase over the phone. Proceeds benefit the Ojai Music Festival and its BRAVO music education programs in the schools and community.
This raffle is registered with the CA Dept. of Justice under registration RF1651.
The Ojai Music Festival is pleased to announce Sandra Shapiro and Merrill Williams as new co-chairs of the BRAVO Education Committee. Both Sandra and Merrill are excited to help the program in bringing music programs to school children throughout the Ojai Valley, including Music Van, the Imagine concert, Chumash Music and Culture, Education Through Music (ETM), and the Upbeat Percussion Workshops at Continuing Care Centers.
Sandra Shapiro has lived in Ojai for ten years. As a nurse, she has experience working with new mothers in the post-partum field, as well as in school health. She is currently on the Board of the Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center, a family-directed outreach program to help families with support, education, and emotional care and served as a past president. Sandra has been an active member of the Ojai Festivals Women’s Committee for five years.
Sandra says about the BRAVO program, “This is something that draws people to be a part of supporting the Festival. It is our greater hope, desire, and awareness that children thrive when exposed to and included in musical participation. They have an appreciation of the expressive culture. Music also builds confidence, brain skills in mathematics and logic and the chance for self-expression. This translates into greater confidence and ultimately better citizens. Music and the arts are part of the powerful, ineffable sphere of the human experience.”
Merrill Williams has lived in Ojai for 44 years. Part of her extensive background in marketing and publicity was working for the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa for 15 years as Public Relations Director. There she worked closely with the national and international press. A long-time Festival subscriber, Merrill recently served as past president of the Ojai Festivals Women’s Committee and joined the Festival’s Board of Director in September. Merrill comes from a musical family; her mother was an arranger who specialized in women’s choral music. She would also lead choirs on tours to local schools and prisons. Merrill is firmly aware of the importance of music to our youth, and to society.
For more information on the Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO education in the schools and community, click here. If you are interested in the BRAVO committee, a voluntary group that meets once a month, contact Laura Walter at 805 646 2094.
Want to help the program? Join us at the Ojai Holiday Home Tour & Marketplace, November 12 and 13, a major fundraiser for the BRAVO education programs!
Why does L.A. need its own summer classical music festival? For answers, look 6,000 miles away
A tale of two exalted European city festivals begins with surprising signifiers. Conspicuously tacked on a press office bulletin board at the tony Salzburg Festival is a large photo of John Cage. The leading 20th century anti-establishment American artist is — at least in this small Salzburg dominion through which artists, writers and administrators regularly pass — a bastion of the classical music establishment.
At that other prestigious address for classical music in summertime, Lucerne, Switzerland, posters and program books are centered with the words PRIMA DONNA in large type, the I being a graphic of a conductor’s baton extending from the manicured red nail of a lady’s right hand, which is encircled by bees. This year’s theme of the Lucerne festival is the empowerment of women in classical music, particularly as composers and conductors.
Outside observers have found such queen bee business a wee bit condescending, but given that parts of Switzerland gave women the vote only in the 1970s, this is a statement. So too is the fact that the artistic director designate of the Salzburg Festival is Austrian pianist Markus Hinterhäuser, a modern music specialist known for his penetrating recordings of John Cage’s New York School.
Social progress can seem slow in this part of the world. Tradition and history weigh heavily on Switzerland and particularly Austria, where you occasionally encounter opera goers in lederhosen.
Standard repertory and standard stars prevail as they always have in both places. Audiences remain well-heeled. As always, the festivals cater to the classical music business; it can be as easy to run into an orchestra manager or artist’s representative in Salzburg or Lucerne as it is a movie producer in Cannes.
Still something startling is in the air. Lucerne celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2013 with the theme “Viva la Revolución” and festival honchos showed up for a gala event wearing Che garb. Salzburg has yet to announce next year’s program, Hinterhäuser’s first season, but Peter Sellars has said that he will be back at the festival for the first time in almost two decades.
Salzburg and Lucerne are special places. As destination festivals, they have lost none of their importance in the Internet age, however much our expectation is that anything that matters is immediately and effortlessly available.
Indeed the website medici.tv has a smattering of this year’s offerings thus far, including a new production of Gounod’s “Faust” in Salzburg and Riccardo Chailly’s compelling performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. As I write, I am listening on the BBC Radio 3 website to a London Proms broadcast of Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla conducting her first program as music director as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and with a little imagination I can feel the excitement in the Royal Albert Hall.
But vicarious reality is really equivocal reality. I’m not there, I’m at my keyboard, half listening, fooling myself while allowing Grazinyte-Tyla’s thrilling Tchaikovsky Fourth Symphony to help speed my typing.
A festival, on the other hand, is a concentrated excursion away from the computer and the quotidian. It needn’t always be a special destination. The Proms, the Berlin Festival, Paris Autumn and Prague Spring and other city festivals are primarily for residents. A few small, out-of-the-way American cities have small destination festivals of note — Ojai, close to home, is one. But Lincoln Center Festival in July comes closest to a big international festival of the performance arts, and it has become less ambitious and less provocative than it once was.
What about Los Angeles? As the city weighs the feasibility of its bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, let us remember what it meant in 1984 when L.A. mounted an Olympic Arts Festival that changed the complexion of performance arts in Los Angeles. Do we have it in us to do it again by, say, reviving the biannual Los Angeles Festival, the follow-up to the Olympic Arts Festival, which lasted only until 1993 and had ambitions to put us in the league with Berlin and Paris?
First, though, it might be worth considering how Salzburg and Lucerne did it, and how what they do now reverberates around the world.
The Salzburg Festival was founded in 1920 in Mozart’s quaint hometown at the foot of the Austrian Alps to be an international outpouring of opera, concerts and theater from the leading artists of the day. The Lucerne Festival came along 18 years later in reaction to Salzburg having become far too appealing to Hitler and his SS contingent. So the adamant anti-Fascist Arturo Toscanini started a festival on the shores of Lake Lucerne at the foot of the Swiss Alps.
Both festivals enhanced their reputations after World War II with star conductors, notably Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg and Wilhelm Furtwängler in Lucerne. Recordings of concerts and operas from the festivals automatically had the stamp of quality. An air of exclusivity wafted over both places as new concert halls and opera houses were built and offerings became more lavish.
Today Lucerne, which is primarily devoted to concert music, has a budget of around $27 million, while Salzburg, which produces opera and theater as well as concerts, boasts a budget more than double that.
That kind of bankrolling (most of which is private support) can, of course, lend an air of exclusivity, which both festivals have worked hard to lessen, while becoming much more expansive. And to that end, they sponsor education projects, foster emerging artists and commission new work. In Salzburg the lasting contribution from this summer is likely to be the premiere of Thomas Adés’ opera, “The Exterminating Angel,” a work meant to challenge the very essence of status quo — shockingly so in its harsh depiction of stymied high society — which will now be done at Royal Opera in London and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
I was also stuck by the Salzburg debut of pianist Yuja Wang. She may be on the flashy side for the more conservative audiences, but she couldn’t have been more modestly respectful — or daring — than to step into eminent Salzburgian shoes. At a legendary 1970 song recital here, German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter, two of the most celebrated musicians of their time, performed Brahms’ song cycle “Die Schöne Magelone.” This summer, in the gilded great hall of the Mozarteum, Wang became the steady hand that saved overwrought baritone Matthias Goerne from his excesses and helped signal a new maturity for the 29-year-old pianist.
At Lucerne, a number of worthy women conductors — Grazinyte-Tyla, to be sure, but also the likes of the American big-band jazz leader Maria Schneider and the adventurous Canadian singer-conductor Barbara Hannigan — are getting important exposure. The biggest news, though, is likely to be the contribution from Olga Neuwirth, this year’s composer in residence.
I heard a performance of her impressive recent immersive work, “Le Encantadas,” in which the audience was surrounded by instrumental groups and electronic music from loudspeakers. It is a gripping evocation of the Galapagos, inspired by Herman Melville’s voyage to the South American islands, that revealed an alluring and unsettling strangeness even one of America’s greatest writers could not capture as well.
Now back home. Arguments could be made for and against Los Angeles becoming a major festival city. The Los Angeles Philharmonic, where Grazinyte-Tyla began as a Dudamel fellow and is associate conductor, does an exceptional job promoting young talent and commissioning new work. Schneider was a featured artist five years ago at the Ojai Music Festival; Hannigan will be its music director in 2019. Not all that serves as news on the European festival circuit is necessarily news to visiting Angelenos.
Moreover, much of what was new and exciting in dance and theater at the Olympic Arts Festival, which opened with Pina Bausch, the choreographer then unknown in the U.S., is now regularly presented by the Center for Art of Performance at UCLA and REDCAT. Even so, we are a multicultural city that barely scratches the surface of consequential work created in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. For that we need a festival.
So what would it take? First of all, money. Michael Haefliger, Lucerne’s visionary executive and artistic director, told me that if L.A. is going to present a festival it would require a large-scale, full-time operation.
Robert Fitzpatrick, the former president of CalArts who created the 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, said that civic enthusiasm is essential to doing something exceptional. “A festival,” he said over the phone from Long Island, N.Y., “has to be a moment of discovery.”
Fitzpatrick reminded me of the fights he had when he wanted to open his follow-up Los Angeles Festival in 1986 with a Canadian circus no one had ever heard of called Cirque du Soleil. They thought he had to be kidding.
For Fitzpatrick money comes once you have the civic support. Then-Mayor Tom Bradley threw the power of City Hall behind the L.A. Festival. That, Fitzpatrick said, opened doors to donors like Lew Wasserman and Barry Diller.
There is cautious talk coming from the Music Center about an ambitious summer festival, employing its underused-in-the-summer campus, Grand Park and, I would hope, a host of potential venues around downtown. But festivals must be big and bold to matter. Let the talk turn to shouting into loudspeakers at whatever volume is necessary to drown out downtown construction and penetrate the thick walls of the nearby county and city offices.
Over the summer, future music director Patricia Kopatchinskaja wrote a piece for The Guardian discussing her favorite pieces of minimalist music – in the process discussing her approach to performing, her relationship with minimalism, and her championing of composer Galina Ustvolskaya. Read the full piece on The Guardian website or download a PDF >>
Less can be more. Arguments do not get more convincing by using more words or by shouting, and a woman does not get more beautiful by hanging lots of jewellery around her. Art forms that make their statements with a minimum of means carry a strong attraction, especially in music. And minimalism is far from a 20th-century invention. Here’s some of my favourite pieces of “minimalist” music .
For me the most outstanding and radical composer of recent times – Galina Ustvolskaja – published only some two dozen works and destroyed the rest, an act which in itself is a form of minimalism. Isolated in the USSR, she wrote the most extreme music, limiting herself to the minimum of musical material and instrumentation, but achieving the maximum of spiritual strength. Her music comes “as is” out of nothing or from deep and primordial sources. She renounces any artificial elaboration. I often think only a woman could become this kind of medium. A man would immediately try to understand, analyse, systematise, “count the legs” of his creature. Ustvolskaja did nothing of the sort.
Here is her Composition No 2 “Dies irae” (1972/3): You see the wooden box that looks like a coffin. This is an instrument of her own invention. In Orthodox Christian countries the closing of the coffin over the body of a beloved relative is a ritual: the hard sound of hitting the coffin nails becomes the memory of a cruel farewell. Throughout her music she is saying – “I give all my soul, all my heart” – and you will do so as well, either as an interpreter or as a listener. Whether you like it or not, your brain will be in serious danger of exploding, and many other pieces of music will suddenly seem an unnecessary waste of time and paper. Of course the piece was banned in her home country after its first performance.
In the lead-up to the East Coast premiere of the Josephine Baker Project, The New York Times Zachary Woolfe sat down with Julia Bullock and Tyshawn Sorey to discuss the genesis and evolution of the project, and its particular importance at this moment in time. Read the full piece on the NY Times website or download a PDF >>
JULIA BULLOCK I had been wanting to sing her songs since college, which was the first time that anyone compared me to Baker. So I was just trying to find the right opportunity, the right person to arrange them, and the right context.
I performed a group of her songs in my New York debut recital, and Peter’s producer caught wind of it. And Peter said that if I would be interested in it, he was hooking up with Claire Chase [the International Contemporary Ensemble’s founder], and they brought Tyshawn on board and Claudia Rankine to write poetry. There was a part of me that didn’t know how much I wanted a white man grandfathering all this. But I think one of Peter’s great strengths is he brings together artists that seem to have a unique perspective and purpose . . .
Were you, are you, thinking about current events?
BULLOCK These issues, they’re always on my mind. When Michael Brown was killed, that happened 20 minutes from my home in St. Louis. All these issues are things I live with and think about daily. Yes, I understood the timeliness of what we were writing. Hearing her sing “Si J’Étais Blanche” [“If I Were White”] in 1925 is just as relevant as singing it now.
I’m half-white, and I thought it was really important as a performer to talk about my complex feelings about going into an industry predominately run by white people. Issues with exoticism still come up. Objectification still comes up. To have an opportunity to speak about that in music was great. I need to say those things right now, and the world needs to hear how I think. And to be given a platform to do it, it’s a gift both Tyshawn and I have been given.
SOREY The music that we make is comprised solely of our life experiences. The police brutality that we’re experiencing right now, it’s been happening for a very long time. I was born and raised in Newark, and police brutality and shootings happened near my block. The difference between then and now is that the media is talking about it. To do a reimagination of the Baker songs to me — even though the music per se might sound a particular way for a particular time — the lyrical content is timeless, and I wanted to create something musically to reflect what we’re experiencing now.
Is it still changing?
BULLOCK We’re all trying to share and experience and re-evaluate. So I can’t say when we’re going to have a finished product on this. I think everyone was in agreement that the first third of it, even though the music was amazing, needed to kind of get it going. So we’ve talked about establishing the relationship between Tyshawn and I, and having a more playful element to open it, creating a more welcoming space. And we’re always talking about what new songs to do .
“Musical genre is a twentieth-century concept. Today we can move beyond the dated classification of music into genres like ‘jazz,’ ‘classical,’ ‘experimental,’ and so on; instead there are only communities, and their different ways of making, sharing, and experiencing music. Communities are fluid, porous, and dynamic and can intersect or overlap; you might participate in multiple communities at once. What you will see and hear next year at Ojai is a spectrum of master musicians from disparate communities – composers, performers, improvisers – whose work spans many different systems and approaches. What they have in common, and what binds all of us, is that we listen to each other, and we find ways of making music together.”
– Vijay Iyer, 2017 Music Director.
As the Ojai Music Festival anticipates this week’s 70th Festival (June 9-12, 2016) with Music Director Peter Sellars, the Festival’s 2017 Music Director Vijay Iyer and Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris share initial programming for the 71st Festival, June 8-11, 2017.
“Vijay Iyer is one of the most creative artists I know, and his breadth of musicianship, intellect, and curiosity made him an irresistible choice to be the 2017 Music Director. Not only does Vijay possess an extraordinary range of musical collaborators, many of whom will join him in Ojai, but he is devising a program centered on the very creativity of producing music – from composition to performing to improvising,” said Thomas W. Morris. “Joining him will be returning Ojai family, International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) with conductor, and Ojai’s 2015 Music Director, Steven Schick, Carnatic vocalist Aruna Sairam, and percussionist Tyshawn Sorey. Among the artists who will make their Ojai debuts in 2017 are violinist Jennifer Koh, the Vijay Iyer Trio and Sextet, and composer-performers Wadada Leo Smith and Steve Lehman.”
2017 Festival programming will feature the world premiere of a commissioned violin concerto by Vijay Iyer for violinist Jennifer Koh; the West Coast premiere of George Lewis’ Afterword: The AACM (as) Opera, based on his award-winning book A Power Stronger than Itself; Stravinsky’s Le Sacré du Printemps in a new arrangement for ICE by Cliff Colnot; and Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi – film by Prashant Bhargava with music by Vijay Iyer, performed with ICE. Additional programming will be announced in the fall.
About Vijay Iyer
The 2017 Festival introduces composer-pianist Vijay Iyer (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) as Music Director. A Grammy nominee, Iyer was named DownBeat Magazine’s 2015 Artist of the Year and 2014 Pianist of the Year, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, and a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist. He has released over twenty recordings under his own name. The latest, on the ECM label, include A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (2016), a duo recording with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith; Mutations, featuring his compositions for piano, string quartet, and electronics; Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi, a film by Prashant Bhargava, with Iyer’s score performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE); and Break Stuff, featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio. Iyer is the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music at Harvard University, and the director of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music. His compositions have been commissioned by Arturo O’Farrill, American Composers Orchestra, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Brentano Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Imani Winds, ICE, Jennifer Koh, Matt Haimovitz, and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. He is a Steinway artist.
Series Passes for 2017 Ojai Music Festival
Advance 2017 series subscriptions are now available for purchase. To order, come to the box office during the Festival weekend, order online at www.Ojaifestival.org, or by calling 805 646 2053
The Festival continues to be a place for experimentation and discovery for both artists and audiences. Each year after the Festival, we send out an electronic survey to ticket buyers. For those who participated, we thank you for taking the time to share your feedback about your experience.
As we continue to comb through the results and comments, we would like to share some initial findings.
We collected 931 emails of ticket buyers. 41% responded by completing the survey.
Survey respondents also shared their memorable moments from the 2016 Festival. Here is a selection from both returning and new ticket buyers. Thank you for participating in our survey!
“This year’s festival introduced me to music and artists unfamiliar to me. It all excited me. I attended only the Thursday and Friday concerts and I am looking forward to streaming the concerts I missed. I loved the talks; they helped me understand the intentions of the composers as they created their pieces. Thank you Peter Sellers for an exquisite program!”
“Experiencing music within my community is so much richer than listening to music alone. The community, seeing friends and acquaintances, is as important as hearing the pieces.”
“Aruna Sriram was magnificent. I love and study Indian classical… It was great to be in the presence of a master.”
“Roomful of Teeth was truly exciting! Peter Sellar’s enthusiasm was contagious and inspiring!”
“The Friday June 10 ‘The Mystic House’ program with Caroline Shaw’s Partita for 8 Voices, and Carla Kihlstedt’s ‘All Night We Walk in Circles…’ was as electric, exciting and all-consuming a program as I have heard in years. I was totally absorbed musically and emotionally. I returned home on a cloud of inspiration and joy.”
“Davonne’s version of Caroline Shaw’s three songs: the reaction that Caroline displayed after having heard that performance of the songs she has heretofore sang herself was reflective of the high level of artistry of the people gathered for the Festival, and inventive programming provided the artists. It doesn’t get better than this, folks!”
“I found magnetic energy in the engagement of the audience. I will not forget the look on my young daughters face when Dina El Wedidi sang, with a voice clear and bright and so full of life.”
“Watching the Sunday afternoon performance of ICE and YOLA debut their collaborative graphic score with my 5-year-old son.”
“Seeing a female conducting a piece composed by a woman about Simone Weil featuring a woman of color as a soloist was just amazing. The talk beforehand was stunning. I can’t applaud the festival and Peter Sellars enough for choosing to foreground women. The fact that this year’s festival touched on both Simone Weil and Claudia Rankine is a testament to the depth of the artistry of all involved.”
“The friendliness, camaraderie of the Music Festival. It is truly like a big family!”
“I have enjoyed watching this festival evolve as I have attended off and on since high school in the 1960s to now and it just gets better.”
“The entire experience is unique and transporting. Maddening and magical.”
Watch videos of concerts and artist interviews from the 2016 Ojai Music Festival.
The 2016 Ojai Music Festival with Music Director Peter Sellars embodied the spirit of the Festival with an openness to exploration and risk-taking, adventure and surprise, embracing the new and welcoming the unfamiliar. Relive the 2016 Festival anytime by watching our archived live streaming concerts here.
Feedback from our audience, artists and members of the press is important to us. Read excerpts here or download the full PDF version.
In part because this 70-year-old festival’s musical leadership changes each year, its audience — loyal and attentive, with a bourgeois-bohemian vibe that aptly reflects the sheltered, fragrant Ojai — is unusually open to variation and exploration. And just four days long, the event is compact enough to give the sense that its offerings are the product of a single mind rather than a committee. This was Mr. Sellars’s personal playlist, leave it or — more often — take it. – The New York Times
As the great Southern California music retreat, the Ojai Music Festival offers venturesome refuge from normal life for locals and visitors to this blissed-out valley. – Los Angeles Times
Passion finds sustaining nourishment and intimacy in Saariaho’s exquisite chamber score, demonstrating her signature sensitivity to timbre and balance and offering affectingly dark-hued instrumental colorings – Musical America
The role of the work’s narrator (a fictitious sister for Weil created by the librettist, Amin Maalouf) was assumed by the rising soprano Julia Bullock, who lent the performance controlled vigor, tonal purity and fierce commitment – The Wall Street Journal
Her captivating Partita for 8 Voices was a close-harmony vocal exploration by Roomful of Teeth (in which Shaw is a vocalist) of four antique dances that sway and stretch in surprising and captivating contemporary ways. The work won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for composition. Baritone Davóne Tines and the Calder Quartet’s later performance of Shaw’s By and By (freely set bluegrass and gospel texts) galvanized all present. In the fine acoustics of the Besant Hill School’s Zalk Theater, the rendering by Tines induced tears from many — the composer and Sellars himself among them. – Classical Voice North America
It is not only Saariaho’s work that is gripping, but the entire array of composers on “the front edge” of the next generation that Sellars celebrates. As it happens, most of those brought together for the festival are women, a disparate group with distinctive ideas for the future of music. They, and many of the performers, also represent many countries and multiple continents, brought together to illuminate musical possibilities for the 21st century. – Ventura County Star
If all this sounds like a recipe for confusion, that’s only partly the case. Despite his deliberately esoteric approach, there’s an emotional center to Vivier’s work that this performance managed to communicate very directly to the audience, and many were visibly moved by both the music and the occasion, proving once again that certain musical experiences could only happen in Ojai. – Santa Barbara Independent
Chase silently appeared on stage, an ominously chilly electronic soundscape rising in the background. She launched herself at a tam-tam, rattling and grinding metal sticks along the surface at full fury, before picking up her bass flute. Throwing her whole body into the music, slowly breathing in and whisper-shouting into her instrument, she demonstrated why she is truly one of the most vibrant performers on the concert stage. – I Care If You Listen
Taken through the lenses of Katurah Ashby and Salt Arts Documentation, here are some moments from the 70th Ojai Music Festival.
May 27, 2016
I spent the last day at our first rehearsals in New York for Ojai 2016. Most of artists are in New York so it is most efficient to do much of our preparation work there. We will be holding rehearsals there through June 1, and then the artists then come to Ojai June 3 to resume preparations June 4.
Yesterday started with a rehearsal for Josephine Baker A Portrait at ICEhaus, ICE’s home in Brooklyn. Soprano Julia Bullock has long been an advocate of Josephine Baker, the astonishing black American singer who in 1925 emigrated to Paris and became one of the most famous entertainers in the world. For Ojai, Peter Sellars and Julia Bullock have devised a very unique musical portrait of this remarkable artist with new and mind-bending arrangements by composer/drummer/trombonist/pianist Tyshawn Sorey. I first heard of Tyshawn from Vijay Iyer in planning for the 2017 Ojai Festival. Claire Chase suggested last summer that Tyshawn collaborate for the Baker project. The results are simply amazing – fresh, insightful, moving and powerful. The work is scored for Julia Bullock and a small ensemble of ICE payers – violin, flute, bassoon, oboe, and guitar – plus Tyshawn himself on piano and drums.
This was followed by the arrival of singer/composer/violinist Carla Kihlstedt to rehearse her At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire. Carla thrilled Ojai audiences in 2009 with her unforgettable performance of Lisa Bielawa’s Kafka Songs for soprano and violin, in which Carla unbelievably performed both parts simultaneously. Carla’s work, a setting of dreams, involves herself as singer with a nine-piece ensemble of ICE, and will be performed Friday afternoon at 3pm. The work is magical.
Finally, I went to the Park Avenue Armory to hear two the first two rehearsals of Claude Vivier’s Kopernikus. This fiendishly difficult work is scored for seven vocalists (all from the remarkable Roomful of Teeth) and seven members of ICE, all masterfully conducted by Eric Dudley, also a member of Roomful of Teeth. As Christopher Hailey has written in the program book, “Kopernikus, more an oratorio than an opera, is a series of scenes depicting the journey of the alto soloist, Agni (the name of the Hindu god of fire), as she encounters, in death, a succession of mythical and historical gures (sung by the other six solo singers), including Lewis Carroll, Merlin, a sorceress, the Queen of the Night, a blind prophet, an old monk, Tristan and Isolde, Mozart, the Master of the Waters, and Copernicus and his mother. “ As Vivier himself writes, “these characters are perhaps the dreams that accompany Agni during her initiation and finally into her dematerialization.” The composer has urged “we not try to read any meaning into what happens but try to feel what’s happening. Not try to understand, but to enjoy what’s happening. It’s for this reason that it’s written in large part in an invented language of phonetic sounds”.
Despite the staggering difficulty and complexity of the music, I was totally unprepared to experience the sheer exhilarating beauty of the music live (I had only previously heard a DVD of a staged performance from Amsterdam), the result of the absolutely incredible virtuosity and commitment of Roomful of Teeth and ICE. Watching Peter Sellars coax, explain, and give meaning to text was a revelation. In planning this festival, Kopernikus was clearly a priority of Peter, who has long believed in the piece, but never done it before. I cannot wait to hear how the many rehearsals develop (there are three more full days of in New York, before three days in Ojai. The work is the final concert in the Libbey Bowl on Sunday June 12 before everyone heads off for the festival finale in Santa Paula.
We are in for some incredible musical experiences week after next!
– Tom Morris