Meet Our Interns!

Back row (from left): Laura Schwartz, Cynthia Vong, Dominique Wright, Milo Talwani, Jamie Leidwinger, Andy Radford, Leilani Fiset, Emily Persinko, Jay Real, Cole Mantell; Front Row (from left): Zoe Appleby, Kathryn Carlson, Buddy, Sierra Farrar, Cori McGinley. Not shown: Clay Burton, Fiona Digney, Savannah Grinnell

Each year, the Ojai Music Festival Arts Management Internship Program welcomes 12-14 college students and recent graduates to go behind the scenes of a renowned summer music festival. We are very excited to introduce this year’s wonderful interns!

Zoe Appleby is a proud Southern California resident and student, a poetry lover, and an aspiring museum curator. She is a year away from completing her liberal arts degree at Thomas Aquinas College, a school dedicated to reading and discussing the great works of Western thought and literature. Among her favorite works are Newton’s “Principia”, Homer’s “The Iliad”, Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales”, the plays of Shakespeare, Descartes’ “Geometry”, and Aristotle’s “Ethics”. She first heard of the Ojai Music Festival while attending Villanova Preparatory School in Ojai. Last year, 2016, in working as a volunteer for the Festival, she was highly impressed by the balance of enthusiasm and professionalism found behind-the-scenes. She is excited to return to the Festival as an intern this year. The same love of beauty and culture that first drew her to the Ojai Music Festival also motivates her future career aims. She hopes, in the next few years, to pursue a graduate degree in Art History with a view towards becoming a museum curator. She sees museums as some of the country’s most important cultural institutions, preserving and strengthening humanity’s connection to Beauty through wonder.

Clay Burton began as a drummer and music producer in the LA area exploring experimental production styles. He studied at the Institute of Sonology in The Hague, NL, focusing on algorithmic composition and instrument design. This started his path in the creation of systems that make new types of music/textures at California Institute of the Arts.

Kathryn Carlson is a cello performance major at UCSB in her senior year. She is interested in pursuing new music, which she became involved in during her sophomore year of high school after being introduced to it by her music theory teacher Mr. Hertzog (composer for the kung-fu film Bloodsport). She has been a member of the UCSB Ensemble of Contemporary Music (ECM) throughout her time at UCSB and has performed in various other concerts presenting new works including the 2016 UCSB Summer Music Festival and the Beethoven, New Music, and Cupcake Bar concert put on by the Now Hear Ensemble. Recently she was awarded the ECM Distinguished Performance Award for the 2015-16 school year. She hopes to apply to a graduate school soon to continue her studies of contemporary performance.

Fiona Digney, the 2017 Steven Rothenberg Intern Fellow, is an Australian-born multi-faceted percussionist who holds both education and performance degrees and is currently based in California while she undertakes doctoral studies under the guidance of Prof. Steven Schick. She has enjoyed a wide-ranging freelance career over the last decade, performing in solo, ensemble, and theatrical settings in Australia, China, Canada, The Netherlands, Sweden, England, Mexico, and the United States. As an avid proponent of new music, she has commissioned and premiered various percussion works from composers across the globe and has been involved in many new music ensembles; most recently as on-stage percussionist in the European premiere of Anne Washburn’s highly acclaimed post-electric play, Mr. Burns at the Almeida theatre, London. Fiona has performed with West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Tetrafide percussion quartet (AUS), Ensemble 64.8 (USA), Het Zuiderlijk Toneel, and Diamantfabrielk theatre companies (NL), as well as a soloist at Club Zho and the launch of the Totally Huge New Music Festival (AUS). Fiona is a current member of red fish blue fish and is active in both the music and theatre departments at the University of California, San Diego.

Sierra Farrar recently finished her sophomore year at Westmont College, where she studies Biology and Music. She grew up in Colorado and traveled to many festivals throughout the years with her musical family; she is looking forward to adding the Ojai Festival to that list. Sierra is a violinist with extensive experience in professional chamber music, and come to Ojai after touring with the Westmont College Choir in Europe. Sierra spent a semester studying in India and learned much culturally from that experience. She is an experienced equestrian and has participated in Westernaires, a group that presents competitions between mounted drill teams.

Leilani Fiset recently finished her first year studying Photography at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. She hopes to work in the film industry as a movie photographer or a more design related field like at an ad agency. Growing up and occasionally returning to Ojai over the years has given me the experience of living in a small town and the beauty that comes with it, compared to life in a larger city that has a different kind of beauty. This has impacted my photography and my view of life.

Savannah Grinell is a rising junior at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts studying stage management and she is beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with Ojai. Recent stage management credits include In the Heights, The Golem: A Horror Opera, PlayGround: A Festival of New Plays (NYU StageWorks), and Urinetown (New Studio on Broadway). Recent design credits include Makeup Designer for The Conference of the Birds and Asst. Scenic Designer for Polaroid Stories (NYU StageWorks). 

Jamie Leidwinger is a composer and freelance contributor at Q2 Music currently living in Baltimore, MD. She is pursuing a Master of Music degree in Composition at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, and received a Bachelor of Arts in Music and minor in Political Science from Dickinson College. Her teachers include recent Pulitzer Prize-winner Du Yun, Amy Beth Kirsten, David Smooke, Douglas Buchanan, and Robert Pound. When she is not busy composing, Jamie enjoys baking, podcasting, and finding new teas to add to her collection.

Cole Mantell is pursuing a degree in History at Oberlin College. His future goals are pretty undefined right now, and hopes that wherever he end up it is full of good people and good conversations. Music has always been an important part of Cole’s life, and this past semester he hosted a radio show that played “political” music, which he defined fairly broadly, as it ranged from instrumental jazz, to antiwar music, to 90’s hip hop. He found out about Ojai through a good friend who graduated Oberlin last year and now works full time for OMF. Cole is very excited to join the Ojai team this summer and continue to explore music and meet new people.

Cori McGinley is currently entering her second year at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Art’s in American Studies, and minor in Education. In 2016, Cori was selected to be a Hefner Initiative to travel to China through the Hefner Foundation. She is the Vice President of Community Development of Pi Beta Phi, Beta Chapter, and a mentor to John Muir Elementary School with the SAGE mentorship program. Cori have volunteered or interned with the Ojai Music Festival for five years now, but she and her my family have attended the festival for many years prior. I have dreams of attending graduate school abroad and eventually earning a Ph.D.

Emily Persinko is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Music in Music Entrepreneurship and Business at San Diego State University (SDSU). She has interests in arts administration and is currently Artistic Intern with Art of Élan, Production Assistant with the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory, and Front of House Manager for the SDSU School of Music. As a classically trained flautist, Emily has 12 years of ensemble experience and is the principal flutist of the SDSU Chamber Orchestra. Emily is excited for her second summer as an Ojai Festival intern.

Jay Real is a junior at Westmont College pursuing a B.A. in Music Theory and Composition. He plans to pursue a doctorate in Theory and Composition and becoming a Professor of Music Theory. Additionally, Jay is a pianist who focuses on jazz, classical, and collaborative repertoire.

Laura Schwartz is a composer, horn player, conductor, and music theorist. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, she grew up in a much warmer place: Carlsbad, California. She attended the University of California, Davis (B.A. 2013). Laura completed her Masters in Music Composition from Illinois State University (M.M. 2015). Currently, she is a PhD in Music Composition and Theory student at the University of Pittsburgh studying with Amy Williams. Laura’s music was performed during the Oregon Bach Festival Composer’s Symposium (2014), the Oregon Symposium of Graduate Musicians (2015), Nief Norf festival (2015), and the Yarn/Wire Institute (2016). She was artist in residence with the University of Pittsburgh Department of Physics and Astronomy (2016), culminating in System Cooling, an illustrated set of six miniatures for clarinet, baritone saxophone, violin, and double bass. Her collaborations with solo performers include Sarah Pyle flute(s) and Aaron Hydns tuba. The Tuba piece she wrote for Hydns, entitled Left Out, is set for release in Summer 2017 on the album Colossus: Recordings of New Music for Tuba.Laura is interested in acoustic noise floors, Pauline Oliveros, verbal notation, and electric fans. Although she is an avid watcher of the live streamed content, this is her first time in person at the Ojai Music Festival.

Milo Talwani is a composer, rock musician, virtual reality event organizer, film production and post-production sound worker, concert sound mixer, proud older sibling, and parent to three kitties. They have been to every Ojai festival since 2009.

Cynthia Vong, flutist, is a native of Pennsylvania and received her Bachelor of Music Education degree from The Pennsylvania State University where she studied with Dr. Naomi Seidman. During her time at Penn State, she earned the School of Music Performer’s Recognition Award, was a member of the top wind ensemble and orchestra, and was selected to perform in the Woodwind Jury Honors Recital consecutively for four semesters.  Cynthia has been a featured soloist with the Reading Symphony Orchestra and Ringgold Band and was invited to perform at the Annual National Flute Association Convention in 2013 and 2015 with the Penn State Flute Choir. During the summer months, she was an active member of the Ringgold Band and the Reading Pops Orchestra. She has also performed in master classes for artists such as Bonita Boyd, Amy Porter, Robert Dick, Jeffrey Khaner, Bart Feller, and many more. Cynthia is currently pursuing her Masters of Music in performance at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she studies with Jill Felber.

Dominique Wright attends Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA and is pursuing a degree in Media Arts and Culture with a double minor in Economics and Flute Performance. She hopes to continue her track in social media marketing and expand into corporate marketing and management. This will be Dominique’s first time attending the Ojai Music Festival, and she can’t wait for the great experiences and memories. 


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  For more information on the 70th Ojai Music Festival, visit



BRAVO Leadership Change: Welcome Sandra Shapiro and Merrill Williams

sandra-shapiro-and-merrill-williamsThe 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!

The Ojai Music Festival Makes Musicians of All Children


Third graders at Topa Topa as BRAVO music teacher Laura Walter helps them identify a song by reading notes.

The Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO program is laying the foundation for all of Ojai’s public school children to become musicians, starting at a very early age.  In first and second grades, the students experience songs, games, rhythmic activities and simple sound/symbol matching.  This year, BRAVO has expanded its reach to third graders, who are beginning to read musical notes.  Weekly lessons are taught by Laura Walter using the principles of ETM (Education Through Music).

Next year, when these students are in fourth grade, they will be given the opportunity to sample a variety of instruments, provided by BRAVO. These early musical opportunities are paying dividends, as students are inspired to play instruments or sing in chorus at the intermediate, junior and senior high school level. Students who do not move into further music training have developed an appreciation of music which will serve them well throughout their lives.

According to Kathy Broesamle, ETM volunteer and grandparent of three public school music students, “it’s no wonder that Nordhoff High School has such a strong music program that encompasses classical, jazz, choral and theatrical elements. We are blessed with highly talented and devoted teachers, as well as students who, thanks to BRAVO have a solid music background.”

BRAVO, made possible by the Ojai Music Festival, is funded by community donations and the proceeds from the Holiday Home Look-in and Holiday Marketplace, which will be on November 12-13, 2016.


Creating And Connecting With Music

Imagine a world where wonder happens every day. March is “Music in the Schools Month” and the Ojai Music Festival is bringing that to life. The Festival’s BRAVO Education and Community Program brings the joy of music into classrooms throughout the Ojai Valley and two Ventura area schools with the Imagine Concert, the Music Van, Flutes Across the World, Artists-in-Residence programs, and weekly Education Through Music workshops in every Ojai Unified Elementary school. The children are filled with wonder!

Bravo16115-300x200When we create music, the brain uses many networks to process phrases, melody, rhythm, and timbre, or tone color. The brain’s auditory areas light up, but so do areas responsible for motor skills, emotions, and creativity. Music employs many sensory systems at once. We are seeing, we are hearing, we are saying, we are doing. Because of this, memory and intelligence improve. Read More

Luke Martin, 2016 Steven Rothenberg Internship Fellow

We are thrilled to announce Luke Martin as the 2016 Steven Rothenberg Internship Fellow. Luke is a composer pursuing his M.F.A. at CalArts and was first an intern at the 2015 Festival. The Rothenberg Fellow and Festival Internship Program are made possible by the generous support of Fred and Ila Rothenberg, in memory of their son Steven Rothenberg.

Luke Martin (b. 1992) is an experimental composer, musician, and poet currently living in Valencia, CA. His work focuses on the concepts of liminality, neutrality, and lukefragility and is primarily interested in exploring limits of perception. More specifically, he is interested in the use of silence, listening, text, and sound as equally considered elements in the compositional practice; for instance, the composer’s task is not only to consider the parameters of determined sound making (both text and instrumental), but also the parameters of how we listen, and how we may interact with and frame silence. The composer, then, seeks to create situations of possible events which the audience, performer(s), and composer all experience concurrently. Further, Luke considers the social and political disposition of a performance a very connected aspect of his work: how can one critically think about the hierarchical roles and power relations at work in a given performance, and then potentially subvert or support them. Recently inspired by David Dunn’s notations for listening and Lasse Thoresen’s spectromorphological analysis of electronic music and sound, Luke is in the beginning stages of developing a notation for silence (i.e., incidental sounds, contingency).

Among his many influences, Luke is particularly inspired by the work of Samuel Beckett, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Peter Ablinger, Luigi Nono, the Wandelweiser Collective, and Gertrude Stein. He is currently in his final year of the M.F.A. music composition program at California Institute of the Arts, studying with Michael Pisaro. Originally from Massachusetts, Luke received his B.A. in English and Music from Colby College in Maine, graduating magna cum laude, phi beta kappa, and with honors in music composition/theory. He has received awards ranging from a Kennedy Center Award for Music Composition to the Mollie Seltzer Yett Prize for Music Academics. Aside from composing, Luke performs in a noise/no-input feedback duo ‘sinecure,’ plays tennis, guitar in both jazz and experimental music settings, enjoys canoeing with family and friends in Maine, and always appreciates a good game of cribbage.

Learn more about the Festival Internship Program >>

Flutes Across The World In The Philippines


For over 30 years, the Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO program has been enhancing the existing public school music curriculum by offering interdisciplinary music lessons. The goal is to help make music an integral, enjoyable, and exciting part of the everyday learning process while providing critical music education opportunities for Ojai Valley students. John Zeretzke is part of the BRAVO Artist Residency program.

Founder and director of the non-profit organization and NGO, “FLUTES ACROSS THE WORLD”, Mr. Zeretzke is holding music workshops in the Philippines, where children will be receiving free hand-decorated flutes made by children in America, including Ojai. He will be distributing flutes to students in poor schools in the Philippines that are built on dumpsites, refugee children from tribal conflicts in remote jungle areas, a school for the blind, tribal schools on the edge of inner Mindanao wilderness areas and more.

This week, he will be leading music instruction and personally delivering the flutes. The stories of these children and their lives are hard to believe, but we reach out to them through this program.

He is joined by a supporter in Manila, Ramon Moreno, who is a Commander with the Philippines Coast Guard Auxiliary and works with the Starkey Hearing Foundation. Also in partnership are the St. Vincent de Paul organizations in California and the Philippines, and other Filipino organizations for humanitarian outreach.

Workshops for local students will continue this winter and spring, made possible by the BRAVO Education program of the Ojai Music Festival. Our students should be very proud of the work they have done to make this possible. Our local children are working to spread the joy of music to others throughout the world. This is a powerful way to help share the vision of peace, joy and connection in a world today that needs just this kind of outreach to help create a better future for tomorrow.

Laura Walter, January 2016

Welcome Laura Walter – New Education Coordinator

The Festival warmly welcomes Laura Walter as our new Education Coordinator. Laura is taking over duties from Andy Radford, who has headed BRAVO for the past 12 years. Andy will remain as the Festival’s Intern Coordinator and Laura take charge of planning, organizing, and scheduling BRAVO’s activities in local classrooms and the Ojai community.

walterLaura writes, “What an honor to be involved with the Ojai Music Festival as the new Education Coordinator! Andy Radford has done a wonderful job of enriching the lives of the community, and I look forward to continuing his good work. Through the avenues of singing, percussion, flutes, and learning about the music of the Chumash culture, the BRAVO program acts as an important voice, bringing many enriching experiences of music to the people of the Ojai Valley and Ventura County. I’m so excited to be able to contribute! Music helps us feel a larger whole, a part of something bigger than ourselves. When beauty is created through feeling and thinking, an elevation occurs, a greater awareness and appreciation. Our world is better for it.”

Read More

Each February brings a BRAVO! tradition – the annual Imagine Concert. Last week, over 1,000 local 4th to 6th grade students from eight schools attended a live performance by their older peers and professional area artists, including performances by the Matilija Jr. High strings program and a special preview of Nordhoff High School’s upcoming musical, West Side Story. Also performing were Artist-In-Residence Rebecca Comerford, local musician Jimmy Calire and special guest (and BRAVO! alum), Jacob Scesney.

Multi-instrumentalist Jacob grew up in Ojai playing the saxophone and participating in school music programs and BRAVO! workshops from elementary school, through his time at Matilija and at Nordhoff (where he won several festival awards for outstanding soloist), before transferring to the Idyllwild Arts Academy to complete his high school education. In recent years, Jacob’s burgeoning career has taken him far beyond the Ojai Valley and included tours with Casey Abrams, performances with Tim Ries, Bernie Dresel, Christian Scott, Robben Ford, and Andrew Gouche (among others), the world premiere of Rufus Reid’s Mass Transit at Disney Hall’s Redcat, and even appearances on the hit TV show Glee. He currently studies at California State University Northridge, where he was named the youngest lead alto in the history of the university’s Jazz A Band.

Watch Jacob and Jimmy perform at the Imagine concert last week:

Jacob has fond memories of his time in Ojai and recently wrote on the important role  BRAVO! played in his musical training. He writes, “The BRAVO! Program … helped forge an attitude of consistency that has helped carry me through many circumstances. These programs are instrumental to the mindset needed to be a present active professional, in whatever field.”

We’re thrilled to have had Jacob back in Ojai to share his talents with another generation of Ojai’s students. It’s not that long ago that he sat where they were, and we can’t wait to see where the next years take him.

Learn more about the Festival’s BRAVO! music education and community programs >> 

Help the Festival continue bringing music to public school children. Donate here >>

In late October, BRAVO! launched its new program, Upbeat, at Ojai’s Community Hospital’s continuing care center. Over a dozen residents came out to participate in group music making and song performances, led by percussion specialist, music therapist and BRAVO! Artist-in-Residence, Judy Piazza.

Upbeat was conceived after a pilot workshop at the hospital, where BRAVO! volunteers brought a handful of instruments from the instrument petting zoo and led residents through a brief interactive workshop. The workshop was an instant success. Kristina Moffett, Activity Director at the Ojai Hospital Continuing Care Center wrote to BRAVO! Coordinator Andy Radford:

I am very excited to be a part of this opportunity to establish a music program for the senior care centers in Ojai. I have witnessed the benefits of what this type of program can provide for our seniors – the fun and joy that playing music brought to our residents was truly amazing. From residents who are alert, to those who are lower functioning; from residents who are physically disabled, to non-English speaking residents, everyone was able to take part. The stimulation of sound, vibrations, and movement affected every person that was there. This would truly be a benefit to our community to expand on.

When planning the workshops, it quickly became apparent that BRAVO!‘s existing instruments – trombones, trumpets, violins, chimes, etc – were not well-suited to those with limited movement. Instruments for UPBEAT were specially chosen to enable those with a range of movement abilities to participate. These include shakers and bells and struck sound instruments (drums, boom whackers). Instrument purchases for UPBEAT were made possible by the generous support of the Ojai Festivals Womens Committee, the Ojai Rotary Club and the City of Ojai Arts Commission.

Upbeat workshops are currently being scheduled at the hospital, as well as additional senior resident facilities throughout the valley. We’ll be posting photos and updates throughout the winter and spring. Special thanks to Kristina and all the facility administrators in the valley for helping to make Upbeat a success.

Learn more about the BRAVO! music education program >>

All photos by Fred Rothenberg


One of BRAVO!‘s larger programs is its Education Through Music (ETM) residencies. ETM’s weekly workshops integrate vocal music lessons with critical thinking games to teach the fundamentals of pitch and rhythm and build interpersonal skills. In addition to its musical benefits, ETM builds the acquisition of language and movement to enhance the imagination and stabilization of children. Originally offered to only K-1 students, BRAVO! currently provides ETM to K-2  classrooms throughout the Ojai Valley.

Local musipreferredcian and BRAVO! artist in residence Laura Walter has taught ETM for several years, working with students and adults of all ages, utilizing the experience of interactive play to develop motivation and promote community building and conflict resolution skills. Recently, she’s used her work to conduct studies in topics that range from symbolic functioning in math and language systems, to the needs of typical and non-typical learners, entitlement, addiction, effects of domestic violence and abuse, and peer orientation.

As an ETM educator, Laura works with teachers and children to promote, intelligence, attention, literacy, emotional stability and beauty through the aesthetic experience. Through the use of songs and musical games, students learn to think critically, cooperate with one another, communicate their emotions, and strengthen their interpersonal relationships. One ETM activity has students match songs they know with their clapped rhythm:

Laura recently returned from four weeks in Israel where she studied the effects of trauma on childhood, society, and the role of art and beauty in healing conflict. The power of ETM is clear – as Laura writes, “Children in ETM classes create beauty, which leads to empathy and hope, embracing the important contribution of arts education. Teachers often say, ‘ETM has taught these children to be kind and respectful by creating beautiful music with each other.” ETM’s benefits may not always be measured quantitatively, but its effect on students – and all who are involved – remains incredibly profound. BRAVO! and the Festival have been grateful for Laura’s expertise throughout the years and her steadfast advocacy of ETM throughout the country.

About Laura Walter:
Laura Walter received a Master of Music degree in Flute Performance from the University of Kentucky. She studied flute with various members of the Cincinnati Symphony, New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony.  She serves on the faculty of Westmont College and also performs with the Santa Barbara Symphony, Opera Santa Barbara, as well as local choral societies. Laura has performed with several orchestras across the country, is active as a clinician and competition adjudicator, and has established and conducted flute choirs at colleges and festivals across the country.

Alry Publications has published several of her flute choir arrangements and an etude book based on orchestral excerpts.  She has performed with many musicians including Henry Mancini, Roger Sessions, Peter Schickele, Doc Severinsen, Steve Allen and Yanni. She has recorded on 12 different CD’s ranging from classical to Gospel music.

Laura is also an accomplished watercolorist and her paintings have won numerous awards at shows and galleries in Ventura and Santa Barbara. How color interacts on paper is similar to how the sounds of the orchestra instruments combine to create beauty. Some of the most interesting aspects in the process of creating visual art are similar to the process of creating music: responding to what’s happening in the moment, listening very carefully, and finding both the rhythm and the flow in work and play.

Read more about ETM and the Richards Institute >>
See more information on BRAVO! and its programs >>

Back To School at the Festival

The month of September means many things here at the Festival – planning for the next year is starting to get underway, staff have returned from their vacations, summer interns are back to school, and, of course, the BRAVO! music education program is beginning to get underway.

Each year, BRAVO! provides free, integrated music instruction to Ojai’s public school students and those in two nearby Ventura County schools. Students are led in a series of workshops by BRAVO!’s artists-in-residence (local professional musicians). These range from lessons in world music, to k-1 music eduction, to opera. To see a complete list of BRAVO!’s offerings, click here. Education Through Music (ETM) workshops will start shortly in K-1 classrooms throughout the district…stay tuned for photos and updates!

We’re excited to expand BRAVO!’s community percussion workshops this year to include Ojai’s older citizens. We’re bringing percussion instruments and special group activities to Ojai’s assisted living and continuing care facilities so that Ojai residents of all ages can benefit from participating in music making. We would like to recognize the City of Ojai Arts Commission and the Ojai Rotary Club for their generous support of the community percussion workshops.

If you’re here in Ojai, you’ll know that Ojai Day is just around the corner. Come by our Instrument Petting Zoo on October 19th and try out a new instrument  – or reconnect with an old one!

After having a great time interning for the 2012 Ojai Music Festival, I of course applied again to be a marketing intern for the 67th Ojai Music Festival with Mark Morris as the Music Director.  I expected to do more or less of the same work as I did last year, since I was interning with the same department, under the same Marketing Director Gina Gutierrez. While 2012 was a great experience, I enjoyed my 2013 experience even more because of the even more diverse tasks I got to take on, as well as seeing old friends from the 2012 Festival.

One of the highlights of my Festival experience was working with Doug McLennan from and Suzi Steffen, our Social Media Coordinator to work on the live stream concerts. OMF now provides live streams of every Libbey Bowl concert, with interviews during intermissions, so I helped Doug manage the live streams before, during and after concerts. It was great to be able to sit through every concert and watch insightful interviews between Doug and special guests.  It’s also quite amazing to watch Suzi at work, live-tweeting every event she possibly can during the Festival. If you haven’t checked out our Twitter page, you definitely should.

Get Fit!Mark Morris was the Music Director this year, bringing a lot of energy and dance to the Festival. One very fun community event that happened this year because of him was “Get Fit! With MMDG,” a one-hour morning fitness class taught by two energetic,fun MMDG dancers. The marketing team was put in charge of producing this event, which essentially meant that we had to be there and make sure everything ran smoothly.  It was very fun to see an extremely successful event take place (around 60 people came each morning!).

Aside from doing my job every day, it was fun and interesting to watch all of the other interns perform their duties.  The production interns were constantly running around, driving artists, making name tags, and seemed to leave the Festival with a slightly frenetic but content disposition.  The box office interns dealt with a very wide variety of people, and never failed to deliver some sort of crazy story about a patron at the end of the day. The special events intern was constantly moving to every special event the Festival had, making sure things were running smoothly and patrons were happy. Everybody had their own specific job, but worked together on some projects to ensure the success of the Festival.

It was very fun to come back to familiar faces and meet new ones this year. We have intern dinners and daily intern meetings to see where everyone is at, which adds to the sense of community. It was a wonderful three weeks of friendly faces, beautiful Ojai, and, of course, great music. Ojai Music Festival throws its interns into the storm of a music festival, while giving you all the support you need. It’s a great experience, and I hope to come back next year.

Want to learn more about the internship program? Check out our internship page, which includes links to the application and brochure.



Judy Vander, Ojai Music Festival Education Committee Member writes about the diverse programs offered as part of BRAVO! – including its new residency ‘Ojai Creates Opera’.

The breadth and variety of the Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO! music education program has garnered wide acclaim from educators, parents and students for its continued resolve to offer  free programs in the Ojai Valley public school system.

One of the Festival’s newest programs for the very youngest is Education Through Music (ETM), which serves students, kindergarten through first grade, in the Ojai Unified School District. This innovative way of teaching and learning music reaches the child through play, song, language, and movement. ETM has been so successful that there are now ongoing tutorial sessions to give ETM training to classroom teachers, funded by the Ojai Rotary Club. Read More


I spent a lot of my childhood living in Ojai and vaguely remember folks at my schools, Mira Monte and Matilija, mentioning the Ojai Music Festival. Murmurs of experimental music during Ojai summers came through my piano teacher, my school choir community, and through some of my parents’ more artistic friends. However, I remained fairly oblivious. The most actual music I heard from the Festival was from distant rehearsals resounding in the park as I stepped into Ojai Ice Cream on a warm June day.  Who knows, maybe Pierre Boulez opened the door for me at the time, and I missed it. Read More

György Ligeti’s fluxus score to ‘Poème Symphonique’ spends little time discussing the performance of the work itself. Instead, he addresses a more pressing matter: acquiring 100 metronomes. Music stores, newspaper advertisements, and Maecenas are some of the sources that Ligeti encourages to bribe with program note recognition etc. If a rich patron were to simply buy Ligeti 100 metronomes, the piece would be “dedicated to him alone.”

When Artistic Director Tom Morris pitched the project to me in 2007, he lowered the cone of silence. “We’ve located the metronomes, but now I need you to assemble a team to set them off at the opening night concert.” Six cardboard boxes of time-keeping devices had just arrived from a performance of ‘Poème Symphonique’ in Austin, Texas. We were armed and ready.

Ten tables with ten metronomes each ringed the bowl at the opening night concert. Pianists Amy Williams and Helena Bugallo gave the signal to my team and the clicking commenced. While the sound of one metronome is regular and percussive, multiplied one hundred times, the result is quite different—imagine rain on a tin roof. But one by one, the upward pendulums froze until the heroic last stand of the final metronome. Beats away from death, the wooden pyramid hypnotized the audience. A long pause was observed when the last click sounded.

View Ligeti’s score here.

Albert Behar is a composer and past intern at the Ojai Music Festival. He is currently running around Paris with an accordion in search of jazz manouche. To find out more about his French alter-ego visit:

Why I Support the BRAVO! Music Education Program Pt. 2

Judy Vander returns as our guest blogger for the second installment of her post on what it is that makes BRAVO! such a special program. Last time, Judy explained the BRAVO’s several unique workshops; this week she introduces a few of the incredible artists make the program so successful.

BRAVO!’s October Metales Concert

Another reason why I’m proud to support the BRAVO! Program is its collection of extraordinary artists who present their own, unique workshops for the students.

Andy Radford, bassoonist, is BRAVO!’s overall Coordinator/Director. He presents his amazing Adopt-a-Musician workshop,  which includes focused listening: learning to recognize the instruments of the orchestra as well as recognize musical patterns.  From his rich background of performing for major movie studios, Andy shows how music underscores and enhances the emotional/expressive aspects of movies.

Andy is joined by three other outstanding musicians—Julie Tumamait, Judy Piazza, and John Zeretzke—who teach different strands of world music. Julie Tumamait, a member of the Chumash tribe, teaches both Chumash songs and Chumash culture to the students. This is an unusual and authentic experience for the students, an opportunity for cross cultural contact and learning that not even many adult Americans have ever had.  Judy Piazza has studied drum music around the world and the songs that go with the drum patterns. She enriches the musical brew for the students in her own wonderful way—teaching songs and rhythmic patterns, along with the history and geography from whatever part of the world the songs and rhythms originate.

John Zeretzke is a master performer of instruments from around the world, and has composed scores for dance and theater. He gives Ojai students demonstrations on flutes from around the world and lectures on the development of instruments.  Most recently, he created the “Flutes Across the World” program for elementary students. In it, he makes flutes from pipes and given each student two flutes to complete by sanding and decorating. One flute is for the Ojai student to keep and  John takes the second flute, which includes a picture of the Ojai student who decorated it, and personally gives it to a student of a third world country. John’s program teaches music, art, and so much more: he teaches the connection between all people, generosity, and altruism.  He has received a United Nations award for this work.

Is there another music education program of this unique quality in California?  In the United States?  Why am I proud to support the BRAVO! programs?  Let me count the ways!

To learn more about BRAVO! click here.

Why I Support the BRAVO! Music Education Program

Judy Vander has been a  BRAVO! Music Education Program volunteer and friend of the Festival for several years. She is our guest blogger this week as she describes just what it is that makes BRAVO! special.

Judy with the BRAVO! Music Van

Why am I proud to support the extraordinary BRAVO! programs?  Let me count the ways…

Let me start with the Education Through Music workshops, an interactive music program for Kindergarten and first graders that teaches basic musical elements through games, songs, and movement. This relatively new program taps into the natural joy of children and infects the lucky person who gets to witness it. It is currently being taught at five elementary schools in Ojai. Moving on to third grade, Ojai students are all visited by the Music Van, which brings instruments from all the sections of the orchestra to the schools so that every student has a chance to play on every instrument. Logically, this program precedes the fourth grade when students have the chance to pick an instrument of their choice to learn and can join band programs. BRAVO! also funds a special string program where students are given a violin to use for as long as they are part of an instrumental program.

Every year BRAVO! organizes two concerts for the 5th-6th graders, to show them the wonderful musical opportunities that will open up to them when they move on up to Matilija Middle School and Nordhoff High School. The first of these is the IMAGINE concert. Student musical groups from these upper level schools perform and set an inspiring example for the elementary student audience. The second concert, Sing! focuses on vocal music. Prior to the concert, all 6th graders learn two songs. The concert itself features performances by the Matilija and Nordhoff choirs, as well as a set by professional singers. Near the end of the concert, the student audience is thrilled as the choir members come off the stage, mixing with them as they all sing together the two songs that they all had learned in preparation for the concert . . .

To learn more about BRAVO! click here. Look for Part Two of Judy’s blog coming soon!