Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris – Remembering Steven Stucky


We are all terribly saddened with the news of Steve Stucky’s untimely death Sunday, after a virulent battle with cancer over the last few months.

Steve is of course most well known to the Ojai community for The Classical Style, his comic opera written with librettist Jeremy Denk for the 2014 festival and premiered to critical acclaim. Finding the right composer to set Jeremy’s somewhat unbelievable idea for an opera about musicology was at first a daunting task, but Steve brought exactly the right blend of ingenious new music, reverence for past music (the story after all is about Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven), and a sublime sense of emotional meaning to the story through his music. Watching the creative partnership between them over the two years of project development was an inspiration and joy.

What I remember most was Steve’s infectious and uncontrollable sense of humor. During those long working rehearsals for The Classical Style, he would suddenly burst into laughter at one of Jeremy’s wry turns of phrase, and just as easily chuckle at his own musical jokes imbedded in the score. But Steve was also a deeply caring and emotional man who didn’t hide tears at the touching entrance of Robert Schumann at the end of the opera signaling both the end of the classical style and the birth of the romantic era.

Steve was a great composer, a marvelous musician, and above all a superior human being. He was well known to Southern California audiences through his long association with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. I got to know him through his work as board chair of the American Music Center and subsequently New Music USA. He was always a delight to be with.

Our hearts go out to his wife, Kristen, and all the members of his family, and we are thankful for his indelible role in the Ojai Festival. We still had so much more to do together.

Photo: Steven Stucky at the 2014 Festival premiere of The Classical Style (Timothy Norris)

Vijay Iyer: 71st Festival, June 8 to 11, 2017
Esa-Pekka Salonen: 72nd Festival, June 7 to 10, 2018
Barbara Hannigan: 73rd Festival, June 6 to 9, 2019
Patricia Kopatchinskaja: 74th Festival, June 11 to 14, 2020
Mitsuko Uchida: 75th Festival, June 10 to 13, 2021

“Ojai prides itself on the wide-ranging breadth and depth of its music directors – from conductors, composers, instrumentalists, choreographers, and theater directors to established musical personalities and emerging artists of the future. The fundamental requirements to serve as a music director are to be a serious and curious musical artist of unquestioned excellence and to fully embrace a sense of adventure. He or she must be someone whose musical predilections will surprise, provoke, and delight. Soprano/conductor Barbara Hannigan, violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and pianist Mitsuko Uchida fulfill these requirements – and along with Peter Sellars, Vijay Iyer, and Esa-Pekka Salonen – will bring to the Ojai Music Festival a truly distinctive and distinguished artistic arc through its 75th anniversary in 2021.”
– Thomas W. Morris, Artistic Director

(FEBRUARY 9, 2016) — As the Ojai Music Festival anticipates the upcoming 70th Festival (June 9-12, 2016) with Music Director Peter Sellars, Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris announces the artists who will serve as Music Directors through the Festival’s 75th anniversary in 2021. Following previously announced future music directors Vijay Iyer (June 8-11, 2017) and Esa-Pekka Salonen (June 7-10, 2018), soprano/conductor Barbara Hannigan will be the 2019 music director (June 6-9), violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja in 2020 (June 11-14) and pianist Mitsuko Uchida in 2021 (June 10-13). Since the late 1940’s, the Ojai Music Festival’s tradition has been to welcome a new Music Director each year to ensure vitality and diversity in programming across Festivals. 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

Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris – Remembering Our Dear Friend Pierre Boulez


Dear Ojai Festival Friends:

We are all saddened by the news this morning of Pierre Boulez’s death at the age of 90. He passed away peacefully and quietly in his sleep last night.

That Pierre was one of the seminal thinkers and musical intellects of our time goes without saying, his legacy as a composer is unquestioned, and his setting of standards as a conductor and programmer are unparalleled.

My deepest thoughts this morning go to Pierre Boulez as friend and mentor. He was relentless in forging close and long-lasting relationships with organizations and individuals with whom he felt the common bond of beliefs and commitment. One of those was the Ojai Music Festival, which he considered as one of his important artistic homes. He holds the record for the most times as music director in the Festival’s history – seven times between 1967 and 2003, spanning over half of the Festival’s history and over half of his life. He had close personal creative relationships with four of the Festival’s artistic directors – Lawrence Morton, Ara Guzelimian, Ernest Fleischmann, and myself, which means his ties to Ojai reach back as far as 1954. I am so proud that we appropriately celebrated his 90th birthday last June.

Knowing and working with Pierre through the years fundamentally influenced my own sense of programming and love of musical adventure. While ill health curtailed his performing and traveling over the last four years, he always expressed, in my frequent visits to him in Baden Baden, a profound interest in what was happening at Ojai, and was always misty-eyed with the recollection of his first visit to Ojai in 1967 in Lawrence Morton’s convertible and of the wall of pungent orange blossom scent as he crested the Upper Ojai Valley. The fact that Ojai thrives today with its fearless embrace of the new, its stellar heritage of innovative artists, and its lively and engaged audiences is a tribute to Boulez’s beliefs, his considerable commitment as a conductor/composer/collaborator, and his deep abiding love of Ojai.

Thank you with all my heart, dear Pierre.

Thomas W. Morris
January 6, 2016

Learn more:
View photos of Pierre from our archives >>
See a timeline of Pierre’s Festivals in Ojai >>

Music Director Peter Sellars Statement on the 2016 Festival



“The Ojai Valley has long been recognized as a rare and beautiful natural site that invites retreat, renewal, and regeneration, from Chumash ceremonial life to Krishnamurti’s legendary talks under the trees. The valley has both a grandeur and a human scale that inspire and allow the deepest human questions to resonate, and create a setting for the most personal search for answers. The magical play of light across the canyon and the heady aroma of orange blossoms bring the senses to life, awaken the mind, and create a profound aura of openness and well-being.

Music incites many of the same thoughts and emotions, with similar immensity and intimacy and awe. The 70th Ojai Music Festival will gather this powerful energy and spirit of inquiry and reflection into a weekend of peak experiences and secret revelations.

KAIJA_SAARIAHO_06web1-smallFor the first time the composer Kaija Saariaho will come to Ojai. We will feature two of her most potent and visionary works. Her new chamber version of The Passion of Simone, a meditation on the life of the courageous French philosopher Simone Weil, written to a wise and humane text by Amin Maalouf, will receive its American premiere with the extraordinary young soprano Julia Bullock. It is a work of startling integrity and permanent challenge in dark times, with a flame of hope that burns brightly and intensely in the darkness. The fierce commitment and brilliance of that flame will be embodied by ICE and Roomful of Teeth, conducted by Joana Carneiro.

Kaija Saariho’s newest operatic creation is a sequence of two Japanese Noh plays in versions by Ezra Pound, entitled Only the Sound Remains. Again Ojai will offer the American premiere. These two plays will be performed in the tradition of Japanese Takigi Noh, outdoors, lightly held in the gentle grasp of a protective arroyo under a radiant early morning sky for Feather Mantle, a play of illumination, transcendence and evanescence, and just before midnight under an intense starlit sky for Always Strong, the harrowing and haunted story of a young warrior’s spirit struggling to return to life on earth.

This year’s festival will have its rituals. Mornings will begin with liberating and exhilarating Sonic Meditations by Pauline Oliveros realized by the glorious and willing musicians of ICE. At mid-day there will be concerts of the kaleidoscopic and more rarely performed chamber works of Kaija Saariaho. The later afternoons will offer music of longing and consolation. Caroline Shaw’s works will be paired with Carla Kihlstedt’s phosphorescent exploration of dream worlds, At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire, and Du Yun’s peeling away the surface of the world in An Empty Garlic. Read More

The Festival is currently accepting applications for its 2016 Internship program. 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. Interns work closely with the staff and production team, providing critical support and gaining invaluable hands-on experience and skills for their future careers.

Click here to learn more and download an application >>


Thank you to everyone who joined us this past weekend for the Holiday Home Look In and Marketplace! We’re so glad you were able to attend and hope to see you next November. Thank you to all the volunteers, musicians, and home owners who helped to make the home tour and marketplace so special. And an extra special thank you to the Ojai Festivals Women’s Committee for all their tireless work to put on such a spectacular event.

Watch Peter Sellar Discuss Plans for 2016

Click on the video to watch 2016 Music Director Peter Sellars preview his plans for next June.

Series tickets are now on sale – to click here to order online or call 805 646 2053 for personal assistance.


Meet The 2015 Holiday Home Look In Designers

Each year the Holiday Home Look In welcomes local designers and florists, each of whom are assigned a home on the tour and tasked with bringing their own vision of décor and the holidays to life. This year, designers Digs Floral and Botanical Designs, Angela’s Flowers, Kitty Bartholomew, and Teri Formanek and Sandy Sylslack will be showcased. And if you haven’t yet purchased your tickets, you can do so online here >>

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2015 Holiday Home Look In Musician Schedule


Oak View Sanctuary
10am – David Henderson, piano
12pm – Fern Barishman, piano and vocal
2pm – Ray Powers, keyboard

Rancho Sunset
10am – Rachel Holdt, vocal and ukelele
11am – Smitty and Julija, piano and vocal
1pm – David Cosby, guitar
3pm – Hatter’s Tea, guitar and vocal

Blue Heron

10am – Ray Sullivan, guitar
12pm – Bonnie Griffin, flute
2pm – Audrey McPherson and Dori Riggs, flute duet Read More

Team Digs At Work


Lynn Malone and the design team at Digs Floral and Botanic Designs in Ojai is thrilled to once again put their talents and imagination to work for the Holiday Home Look In.  New to the tour last year, Digs went all out to create masterful holiday floral designs for a Rancho Matilija home. This year, the Digs design team returns by popular demand, to embellish  Blue Heron, another beautiful home in Rancho Matilija – this time with an array of multicultural holiday decor. When asked which holiday they would like to focus on, Digs’ designers agreed that they are truly inspired by them all. The florals throughout the home will honor several holiday traditions, some of which have roots in other parts of the world. The homeowner’s travels, experiences and interior design aesthetic have also inspired the floral décor.

Once again, Digs designers hope to inspire guests with unique decorating ideas for the upcoming holidays. And, if DIY is not your idea of holiday fun, their designers are always happy to be of assistance. Some of the creations you’ll see on the tour will be available at Digs throughout the Holiday Season.

Purchase tickets to the 19th Holiday Home Look In >>

Learn more about the houses featured on the tour >>

Welcome Back Party with Peter Sellars Photo Gallery

Thank you to everyone who attended our ‘Welcome Back’ party with 2016 Music Director Peter Sellars. It was wonderful to see so many of you again – and to meet a few new faces as well! Special thanks to hosts Fred Fisher and Jennie Prebor for their warm hospitality. Below are a few photos from the event, taken by Louis Almaraz. If you would like a copy of any, email

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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.”

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2016 Festival Update from Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris

Kaija Saariaho, Paris, den 12.05.09 Copyright: Priska Ketterer Luzern

This past week, Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris met with 2016 Music Director Peter Sellars and soprano Julia Bullock as they rehearsed Kaija Saariaho’s La Passion de Simone. He wrote us a brief update on the project, its history, and the plans for Ojai…

Kaija Saariaho’s great work La Passion de Simone was written in 2006 for large symphony orchestra, large chorus and soprano soloist. Its first performances, with Dawn Upshaw, were staged by Peter Sellars in numerous cities around the world. In 2014, Saariaho, as a centerpiece of the Festival Saint-Denis in Paris, made a new version of the piece for an ensemble of nineteen players, a small chorus of four to eight singers, and soprano soloist. The work, conceived as a “Musical Journey in Fifteen Stations”, assumes the form of a contemporary passion play, interpreting the life and thought of the French philosopher Simone Weil. The original libretto by French author Amin Maalouf constitutes the majority of the oratorio’s text, supplemented by spoken fragments from Weil’s work.

Read More

2015 Audience Survey Results

The Festival, a place for experimentation and discovery, looks for feedback from our audience after our time together in June. This year, we sent out an electronic audience survey to 1,013 ticket buyers who attended this past Festival, and we received an overwhelming 40% response. For those who participated, we thank you for making the time to share such thoughtful evaluations about your experience.

As we continue to comb through the results and comments, we would like to share some initial findings. Please see below for responses to our survey. We will keep you posted as additional 2016 Festival details become available, and look forward to welcoming you back to Ojai once again.

In the meantime, and to address one area of concern that was raised by many of you, we will be including more space in next year’s Festival schedule for meals, reflection, and connection. Read More

2016 Music Director Peter Sellars Frames Programming for 70th Festival


The Ojai Music Festival marks its 70th year in 2016 and to curate this milestone, Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris has invited opera and theater director Peter Sellars to serve as Music Director. For the 2016 Festival, Peter Sellars is shaping a program deeply rooted in the cultures of Ojai, starting new traditions and setting out fresh agendas for the 70 years to come. The Festival will take place June 9-12, 2016.

As the 69th Ojai Music Festival opens this week (June 10-14, 2015) with Music Director Steven Schick, the Festival’s 2016 Music Director Peter Sellars shares thoughts on his distinctive approach to programming the Festival Read More

Watch The 2015 Festival Live Stream Videos

If you missed a concert, or want to rewatch a favorite, you can do so with our archived 2015 live stream videos! Use the player below to view a playlist of all the concerts and talks we streamed from the 2015 Festival, or click here to view on YouTube >>





2015 Festival Reviews


The Ojai Music Festival was a colorful and continuous mix of music, conversation, gatherings, and surprises — a total of more than 32 offerings, which added up to one unforgettable Festival.

You can relive the 2015 Festival anytime by watching our archived live streaming concerts, Ojai Talks, and interview intermissions online.

Read excerpts of reviews below or download a pdf version here >>

Feeling the sonic rush at the Ojai Music Festival
Schick did not go so far as to propose compatibility and cohabitation as a festival theme. But by packing the 69th Ojai festival into marathon days of concerts from dawn (and before!) until midnight, he, in fact, turned the five-day festival into a de-facto Davos of musical diplomacy. No model society emerged, but there were helpful hints of how we might proceed.

Los Angeles Times

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Relive the 2015 Festival through our photo gallery

Thank you for joining us for an incredibly memorable week of adventurous music making and community. Relive the moments with our 2015 Festival photo galleries of concerts and scenes from around Libbey Bowl.

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2016 Festival



2016 Music Director Peter Sellars
frames programming for 70th Ojai Music Festival
June 9-12, 2016

The Ojai Music Festival marks its 70th year in 2016 and to curate this milestone, Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris has invited opera and theater director Peter Sellars to serve as Music Director. For the 2016 Festival, Peter Sellars is shaping a program deeply rooted in the cultures of Ojai, starting new traditions and setting out fresh agendas for the 70 years to come. The Festival will take place June 9-12, 2016.

As the 69th Ojai Music Festival opens this week (June 10-14, 2015) with Music Director Steven Schick, the Festival’s 2016 Music Director Peter Sellars shares thoughts on his distinctive approach to programming the Festival:

Read More

Ojai Music Festival and WQXR’s Q2 Music Launch Partnership

Q2_400x400Q2 Music and the Ojai Music Festival are partnering to bring you on-demand audio from past Festivals, as well as a five-part series of festival concert audio hosted by noted choreographer and 2013 Ojai music director Mark Morris.

Listen to episodes from the series, hosted by Mark Morris, below and hear full recordings from the Festival here >>

Read More

Listen to KUSC’s 2015 Festival Preview with Gail Eichenthal & Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris


With only days to go before the Festival begins, get ready by listening to the Festival Preview podcast from KUSC. Featuring host Gail Eichenthal and Festival Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris, learn about the Festival’s very first percussionist Music Director and what he has in store for audiences. Read More

John Luther Adams on “Sila: The Breath of the World”

Besant Hill JLA

John Luther Adams at the 2013 performance of ‘Strange and Sacred Noise’ at Besant Hill School.

Composer John Luther Adams is no stranger to Ojai, with performances of his works in 2012 and 2013, including the ‘Inuksuit‘, featuring musicians placed throughout Libbey Park. Adams returns to Ojai this year for the West Coast Premiere of his new work ‘Sila: The Breath of the World’. Here he discusses the genesis of the piece and the significant differences in pieces written to be performed and heard outdoors.

“Songs are thoughts which are sung out with the breath when people let
themselves be moved by a great force…”
– Orpingalik, a Netsilik elder

In Inuit tradition the spirit that animates all things is sila, the breath of
the world. Sila is the wind and the weather, the forces of nature. But
it’s also something more. Sila is intelligence. It’s consciousness. It’s
our awareness of the world around us, and the world’s awareness of

Over the past four decades most of my music has been inspired by the
outdoors, but heard indoors. With Inuksuit – for nine to ninety-nine
percussionists – I finally composed music intended from the start to be
performed and heard outdoors. In Sila: The Breath of the World, I
continue this exploration with a full orchestral palette. Read More