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2013 Music Director and noted American choreographer Mark Morris discusses his creative process, his relationship with music, and a few of his projects.
Just before the new year, influential music critic Alex Ross released several end of year lists. He named the Festival’s own Thomas Morris as one of the Persons of the Year, and released his list of the greatest performances of 2011. One of the selected highlights was the performance of John Luther Adams’ “Inuksuit” at the Park Avenue Armory in New York. Written for Steve Schick, Inuksuit–the title is derived from the stone cairns used by the indigenous peoples of the Arctic–is an arresting piece for 9-99 percussion performers who are located throughout a large space (it was originally intended to be performed outdoors), allowing audience members to remain stationary or to move through the performers at will. Watch excerpts from the Armory performance.
Lucky for us, we don’t have to travel to New York to witness Inuksuit. The 2012 Festival will kick off with the piece’s West Coast premiere on Thursday Evening at 5pm. The premiere will be a free community performance featuring 48 percussionists led by Steven Schick, including professional musicians, music students from Southern California universities and colleges, and local musicians from Ojai. They will be placed throughout Libbey Park and Bowl to create a truly unique, interactive musical experience.
Luther Adams is no stranger to such intersections and interactions between space and sound. Described by the New Yorker as “one of the most original musical thinkers of the 21st century,” his works take the vast natural landscapes and the indigenous cultures of his adopted Alaska as their inspiration. Spurred by his deep interest in environmental conservation, Luther Adams’ compositions create a bridge between human experience and the natural world, bringing audiences greater awareness and a heightened connection with nature. Many of his works take their material directly from nature itself. In The Place Where You Go To Listen, for instance, Luther Adams used seismological readings and geophysical data in composing.
In many ways Luther Adams’ compositions are a perfect fit for the outdoor setting of Libbey Bowl, and the 2012 Festival will feature several of his works. After Inuksuit on Thursday, the evening concert will also feature Red Arc/Blue Veil, performed by Marc-André Hamelin and Steve Schick. Luther Adams’ work returns on Sunday night, where Leif Ove Andsnes will join Hamelin to perform Dark Waves. Click here to listen to a preview.
This year’s Festival is promising to be a truly unique intersection of music, place, and idea. If you have not yet purchased your tickets for this year’s Festival, you can do so online, or by calling 805.646.2053.
For more information on John Luther Adams and to read his writing on music, composition, and the environment, visit his website.
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.
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: http://accordion.albertbehar.com
This week mezzo-soprano and 2012 Festival artist Christianne Stotijn will be performing Mahler 2 and 3 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel, as part of the Phil’s month-long Mahler Project. Delft-born Stotijn is known throughout the world for her passionate and nuanced interpretations of lieder. Here are five things we’ve learned about Stotijn in preparation for her arrival in Ojai:
– She’s not only a singer, but an accomplished violinist as well.
– She is the recipient of several awards, including the ECHO Rising Stars Award (2005/2006) and the Nederlands Muziekprijs (2008). In 2007, she was selected as a BBC New Generation Artist and her recording of Tchaikovsky songs with pianist Julius Drake won a BBC Music Magazine award.
– Stotijn has performed with leading orchestras throughout the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Orchestre National de France, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and now, the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
– She has appeared in major roles with the Paris Opera, the Royal Opera House in Convent Garden, the Nederlandse Opera and the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels.
– BBC Music Magazine hails her as “that artist in a thousand whose personality shines through in everything she does.”
From what we’ve learned, Stotijn is an artist who is not to be missed and we’re excited to welcome her to Ojai in June. You can catch Stotijn in Ojai throughout the Festival weekend, where she will be performing works by Shostakovich, Wagner, and William Bolcolm, among others. Click here to see her concerts and to buy tickets to the 2012 Festival.
And if you can’t wait until June, here’s a little behind-the-scenes YouTube video to tide you over: Christianne Stotijn Recording Schubert, Berg, Wolf
Learn more about Christianne Stotijn at her website.
2012 Music Director Leif Ove Andsnes began his U.S. tour last week stopping in Boston to perform with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Boston Globe music critic Jeremy Eichler described the performance in his review — “Beethoven’s First Piano Concerto with soloist Leif Ove Andsnes. This excellent Norwegian pianist plays with a rare blend of fluidity and control, and his Beethoven last night grew more daring and boldly profiled as the work progressed, ending with a finale that was irresistible.”
Happy New Year! January is a time when most of us take stock on our success last year and how we want to improve ourselves going forward. For the Festival, January is the time when the staff really starts to feel the clock ticking very quickly toward June and all of the exponential number of details that need to be addressed (upcoming gala, brochures, annual fund appeals, program book notes, corporate sponsorships, education concert, and did I mention fundraising?).
However, January is also the time when we typically implement new systems we have been developing since the last Festival ended. This week, we are implementing our new financial software, Financial Edge, that links directly to our ticketing and fundraising software. This should allow us to streamline our data entry, improve our reporting and analytical capabilities, and reduce the amount of paper forms we need to use. Like the previous two software modules, the Financial Edge installation is funded by a generous Arts Regional Initiative grant from the James Irvine Foundation to improve our Financial Sustainability with better tools. Needless to say, we are both excited and a bit nervous for such a big change. It is important for us to implement this change now before the upcoming wave of single ticket sales (if you haven’t bought your subscription yet—it is best to do it this month before the single tickets go on sale!) and expense checks related to the Festival that start going out in May.
This is just one of a few new “resolutions” for us—one which most of you would never know about (or maybe even care about!), but it should have a big benefit to helping the Ojai Music Festival operate with greater efficiency and provide us with more powerful data needed to navigate a growing Festival through a rapidly changing landscape. Here’s to better bean counting!
In doing our semi-annual office clean-out, we discovered several lost (and dusty!) treasures…including this seating chart from 2006:
If this looks a long way off from the receipts that you receive today, it’s true. Way back before we had a computer-based ticketing system, Festival ticket buyers were handwritten into a paper seating chart—one chart for each concert during Festival weekend. This chart is from the 2006 Saturday Morning concert. Seats that are X’d off are series subscriber seats, while single ticket buyers have been written in between. You can also see the obstructed view seats that were blocked off and the multiple layers of white-out that we had to use when making corrections in the days leading up to the Festival. In the words of Charles Dickens, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
This was an inherited system from Betty Izant, who was the Festival’s first administrator during Lawrence Morton’s tenure as Artistic Director. Betty had an almost photographic memory for Festival-goers and could remember their names exact seats with incredible precision. Back then, records were meticulously kept on index cards and updated by hand with new information each year.
Needless to say, things are much easier now. All seating information is stored in our computer system and ticket buyers can even purchase seats online (something almost unheard of only five years ago!). The one thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the care and attention that we give when seating patrons for each year’s Festival.The seating for this year’s 2012 Festival will be especially interesting, as we’re already close to selling out the AA and A sections of Libbey Bowl. If you haven’t yet bought your tickets, you can do so online here or by calling me in the Box Office at (805) 646-2053.
The Festival’s 2013 Music Director Mark Morris received high praise from the Los Angeles Times for the revival of Morris’ two-act masterwork, “L’Allegro, Il Penseroso, ed il Moderato, ” described as both classic and innovative. The production was presented as a collaboration between last May by the Music Center and the LA Opera.
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.
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.
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.
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!
If you spend any time contemplating directions in contemporary classical music, not to say designing programs full of it, or selling tickets to said programs, no matter how adventurous the vast majority of your audience may be, you almost invariably eventually run into the response, “I just don’t get it.” This is often a kind of mask for “I just really don’t like it,” or worse. In his book, Fear of Music, David stubbs explores why people are drawn to the visual experimentations of Rothko, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into affection for Stockhausen or Cage. NPR’s excellent program, To the Best of our Knowledge just conducted a fascinating interview with Mr. Stubbs. You can hear the whole interview here.