2021 Music Director John Adams
announces initial programming for its 75th Festival
2021 Festival composers include Samuel Carl Adams, Timo Andres, Dylan Mattingly, Gabriela Ortiz, Rhiannon Giddens, Carlos Simon, and Gabriella Smith
Artists making their Ojai debuts include Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi, pianist Víkingur Ólafsson, Attacca Quartet, violinist Miranda Cuckson, and recorder player Anna Margules; Ojai welcomes the return of pianist/composer Timo Andres and members of the LA Phil New Music Group
Program features the world premiere of Sunt Lacrimae Rerum by Dylan Mattingly along with the west coast premiere of Samuel Carl Adams’ Chamber Concerto
The Festival will offer a free concert for the community by Festival artists alongside Ojai school children in conjunction with its BRAVO education program
To commence 75th anniversary celebrations, the Festival will present a series of summer events in Ojai, around Southern California, and online beginning in June
“The Ojai Music Festival has always done things differently with its special mix of casual manner and provocative programming. Ever since its inception in the days of Stravinsky and Copland it has stood out among music festivals for its celebration of the new. I am honored to return as Music Director, and I am eager to introduce to our audiences a new generation of composers and performers who give a glimpse of what the future of creativity in music will be. Rhiannon Giddens, Víkingur Ólafsson, Carlos Simon, Gabriella Smith, Gabriella Ortiz, and Samuel Adams are just a few among many who will give this year’s Festival a jolt of energy that will resound in the magnificent setting of the Ojai Valley. It will be a treat not to be missed.” – John Adams, 2021 Music Director
(March 18, 2021 – Ojai, California)/Updated 3/18/21, 2:30pm – The Ojai Music Festival today announced plans for the upcoming Festival to take place in person from September 16 to 19, 2021. On behalf of the Board of Directors, Chair Jerry Eberhardt and Artistic & Executive Director Ara Guzelimian shared the decision to move the early summer Festival which was originally scheduled for June 10 to 13, 2021. Music Director John Adams and Ara Guzelimian also announced today initial programming and major artistic collaborators for the upcoming 75th Ojai Music Festival. Every artist planned for the original Festival dates has been able to accommodate the September dates.
Mr. Eberhardt commented, “I am very pleased to share our decision that the clear path for our reunion in Ojai is to hold this year’s Festival in September. We have developed comprehensive health and safety protocols, which we will employ in September when we gather onsite for live musical events. We feel confident that this resolution will best serve our audiences, artists and our Ojai community. On behalf of the Board, I am grateful for our global community’s patience and support, and I simply cannot wait to see you all in Ojai in September for the 75th Festival.”
Mr. Guzelimian added, “I am overjoyed that we will gather once again to hear music in the magical setting of Libbey Bowl. As this 75th milestone year is marked, we look toward Ojai’s future by honoring the Festival’s role as a champion of a new generation of composers and artists. We respond to these immensely challenging times by placing our faith, now more than ever, in this next generation to show us the way forward. John Adams has been unwavering in his desire to focus the 75th Festival on nurturing an environment of exploration and adventure for artists and audiences alike. It is an honor to launch a new era for Ojai alongside such remarkable artists and thinkers.”
John Adams, who is both curator and conductor for the 2021 Festival, focuses on composers of today whose music will be threaded throughout the Festival. Featured composers include Samuel Carl Adams, Timo Andres, Rhiannon Giddens, Dylan Mattingly, Gabriela Ortiz, Gabriella Smith, and Carlos Simon, many of whom will be in residence during the Festival. Mr. Adams will conduct two chamber orchestra concerts that will include works by Debussy and Bach, Gabriella Smith and Carlos Simon, alongside the west coast premiere of Samuel Carl Adams’ Chamber Concerto, featuring violinist Miranda Cuckson.
Making their Ojai debuts are Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi who are creating music that crosses traditions, genres and cultures; Giddens will collaborate in her own works with the Attacca Quartet and as soloist in music of John Adams, conducted by the composer; violinist Miranda Cuckson (who will return with AMOC as the 2022 Music Director) performing works by Kaija Saariaho, Anthony Cheung, Bach, and Dai Fujikura; recorder player Anna Margules will share a solo concert of new music for recorder and electronics from Mexico; Chumash Elder Julie Tumamait will lead a series of events exploring the music, culture and cosmology of the original indigenous peoples of the Ojai Valley; Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson in a solo recital of works by Philip Glass, Bach, John Adams, Debussy, and Rameau; and Grammy-Award winning Attacca Quartet in a concert of music by John Adams, Rhiannon Giddens, Jessie Montgomery, Caroline Shaw, Gabriella Smith, and Paul Wiancko.
The Festival will honor long-standing ties with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with a concert by members of the LA Phil New Music Group featuring the world premiere of the work Sunt Lacrimae Rerum (these are the tears of things) by Dylan Mattingly. Co-commissioned by the Ojai Music Festival and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, Sunt Lacrimae Rerum is scored for two harps and two re-tuned pianos. Mattingly, who composed the piece during the current pandemic, shares “…the music that I felt, the music that exists in the following pages, was ecstatic — music for dancing, the barbaric yawp, a scream of joy.”
Ojai welcomes the return of Timo Andres, an Ojai alum from the 2014 Festival, performing I Still Play, a series of eleven works by such composers as Laurie Anderson, Louis Andriessen, Donnacha Dennehy, Philip Glass, Pat Metheny, Nico Muhly, and Randy Newman. This Ojai recital will mark the first live public performance of the complete cycle, which was commissioned as a tribute to legendary Nonesuch Records President Bob Hurwitz.
The 2021 Festival chamber orchestra will be drawn from freelance artists and ensembles from Southern California and from around the US. Ojai is pleased to rely on this incredibly talented group of musicians, especially at this time when so many in this community are experiencing significant professional disruption caused by the pandemic.
The 75th Festival and future Festivals, will integrate elements of its year-round BRAVO education program. During the Festival, Ojai school children will perform alongside Festival artists in a free community concert. In addition, featured artists and composers will hold free workshops for Ojai public school children leading up to the Festival. As Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival, composer/conductor John Adams follows violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja (2018), soprano/conductor Barbara Hannigan (2019), and Matthias Pintscher (2020). Prior to this 2021 collaboration, Mr. Adams served as Ojai’s Music Director in 1993. Mitsuko Uchida, who was previously announced to lead the 2021 Festival, asked to postpone her appointment because of scheduling conflicts and will return as Music Director for a future Festival.
Following John Adams’ 2021 Festival, American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) will serve as Music Director for the 76th Festival in 2022 (June 9-12), culminating the Festival’s 75th Anniversary year.
For more than seven decades, the Ojai Music Festival has flourished as a creative laboratory by combining a boundless sense of adventure, an expansive musical curiosity, and an atmosphere of relaxed but focused informality. Each year a different Music Director is given the freedom and the resources to imagine four days of musical brainstorming. Ojai’s signature blend of an enchanted setting and an audience voracious in its appetite for challenge and discovery has inspired a distinguished series of musical innovators – from Boulez, Copland, and Stravinsky in its formative years to Dawn Upshaw, Vijay Iyer, and Peter Sellars in recent times – to push artistic boundaries. In announcing the appointments of John Adams and AMOC, the Festival now charts a course for its next chapters under the leadership of Artistic & Executive Director Ara Guzelimian.
Launching the Festival’s 75th Anniversary Celebration
To mark the beginning of its 75th anniversary, the Festival will offer musical activities, in accordance with state guidelines, from June to September, when audiences reunite in Ojai. Musical activities throughout Southern California are being planned, and Ojai will also serve its global community through newly produced online content. Details will be announced in the coming months.
For those observing Yom Kippur, please note that Festival events will begin well after sundown (7:02pm) on September 16. The full Festival calendar will be shared in coming months.
The Festival continues to offer virtual content with its ongoing series of Ojai Talks that have featured 2021 Festival artists and composers, including Gabriela Ortiz, Carlos Simon, violinist Miranda Cuckson, and Timo Andres. Revisit these additional free offerings and “What’s on your Bookshelf” videos with past Festival artists on the website at OjaiFestival.org.
Remote Access to the Ojai Music Festival
The Ojai Music Festival allows the world beyond Ojai’s Libbey Bowl to experience the music and ideas expressed at the Festival through state-of-the art live streaming access during the four-day Festival and later archived at OjaiFestival.org.
COVID-19 Health and Safety Planning
The health and safety of the Festival’s family of artists, audiences and community partners is paramount. To that end, the Ojai Music Festival is working closely with a COVID-safety advisory team of medical advisors, local, regional and state officials, and public health authorities, to adhere to the highest standards of health and safety. Safety-related plans will be released as details are confirmed. Please contact Managing Director Gina Gutierrez with any questions.
Series Passes for 2021 Ojai Music Festival
2021 series subscriptions are available for purchase at OjaiFestival.org, or by reaching the box office at 805 646 2053. All current 2021 subscriptions will be honored during the September dates.
John Adams, 2021 Music Director
Composer, conductor, and creative thinker – John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of music. His works stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes; his stage compositions, many in collaboration with director Peter Sellars, have transformed the genre of contemporary music theatre. Spanning more than three decades, works such as Harmonielehre, Shaker Loops, El Niño and Nixon in China are among the most performed of all contemporary classical music.
As a conductor he has led the world’s major orchestras, programming his own works with a wide variety of repertoire ranging from Beethoven, Mozart and Debussy to Ives, Carter and Ellington. Among his honorary doctorates are those from Yale, Harvard, Northwestern and Cambridge universities and from The Juilliard School. A provocative writer, he is author of the highly acclaimed autobiography Hallelujah Junction and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review. Since 2009 Mr. Adams has been Creative Chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Born and raised in New England, Mr. Adams learned the clarinet from his father and played in marching bands and community orchestras during his formative years. He began composing age ten and his first orchestral pieces were performed while he was still a teenager. In 2017, he celebrated his 70th birthday with festivals of his music in Europe and the US, including special retrospectives at London’s Barbican, Cité de la Musique in Paris, and in Amsterdam, New York and Geneva, among other cities. In 2019 he was the recipient of both Spain’s BBVA ‘Frontiers of Knowledge’ award and Holland’s Erasmus Prize “for notable contributions to European culture, society and social science.”
Conducting highlights in 2019/20 included performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. With the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Mr. Adams made his debut in February 2020, giving the European premiere of his latest piano concerto Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? together with Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson.
Recent recordings include Grammy-nominated albums Doctor Atomic (featuring the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers conducted by Mr. Adams, with Gerald Finley and Julia Bullock) and Scheherazade.2, a dramatic symphony for violin and orchestra written for Leila Josefowicz, as well as Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? (written for and performed by Yuja Wang, together with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel) and the Berliner Philharmoniker’s ‘John Adams Edition’, a box set comprising seven of his works, conducted by Rattle, Dudamel, Petrenko, Gilbert and Adams. The official John Adams website is www.earbox.com.
American Modern Opera Company (AMOC), 2022 Music Director (June 9-12, 2022)
Culminating the Festival’s 75th anniversary year, Ojai’s 2022 Music Director will be American Modern Opera Company (AMOC). As described by The Boston Globe, AMOC is “a creative incubator par excellence . . . where the boundaries between disciplines go to die.” A collective of some of the most creative, forward-thinking artists, AMOC is led by its Artistic Directors composer/conductor Matthew Aucoin and director/choreographer Zack Winokur collaborating with Core Ensemble members Jonny Allen (percussion), Paul Appleby (tenor), Doug Balliett (double bass/composer), Julia Bullock (soprano), Jay Campbell (cello), Anthony Roth Costanzo (countertenor), Miranda Cuckson (violin/viola), Julia Eichten (dancer/choreographer), Emi Ferguson (flute), Keir GoGwilt (violin/writer), Conor Hanick (piano), Coleman Itzkoff (cello), Or Schraiber (dancer/choreographer), Bobbi Jene Smith (dancer/choreographer), and Davóne Tines (bass-baritone).
In addition to 2021 Festival artist Miranda Cuckson, Julia Bullock, Davóne Tines, and Jay Campbell will make a welcome return to Ojai, having participated memorably in past Festivals. Prior to AMOC, Ojai has welcomed only two ensembles as Music Director: Emerson String Quartet in 2002 and Eighth Blackbird in 2009. Initial details of AMOC’s 2022 Festival will be announced in the summer of 2021.
Ara Guzelimian, Artistic & Executive Director
Ara Guzelimian is Artistic & Executive Director of the Ojai Music Festival, beginning in that position in July 2020. The appointment culminates many years of association with the Festival, including tenures as director of the Ojai Talks at the Festival and as Artistic Director 1992-97.
Ara Guzelimian stepped down as Provost and Dean of the Juilliard School in New York City in June 2020, having served in that position since 2007. At Juilliard, he worked closely with the President in overseeing the faculty, curriculum and artistic planning of the distinguished performing arts conservatory in all three of its divisions – dance, drama and music. He continues at Juilliard as Special Advisor, Office of the President.
Prior to the Juilliard appointment, he was Senior Director and Artistic Advisor of Carnegie Hall from 1998 to 2006. Mr. Guzelimian currently serves as Artistic Consultant for the Marlboro Music Festival and School in Vermont. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Aga Khan Music Awards, the Artistic Committee of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust in London, and a Board member of the Amphion and Pacific Harmony Foundations. He is also a member of the Music Visiting Committee of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City.
Previously, Ara Guzelimian held the position of Artistic Administrator of the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colorado and he was long associated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the beginning of his career, first as producer for the Orchestra’s national radio broadcasts and, subsequently, as Artistic Administrator.
Mr. Guzelimian is editor of Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (Pantheon Books, 2002), a collection of dialogues between Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said. In September 2003, Mr. Guzelimian was awarded the title Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for his contributions to French music and culture.
The Ojai Music Festival
The Ojai Music Festival represents an ideal of adventurous, open-minded and open-hearted programming in the most beautiful and welcoming of settings, with audiences and artists to match its aspirations. As its 75th anniversary approaches, the Festival remains a haven for thought-provoking musical experiences, bringing together innovative artists and curious audiences in an intimate, idyllic outdoor setting. Each Festival’s narrative is guided by a different music director, whose distinctive perspectives shapes programming ensuring energized festivals year after year.
Throughout each year, the Ojai Music Festival contributes to Southern California’s cultural landscape with in-person and online Festival related programming as well as robust educational offerings that serve thousands of public school students and seniors. The organization’s apex is the world renowned four-day Festival which takes place in early June in Ojai, a breathtaking valley only 75 miles from Los Angeles, that transforms into a platform for the fresh and unexpected. During the immersive experience, a mingling of the most curious take part in concerts, symposia, free community events, and social gatherings. Considered a highlight of the international music summer season, Ojai welcomes 7,000 patrons during the intimate Festival weekend and reaches 35 times more audiences worldwide through live and on-demand streaming of concerts and discussions.
Since its founding in 1947, the Ojai Music Festival has presented broad-ranging programs in unusual ways with an eclectic mix of new and rarely performed music, as well as refreshing juxtapositions of musical styles. Through its signature structure of the Artistic Director appointing an annual Music Director, Ojai has presented a “who’s who” of music including Vijay Iyer, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, and Barbara Hannigan in recent years and, throughout its history, featured artists have included Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, 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. Following the cancelled 74th Festival (June 11–14, 2020) with conductor and composer Matthias Pintscher, the Festival’s future with Artistic Director Ara Guzelimian begins in partnership with Ojai’s next music directors: composer/conductor John Adams as Music Director for the 75th Festival (June 10 to 13, 2021) and AMOC (American Modern Opera Company) as Music Director for the 76th Festival (June 9 to 12, 2022).