2022 Ojai Festival Updates

2022 Music Director AMOC and Artistic Director Ara Guzelimian Share Updates for the 76th Ojai Music Festival: June 9 to 12, 2022
Festival programming will include nine world premieres:
  • Family Dinner, a cycle of new mini-concertos by Matthew Aucoin, featuring the entire AMOC ensemble, including Davóne Tines, Emi Ferguson, Doug Balliett, and Jonny Allen 
  • the echoing of tenses, a newly commissioned song cycle by Anthony Cheung, setting poems by Asian-American poets including Arthur Sze, Monica Youn, Jenny Xie, and Ocean Vuong, and featuring Paul Appleby, Miranda Cuckson, and Cheung himself as pianist
  • A new production of Olivier Messiaen’s song cycle Harawi featuring soprano Julia Bullock and pianist Conor Hanick, choreographed and danced by Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber, and directed by Zack Winokur
  • Open Rehearsal, a new collaborative dance-theater work directed by Bobbi Jene Smith featuring AMOC artists and guests Vinson Fraley, Jonathan Fredrickson, Jesse Kovarsky, Yiannis Logothetis, and Mouna Soualem
  • How to Fall Apart, a music-dance piece newly commissioned by AMOC, composed by Carolyn Chen in collaboration with Jay Campbell, Julia Eichten, Keir GoGwilt, Or Schraiber and guests Yiannis Logothetis and Matilda Sakamoto
  • The Cello Player, a music-dance piece created by AMOC members Or Schraiber, Coleman Itzkoff, Bobbi Jene Smith, and guest collaborator Yiannis Logothetis
  • A musical-poetic meditation reflecting on displacement and belonging, A Passageway Between Shores, which weaves together a tapestry of original compositions by poet Divya Victor, composer Carolyn Chen and violinist Keir GoGwilt alongside Irish, Scottish and Tamil tunes
  • Free community offerings: Dance in the Park, featuring the dance duo Julia Eichten and Bret Easterling, which celebrates tenderness, togetherness, and fierce joy. On Sunday afternoon, Rome is Falling by composer Doug Balliett will present a high-energy new telling where song, spoken word, and driving music come together to contextualize the action, complete with audience engagement and the performance of members of a local children’s choir
Additional concert performances will include EASTMAN, a multi-dimensional performance piece, reflecting on Julius Eastman’s art and the larger context of his life, creativity, and humanity. Other programs will range from works of Vivaldi and Bach to Cassandra Miller, Reiko Fueting, and Hans Otte in a special performance of The Book of Sounds. Musical guest artists will include the early-music ensemble Ruckus, cellist Seth Parker Woods, composer/pianist Anthony Cheung, clarinetist Gleb Kanasevich, violist Carrie Frey, and percussionist Mari Yoshinaga

“We are thrilled for audiences to meet AMOC and our formidable guest collaborators as creators and performers. This Festival, with its numerous world premieres, including six new theatrical productions, is a loving portrait of this moment in time, full of work that is based on our artists’ own experiences. As we climb out of this pandemic and meet each other in a moment when many of us still feel a lingering fear of contact with others, we believe it’s more important now than ever to find intimacy again, to gather together through rituals of performance. And we can’t imagine a more transcendent place to do that than at Ojai.” — Zack Winokur, Artistic Director of AMOC, 2022 Music Director

OJAI, California — UPDATED March 22, 2022 — The 76th Ojai Music Festival, June 9 to 12, 2022, welcomes as Music Director the discipline-colliding collective AMOC (American Modern Opera Company), which represents a new generation of artists working together in creation and performance. Ojai’s Music Director AMOC comprises 17 of the most adventurous singers, dancers, instrumentalists, choreographers, and composers at work today in music and dance.

For the 2022 Festival, AMOC will serve as the first-ever multi-disciplinary collective to hold the position of Music Director in the Festival’s 75-year history. AMOC has been described by The Boston Globe as “a creative incubator par excellence” and Peter Sellars in The New Yorker as “not just the future of opera but the future of everything.”  An ensemble of some of the most creative, forward-thinking artists working between tradition and experimentation, AMOC was co-founded by composer/conductor Matthew Aucoin and director/choreographer Zack Winokur in 2017 and includes core 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/scholar), Conor Hanick (piano), Coleman Itzkoff (cello), Or Schraiber (dancer/choreographer), Bobbi Jene Smith (dancer/choreographer), and Davóne Tines (bass-baritone). AMOC personnel includes Jennifer Chen (managing director), Cath Brittan (producer), and Mary McGowan (company manager). Julia Bullock, Jay Campbell, Miranda Cuckson, Emi Ferguson, and Davóne Tines will all make welcome returns to Ojai, having participated in past Ojai Festivals.

Ojai Festival’s Artistic and Executive Director Ara Guzelimian commented, “As we mark the 75th anniversary of the Festival’s founding in 1947, we celebrate the spirit of Ojai which has always led the way to new and unexpected horizons, a spirit embodied in the work of AMOC. This brilliant assembly is representative of a new generation of artists – in their fearless melding of disciplines, in their spirit of collaboration as a central artistic premise, and their collective commitment to creation as well as performance. Together, they have produced some of the most exciting work to emerge in recent years. Their music directorship at Ojai is the first curatorial project that involves every single member of AMOC, and it has been an exhilarating process to devise these programs together. I happily anticipate a Festival full of joyous discovery and adventure.”

Programming for the 2022 Festival will include a premiere performance of AMOC’s staging of Olivier Messiaen’s deeply affecting song cycle Harawi for soprano and piano. In addition to Julia Bullock and Conor Hanick’s performance of this sweeping work, this semi-staged production breaks open Messiaen’s musical explorations of love and death into a newly physicalized and theatrical dimension through the choreographic work of Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber, directed by Zack Winokur. Harawi, written in 1945, is based on an Andean love song genre of the same name, with texts by Messiaen and incorporating the Quechua language.

The world premiere of Family Dinner, commissioned by the Ojai Festival, anchors the Saturday evening slot of the 2022 Festival. Family Dinner is a cycle of mini-concertos by Matthew Aucoin, each movement of which spotlights a different member of AMOC. The piece will also feature spoken “toasts” delivered both by AMOC artists and special guests.

AMOC premieres a new program conceived by Keir GoGwilt, A Passageway Between Shores, a musical-poetic meditation reflecting on displacement and belonging, and featuring original work by poet Divya Victor, composer Carolyn Chen and GoGwilt.  Melding this original music with traditional songs and familiar refrains, A Passageway Between Shores includes Irish, Scottish and Tamil music.

The Festival will present the premiere of LA-based composer Carolyn Chen’s How to Fall Apart, a newly-AMOC-commissioned one-hour work integrating text, gesture, and music. This will be a first-time collaboration between Chen and AMOC, and will feature AMOC members Jay Campbell, Julia Eichten, Keir GoGwilt, and guest collaborators Yiannis Logothetis and Matilda Sakamoto.

A new full-length collaborative dance work created especially for the Ojai Festival by AMOC member and choreographer Bobbi Jene Smith, Open Rehearsal, evolves and adapts parts of Smith’s most recent film, Broken Theater, which was developed and shot at Mass MoCA and La MaMa. The piece explores themes of power, love, and trust through the theatrics of rehearsal and will feature music by Schubert, Bach, Connie Converse, and Pete Seeger.

The Cello Player, another new collaborative piece, will receive its first performance at Ojai. Created by Or Schraiber, Yiannis Logothetis, Coleman Itzkoff, and Bobbi Jene Smith, The Cello Player is a dance-music piece excavating the complexity of ancient relationships: the tortured conception of friendship as a messy amalgam of love, hatred, insecurity, and neediness.

Rounding out the world premieres in Ojai will be an Ojai Festival-commissioned song cycle, the echoing of tenses, by Anthony Cheung. The piece sets poems by Asian-American writers interconnected by the larger theme of memory, made complicated by the circumstances and tensions of cultural and personal identity, family, migration, loss, and reflection. The various poems by Arthur Sze, Monica Youn, Jenny Xie, Ocean Vuong, and others will be sung, spoken, and interwoven throughout. The work features Paul Appleby, Miranda Cuckson, and Cheung himself as pianist.

In addition to a rich offering of AMOC’s newest productions, the 2022 Festival will include concert events in Libbey Bowl, with a kick-off concert on Thursday evening presenting an epic musical marathon that will feature AMOC’s core members. This wide-ranging program will include music by Kate Soper, Michael Hersch, Celeste Oram, Orlando Gibbons, Matthew Aucoin, Iannis Xenakis, Bob Dylan, Frederic Rzewski, and Eric Wubbels.

Bookending the four-day event on Sunday evening, AMOC will bring the 2022 Festival to a close with a joyful, high-spirited program that brings together every one of the Festival’s artists, in every discipline, for a grand finale and communal catharsis. The program will feature a broad array of Baroque music featuring countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and Ruckus, and the Festival will conclude with the entire company performing Julius Eastman’s jubilant, mesmerizing Stay On It.

Additional musical highlights of the four-day Festival will include EASTMAN, a multi-dimensional performance piece, reflecting the performers’ consideration of Julius Eastman’s art and the larger context of his life, creativity, and humanity; a rare performance of the complete epic solo piano work The Book of Sounds by pioneering German composer and pianist Hans Otte played by Conor Hanick; and a program titled About Bach, which pairs works of Bach with contemporary reflections on his music by Cassandra Miller and Reiko Fueting.

The Festival offers its first performance of a work by one of Southern California’s most vital and distinctive musical voices, Andrew McIntosh. McIntosh’s Little Jimmy was inspired by a visit the composer made to a backpackers’ camp called Little Jimmy, located on Mt. Islip in the Angeles National Forest.  Little Jimmy, performed by pianists Conor Hanick and Matthew Aucoin and percussionists Jonny Allen and Mari Yoshinaga, is programmed alongside Messiaen’s Harawi.

Making their Ojai Festival debuts will be Ruckus, a “shapeshifting” Baroque early music band comprising some of today’s leading soloists of Baroque repertoire; musicians Carrie Frey, Gleb Kanasevich, Seth Parker Woods, and Mari Yoshinaga; and artistic collaborators in the multi-disciplinary works including Bret Easterling, Vinson Fraley, Jonathan Fredrickson, Jesse Kovarsky, Yiannis Logothetis, Matilda Sakamoto, and Mouna Soualem.

During the four days of the Festival, free community activities will occur in Libbey Park and throughout Ojai, as well as ongoing integration of the Festival’s year-round BRAVO music education program in the public schools.

On Sunday, June 12, all are invited to two free events receiving their world premieres in Libbey Park.  The first, Dance in the Park, features the dance duo Julia Eichten and Bret Easterling, celebrating  tenderness, togetherness, and fierce joy. On Sunday afternoon, Rome is Falling is a high-energy new telling where song, spoken word, and driving music come together to contextualize the action with audience engagement and the performance of a local children’s choir. The new work by AMOC member Doug Balliett features the composer, Coleman Itzkoff, Davóne Tines, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Jonny Allen, Keir Gogwilt, Emi Ferguson, Julia Bullock, Paul Appleby, Matthew Aucoin, and Ruckus.

The Ojai Music Festival lives beyond the flagship four-day festival in June, allowing further engagement with audiences worldwide. Free offerings include the Festival’s state-of-the-art live streaming and archived library of concerts, Virtual Ojai Talks with featured 2022 Festival artists, and OjaiCast, the podcast series that provides insights on upcoming programming. The Festival’s digital projects are available at OjaiFestival.org.

Click Here to View Festival Schedule 

Founded in 2017 by Matthew Aucoin and Zack Winokur, the mission of AMOC (American Modern Opera Company) is to build and share a body of collaborative work. As a group of dancers, singers, musicians, writers, directors, composers, choreographers, and producers united by a core set of values, AMOC artists pool their resources to create new pathways that connect creators and audiences in surprising and visceral ways. AMOC recently received a $750,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation “to support visionary artists in collaborative processes that re-envision a long-enduring art form in an artist-centric and contemporary manner.”

Current and past projects include The No One’s Rose, a devised music-theater-dance piece featuring new music by Matthew Aucoin, directed by Zack Winokur with choreography by Bobbi Jene Smith; EASTMAN, a multi-dimensional performance piece contending with the life and work of Julius Eastman; Winokur’s production of Hans Werner Henze’s El Cimarrón, which has been performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Repertory Theater; a new arrangement of John Adams’s El Niño, premiered at The Met Cloisters as part of Julia Bullock’s season-long residency at the Met Museum; Davóne Tines’s and Winokur’s Were You There, a meditation on black lives lost in recent years to police violence; and Bobbi Jene Smith and Keir GoGwilt’s dance/music works With Care and A Study on Effort, which have been produced at San Francisco’s ODC Theater, Toronto’s Luminato Festival, and elsewhere. Conor Hanick’s performance of CAGE, Zack Winokur’s production of John Cage’s music for prepared piano, was cited as the best recital of the year by The New York Times in 2018 and The Boston Globe in 2019. Additionally, AMOC will serve as the Ojai Music Festival’s 2022 Music Director, only the second ensemble, and first explicitly interdisciplinary company, to hold the position in the Festival’s 75-year history.


MATTHEW AUCOIN, composer, conductor, pianist
ZACK WINOKUR, director, choreographer, dancer





JONNY ALLEN, percussionist
DOUG BALLIETT, double bassist, composer
MIRANDA CUCKSON, violinist, violist
JULIA EICHTEN, dancer, choreographer
KEIR GOGWILT, violinist, scholar
OR SCHRAIBER, dancer, choreographer
BOBBI JENE SMITH, dancer, choreographer
DAVÓNE TINES, bass-baritone

Ara Guzelimian is Artistic and Executive Director of the Ojai Music Festival, having begun in that position in July 2020. The appointment culminates many years of association with the Festival, including tenures as director of the Ojai Talks and as Artistic Director 1992–97. 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. Guzelimian 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, 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, 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 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 shape 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 Ojai, a breathtaking valley 75 miles from Los Angeles, which is a perennial 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. During the intimate Festival weekend, considered a highlight of the international music summer season, Ojai welcomes up to 7,000 patrons 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 a different  Music Director each year, Ojai has presented a “who’s who” of music including Vijay Iyer, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, and Barbara Hannigan in recent years; 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, Matthias Pintscher, and Peter Sellars.

The Ojai Music Festival is committed to the health and safety of the Festival and greater Ojai communities. Given changing conditions, we continue to consult with county and state public health officials to determine the best practices (which may include masking and vaccination requirements) to put into effect for the June Festival. We will communicate our policy and any required protocols as we approach the June Festival. Please check our website for updated health and safety information to plan your visit.

2022 Ojai Festival single tickets are on sale and range from $50 to $150 in the reserved section of Libbey Bowl. Lawn tickets available at $20. Tickets may be purchased online at OjaiFestival.org or by calling (805) 646-2053.