2024 Festival Programs Announced

Mitsuko Uchida performs each Festival evening in works By Schoenberg and Mozart

The 2024 Festival welcomes Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Brentano String Quartet, violinist Alexi Kenney, cellist Jay Campbell, harpist Julie Smith Phillips and introduces soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon, percussionist Sae Hashimoto, accordionist Ljubinka Kulisic and bassist Rick Stotijn to Ojai audiences

Works By Kaija Saariaho are woven throughout the Festival, including Dreaming Chaconne, Fall, Six Japanese Gardens, and Lichtbogen, conducted by Saariaho’s daughter Aliisa Neige Barrière 

Highlights also include music of John Adams, Bartók, Biber, Cage, Debussy, Sofia Gubaidulina, Kurtág, Helmut Lachenmann, Missy Mazzoli, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Stravinsky, Jörg Widmann, and John Zorn

In collaboration with Baryshnikov Arts, Shifting Ground features violinist Alexi Kenney and video projections by Xuan, juxtaposing Baroque works by Bach and Matteis, with recent music by Kaija Saariaho, Angélica Negrón, Paul Wiancko, and Salina Fisher

The Festival features music from both the First and Second Viennese Schools, from Haydn and Mozart to Berg, Webern, and multiple works by Arnold Schoenberg in honor of the 150th Anniversary of his birth

(OJAI, California — January 18, 2024) — The 78th Ojai Music Festival, June 6 to 9, 2024, welcomes as Music Director pianist Mitsuko Uchida, one of the most universally admired artists of our time. Along with Festival Artistic and Executive Director Ara Guzelimian, Uchida shares programming highlights for the upcoming Festival. Mitsuko Uchida last performed at the 2004 Festival and was co-music director in 1998. The Festival will include more than 20 music events in the beautiful setting of the Ojai Valley.

“We are so honored to welcome Mitsuko Uchida back to the Ojai Festival, renewing her internationally celebrated partnership with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. It has been a joy to work with her in creating programs that span from her lifelong exploration of the Mozart piano concertos to music by some of today’s most compelling composers. And we celebrate her close association with a new generation of American artists through her work at the Marlboro Festival. This promises to be an exceptional Festival,” said Artistic and Executive Director Ara Guzelimian.

“I am so delighted to be returning to Ojai, a place of happy memories and wonderful musical associations for me. My first visit took place in 1996, one of the hottest summers in memory and yet the concentration on stage and in the audience was complete, with the focus entirely on music. The combination of deeply serious music-making amidst the natural beauty and informality of Ojai remains very special to me,” said 2024 Music Director Mitsuko Uchida.

“I am joined this year by my friends and colleagues of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with whom I have been working closely as an Artistic Partner for many years now. We have been exploring the rich world of the Mozart piano concertos together over the past five years with tours and projects throughout the world, with growing delight and understanding at each turn. The MCO musicians have their own special relationship with Ojai and have cherished their time here in the past. I know they are thrilled to be back.

We will be joined by a group of guest artists who I have come to know and admire through my work at the Marlboro Festival in Vermont each summer – soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon, violinist Alexi Kenney, cellist Jay Campbell, and the Brentano String Quartet. And I am so pleased to welcome percussionist Sae Hashimoto, accordionist Ljubinka Kulisic, harpist Julie Smith Phillips, and bassist Rick Stotijn. Similarly, the presence of a visiting composer at Marlboro has enlivened each summer with some of the most compelling musical thinkers of our time, and they are represented in this year’s Ojai programs – Sofia Gubaidulina, Kaija Saariaho, György Kurtág, Jörg Widmann, and Helmut Lachenmann among them,” added Uchida.

One of today’s most distinguished interpreters of Mozart, Uchida and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO) anchor the 2024 Festival with Mozart piano concerti in E flat K. 482, B flat K. 595, and G Major K. 453. The expansive partnership between Mitsuko Uchida and the MCO has been realized at major venues and multiple-concert residencies worldwide. In addition to leading Mozart from the keyboard, Uchida opens the 2024 Festival with Schoenberg’s Six Little Piano Pieces, Op. 19 and Mozart’s Fantasy in D minor, K. 397. The Festival also embraces artists closely associated with her through Marlboro Festival — soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon, violinist Alexi Kenney, cellist Jay Campbell, and the Brentano String Quartet. Each of these artists as well as composers Uchida has championed, including Sofia Gubaidulina, Kaija Saariaho, György Kurtág, Jörg Widmann, and Helmut Lachenmann, are represented throughout the 2024 programming.

During this 150th anniversary of Arnold Schoenberg’s birth, Ojai honors the Austrian composer who settled in Los Angeles in 1936, after emigrating to the United States. Festival audiences will hear works of his for piano, string quartet, and chamber orchestra joined by works of his students Webern and Berg. These pillars of the Second Viennese School are woven through the Festival weekend alongside works from the First Viennese School.

Shifting Ground is a unique program imagined and performed by Alexi Kenney for solo violin and boundary-pushing video projections by visual artist Xuan, taking place at the Ojai Valley School’s Greenberg Center. Produced in collaboration with Baryshnikov Arts, New York City, Shifting Ground weaves Baroque works by Bach and Matteis, with recent music by Kaija Saariaho, Angélica Negrón, Paul Wiancko, and Salina Fisher.

Ojai will welcome the return of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (MCO), who appeared with the 2018 Festival Music Director Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Those Ojai Music Festival performances marked the MCO’s first extended United States residency. Founded in 1997, the MCO is an international ensemble defined by its distinct sound, independent artistic identity, and agile and democratic structure. The orchestra brings together 27 different nationalities, with musicians living in all parts of the world, to reach audiences across 40 countries on five continents. The MCO forms the basis of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and maintains long and fruitful artistic relationships with major artists, including several Ojai Music Directors such as Mitsuko Uchida, Kopatchinskaja, Leif Ove Andsnes (2012 Music Director) and George Benjamin (2010 Music Director). In Ojai, MCO will display its versatility and virtuosity as an orchestral ensemble, in smaller chamber iterations, and in solo performances from individual members.

Mitsuko Uchida will be joined by the Brentano String Quartet, who first appeared at the Festival in 2017 with Vijay Iyer as music director; cellist Jay Campbell, who performed at the Festival in 2019 with Barbara Hannigan as music director, as well as a member of AMOC in 2022; violinist Alexi Kenney and harpist Julie Smith Phillips, whose first Festival was with Music Director John Adams for the 2021 Festival. The 2024 Festival also introduces to Ojai audiences soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon, percussionist Sae Hashimoto, accordionist Ljubinka Kulisic, and bassist Rick Stotijn. Please visit the website for complete 2024 artist biographies.

Additional programming will be announced in spring 2024.

An integral part of the immersive Ojai Festival experience are the free community activities in Libbey Park and throughout Ojai. This will include Morning Meditations, Music Pop-Ups, and a Family Concert.

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

Continuing this year is Ojai on the Air with New York Public Radio’s New Sounds and host John Schaefer. The series of programs connects audiences and artists who engage deeply with adventurous new music. Ojai on the Air segments featuring the discipline colliding collective AMOC, Ojai’s 2022 Music Director, and the 2023 Festival with Music Director Rhiannon Giddens are archived and available at WQXR.org and directly at newsounds.org.

2024 Libbey Bowl series passes are available and may be purchased online at OjaiFestival.org or by calling (805) 646-2053. Passes start at $215 for reserved seating. Lawn area passes start at $90. Single tickets and day passes will go on sale in the spring.

One of the most revered artists of our time, Mitsuko Uchida is known as a peerless interpreter of the works of Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, and Beethoven, as well for being a devotee of the piano music of Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg, Anton Webern, and György Kurtág. She was Musical America’s Artist of the Year in 2022, is Music Director of the 2024 Ojai Music Festival, and is a Carnegie Hall Perspectives artist across the 2022/3, 2023/4 and 2024/5 seasons. Her latest solo recording of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, was released to critical acclaim in 2022, nominated for a Grammy® Award, and won the 2022 Gramophone Piano Award.

She has enjoyed close relationships over many years with the world’s most renowned orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and – in the US – the Chicago Symphony and The Cleveland Orchestra, with whom she recently celebrated her 100th performance at Severance Hall. Conductors with whom she has worked closely have included Bernard Haitink, Sir Simon Rattle, Riccardo Muti, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Vladimir Jurowski, Andris Nelsons, Gustavo Dudamel, and Mariss Jansons.

Since 2016, Mitsuko Uchida has been an Artistic Partner of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with whom she is currently engaged on a multi-season touring project in Europe, Japan and North America. She also appears regularly in recital in Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, London, New York and Tokyo, and is a frequent guest at the Salzburg Mozartwoche and Salzburg Festival.

Mitsuko Uchida records exclusively for Decca, and her multi-award-winning discography includes the complete Mozart and Schubert piano sonatas. She is the recipient of two Grammy® Awards – for Mozart Concertos with The Cleveland Orchestra, and for an album of lieder with Dorothea Röschmann – and her recording of the Schoenberg Piano Concerto with Pierre Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra won the Gramophone Award for Best Concerto.

A founding member of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust and Director of Marlboro Music Festival, Mitsuko Uchida is a recipient of the Golden Mozart Medal from the Salzburg Mozarteum, and the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association. She has also been awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society and the Wigmore Hall Medal and holds Honorary Degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. In 2009 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Ara Guzelimian is the 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 from 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.

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. In 2020, Guzelimian was appointed to the advisory panel of the Birgit Nilsson Foundation in Sweden.

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. 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, he 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 openhearted programming in the most beautiful and welcoming of settings, with audiences and artists to match its aspirations. Now in its 78th year, the Festival remains a creative laboratory 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 programming as well as robust educational offerings that serve thousands of public-school students and seniors. The organization’s apex is the world-renowned Festival, which takes place over four days 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. The intimate Festival weekend, considered a highlight of the international music summer season, welcomes up to 5,000 patrons and reaches exponentially more audiences worldwide through streaming and broadcasts of concerts and discussions throughout the year.

Since its founding in 1947, the Ojai Music Festival has presented expansive programming 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 Rhiannon Giddens, AMOC* (American Modern Opera Company), 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.