Ara Guzelimian Named Artistic Director of the Ojai Music Festival Beginning with the 75th Festival in 2021

Chad Smith will Provide Artistic Direction through the 2020 Festival with Music Director Matthias Pintscher

Download PDF version 

(October 17, 2019 – Ojai, CA) – Ojai Music Festival Board Chairman Jerrold Eberhardt announced today the appointment of Ara Guzelimian as Ojai’s next Artistic Director with the 75th Festival, June 10 to 13, 2021. Mr. Guzelimian begins his initial three-year tenure with Ojai following the 2020 Festival under the artistic direction of Chad Smith. Mr. Smith, who was named as the Festival’s Artistic Di-rector in March 2018, announced his intention to step away from Ojai given his October 1, 2019 appointment as Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

“Ara Guzelimian’s remarkable artistic perspective, expertise, and relationships will be paramount as he guides the future direction of the Festival. Through his work with young musicians around the world, Ara truly has his finger on the pulse of music making today. My Board colleagues and I are absolutely thrilled that Ara has agreed to take the helm as Artistic Director,” said Jerrold Eberhardt. “When Tom Morris decided to conclude his defining 16-year tenure, the Board immediately approached Chad Smith with our full confidence that Chad was the right visionary to build on Tom’s artistic legacy. Two weeks ago, the LA Phil named Chad as their new CEO – a brilliant move for that organization and for the field of music. We accept and understand Chad’s desire to focus fully on the Philharmonic, and appreciate that he will remain Ojai’s Artistic Director through the June 2020 Festival.”

Ara Guzelimian commented, “The Ojai Festival represents an ideal of adventurous, open-minded, and open-hearted programming in the most beautiful and welcoming of settings with an audience to match its aspirations. To become Artistic Director at this moment, as the Festival approaches its 75th anniversary, is a deeply meaningful homecoming for me. I fell in love with Ojai in my teens – the place, the community, the spirit. I’ve enjoyed the warmest of friendships with my extraordinary predecessors – Lawrence Morton, Ernest Fleischmann, Tom Morris, and now, Chad Smith – and some of my most cherished musical experiences are rooted here. To return in this capacity brings me such joy. I look forward to working with the wonderful Board and staff to imagine a forward-facing festival very much true to the 2020s!”

Chad Smith said, “For nearly 75 years, the Ojai Music Festival has been a major platform for the world’s most probing, adventurous, and visionary musicians. It is, therefore, bittersweet to step away from this incredible opportunity after the 2020 Festival, but Ojai deserves the full creative energies of its Artistic Director and the LA Phil requires the singular focus of its CEO. That Ara’s personal journey allows him to assume the role of Artistic Director at Ojai, just as mine requires me to step away, is fortuitous. Ara is, quite simply, one of the great artistic minds in our field, and I look forward to supporting him and the Festival in the years to come from my position with the Philharmonic.”

Currently Provost and Dean of The Juilliard School, Ara Guzelimian had previously announced his in-tention to step down from that position in June 2020. At Juilliard, he will continue in an advisory role, and will teach, during the 2020/21 academic year. Mr. Guzelimian was Ojai’s Artistic Director from 1992 to 1997, working closely with Festival Music Directors Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Kent Nagano, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Emanuel Ax. Since 2004, he has served as the Festival’s Ojai Talks Director.

Next month, the Ojai Music Festival and Chad Smith will share details for the upcoming 2020 Festival – June 11 to 14, with Music Director Matthias Pintscher.

Ara Guzelimian
Ara Guzelimian is Provost and Dean of the Juilliard School in New York City having been appointed to the post in August 2006. At Juilliard, he works 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.

Prior to the Juilliard appointment, he was Senior Director and Artistic Advisor of Carnegie Hall from 1998 to 2006; in that post, he oversaw the artistic planning and programming for the opening of Zankel Hall in 2003. He was also host and producer of the acclaimed “Making Music” composer series at Carnegie Hall from 1999 to 2008. Mr. Guzelimian currently serves as Artistic Consultant for the Marlboro Music Festival and School in Vermont. He is also a member of the Music Visiting Committee of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Aga Khan Music Awards, and a Board member of the Amphion and Pacific Harmony Foundations.

He has given lectures and taught at the invitation of the Metropolitan Opera, the Salzburg Easter Festival, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Chicago Symphony, the National Center for the Performing Arts in Taipei and the Jerusalem Music Center. Previously, Ara Guzelimian held the position of Artistic Administrator of the Aspen Music Festival and School in Colora-do 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. As a writer and music critic, he has contributed to such publications as Musical America, Opera Quarterly, Opera News, Symphony magazine, The New York Times, the Record Geijutsu magazine (Tokyo), the program books of the Salzburg and the Helsinki Festivals, and the journal for the IRCAM center in Paris.

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. The Chicago, Bos-ton, and London Symphony orchestras, conducted by Bernard Haitink, have performed Mr. Guzelim-ian’s performing edition of Mendelssohn’s incidental music to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 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.

Ojai Music Festival
From its founding in 1947, the Ojai Music Festival has become a place for groundbreaking musical experiences, bringing together innovative artists and curious audiences in an intimate, idyllic setting 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The Festival presents broad-ranging programs in unusual ways with an eclectic mix of new and rarely performed music, as well as refreshing juxtapositions of musical styles. The Festival, that takes place in June, is an immersive experience with concerts, free community events, symposia, and gatherings. Considered a highlight of the international music summer season, Ojai has remained a leader in the classical music landscape for seven decades.

Through its signature structure of the Artistic Director appointing an annual Music Director, Ojai has presented a “who’s who” of music including 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, Jere-my Denk, Steven Schick, Peter Sellars, Vijay Iyer, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, and Barbara Hannigan. The Ojai Music Festival anticipates the 74th Festival, June 11 to 14, 2020, with conductor and composer Matthias Pintscher.

As it approaches its 75th anniversary, Ojai looks toward its future with Ara Guzelimian, whose tenure as Artistic Director will begin following the 2020 Festival.

74th Festival: June 11 to 14, 2020
The 74th Festival – June 11 to 14, 2020 – with Music Director Matthias Pintscher will highlight progressive and forward-thinking composers of our generation while paying homage to early classical roots. Featuring a vast array of composers from the past six centuries, the program will connect the traditional with the contemporary. Joining Mr. Pintscher for this adventurous musical exploration will be the Ensemble Intercontemporain in its Ojai Music Festival debut. This Paris-based world-renowned
ensemble of 31 full-time musicians is dedicated to performing and promoting contemporary chamber music, which was founded in 1972 by former Ojai Music Director Pierre Boulez, and is now led by Mr. Pintscher. For series passes to the 2020 Festival, visit OjaiFestival.org or call 805 646 2053.

###

Press contacts:
Ojai Music Festival: Gina Gutierrez, ggutierrez@ojaifestival.org (805) 646-2094
National/International: Nikki Scandalios, nikki@scandaliospr.com (704) 340-4094

Ara Guzelimian photo by Rosalie O’Connor