The 73rd Festival celebrates Hannigan as conductor, singer, and mentor; welcomes resident ensemble LUDWIG and members of Hannigan’s Equilibrium (EQ) mentoring initiative in their US debuts, and pianist Stephen Gosling and pianist/conductor Edo Frenkel in their Ojai debuts; and the return of JACK Quartet and conductor/percussionist Steven Schick
Works by composers central to Ojai’s history and future are featured, including John Luther Adams, James Dillon, Gerard Grisey, Oliver Knussen, Catherine Lamb, Olivier Messiaen, Terry Riley, Marc Sabat, Arnold Schoenberg, Tyshawn Sorey, Igor Stravinsky, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Claude Vivier, and John Zorn, with highlights:
- Semi-staged production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress with Hannigan conducting, director/designer Linus Fellbom, and members of EQ as the cast
- Hannigan performs as singer in Gérard Grisey’s Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil, Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2 for soprano & string quartet, the US premiere of John Zorn’s Jumalattaret,Girl Crazy Suite, a special arrangement by Bill Elliott of songs from the Gershwin musical;and as narrator in William Walton’s whimsical Façade: An Entertainment
- Hannigan conducts Vivier’s Lonely Child, Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht and Stravinsky’s complete ballet Pulcinella
- Chamber works by John Zorn with Stephen Gosling and the JACK Quartet include Hexentarot, Ghosts,and The Aristosfor piano trio, The Unseen, and The Alchemist for string quartet
- Concert in memoriam to 2005 Music Director Oliver Knussen
- John Luther Adam’s The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies performed by Steven Schick in the Libbey Park Gazebo, free for the community
Second year of partnership with Great Britain’s Aldeburgh Festival in Snape continues June 19-21, 2019
After shaping Ojai’s artistic direction for sixteen years, the 2019 Festival marks the conclusion of Thomas W. Morris’ defining tenure
(OJAI CA – November 13, 2018) – The 73rd Ojai Music Festival, June 6-9, 2019, celebrates and explores the creative breadth of Music Director Barbara Hannigan, as conductor, singer, and mentor. Joining Ms. Hannigan will be the US debut of her mentoring initiative for young professional artists, Equilibrium (EQ), as well as the US debut of the orchestral collective from Amsterdam, LUDWIG, with whom Ms. Hannigan made her Grammy Award-winning conducting debut CD “Crazy Girl Crazy” in 2017.
2019 Music Director Barbara Hannigan shared,
“What does the Ojai Music Festival mean to me? Possibility. Embrace. Challenge. Electricity. Resonance. The Ojai Festival is an atelier where we are invited to gather, as audience and performers, where we are in communion with one another, witnessing the act of live performance. Storytelling, dramaturgy, heart to heart exchange are at the center of my programming choices. This Festival will be a synthesis of dark and light – chiaroscuro – and brings the human voice to the forefront of many events, exploring the various ways composers have been inspired to express themselves through the interplay of text and music.
The Ojai Festival is a more than a playground: it is a circus tent, a jungle gym, an obstacle course, a field of dreams. There are risks being taken, and we open ourselves with curiosity, to possibilities of sound, of flying and falling, of being overwhelmed. Performers always have a degree of courage, but the same must be said of the loyal, curious and inspiring audiences of the Ojai Festival. I simply can’t wait.”
The 2019 Festival marks the sixteenth and final year under the artistic direction of Thomas W. Morris. As the Ojai Music Festival approaches its 75th anniversary and looks toward the future, the innumerable contributions by Mr. Morris will continue to be realized through the 2019 Festival and beyond. Under his creative watch, the Festival pushed boundaries and scope; explored each music director’s individual perspective, creativity, and artistic communities; invited an ever-broadening roster of artists; expanded in scope into an immersion experience over four days; introduced live and archival video streaming of concerts and talks; and built connections across musical communities with through-curated programming for each Festival.
Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris said,
“One of the most rewarding parts of my artistic director responsibilities has been selecting the annual music director – an ever-evolving process informed by the extraordinary resilience and receptivity of the Ojai Music Festival and its audience, as well as the astonishing wealth of artistic talent that exists. The world of music is so different than it was sixteen years ago with the artistic possibilities exploding, the breadth and depth of creative talent expanding, artificial boundaries between genres disappearing, and the appetite for audiences for more intense and distinctive musical experiences increasing. It is those forces that have propelled the sequence of music director appointments over the years – from a singer, to a pianist, to a choreographer, to a pianist/author, to a percussionist/conductor, to a stage director, to an improviser/composer, to a violinist, and to a singer/conductor/mentor. I would be less than honest to admit that this was a sequence well thought out in advance; in fact, the process was organic – an evolving adventure as each music director opened up new possibilities for the next in the context of an ever-changing environment. In many ways, Ojai is an ever self-reinforcing and regenerative flywheel of creativity.
I am thrilled that Barbara Hannigan is my creative partner in 2019, my last after sixteen glorious and stimulating years. Barbara, a dear friend and a great artist, is a beacon of extraordinary creativity through her incredible artistry and ceaseless curiosity and commitment to the future. She represents everything an artist of the future must be. A renowned soprano, conductor and musician, she demonstrates the values that define the next generation of great artistic leaders with her new Equilibrium mentoring initiative for young artists. It will be a festival of provocative new sounds, imaginative productions, palatable energy, and outright fun – what I see as a fitting capstone to what has been an invigorating, stimulating, and daunting adventure for me over these years.”
Launching the Festival concert line-up on Thursday, June 6 will be Ms. Hannigan’s work from the podium, Stravinsky’s neoclassic opera, The Rake’s Progress, a Faustian fable for our time addressing the subjects of love, laziness, and greed. Anne Truelove was one of the first operatic roles Ms. Hannigan ever sang, and the opera holds a special place in her heart. Ms. Hannigan conducts this semi-staged performance featuring members of her Equilibrium mentoring initiative as the cast and the Los Robles Master Chorale in their Ojai debut. The production, directed by Linus Fellbom, is a co-production with the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden, the Klara Festival in Brussels, the Munich Philharmonic in Germany, plus the Aldeburgh Festival. The Rake’s Progress is new to Ojai with the exception of a performance in 1962 of one scene from the opera, and has been very rarely performed in Southern California.During the Festival, Ms. Hannigan also conducts works by Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, and Claude Vivier.
As a singer, Ms. Hannigan will perform Gérard Grisey’s masterpiece, Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil,a 45-minute song cycle for soprano and 16 instruments which explores the passage from life into death. Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil, completed just days before Grisey’s death, will be conducted by Ojai’s 2015 Music Director Steven Schick. Ms. Hannigan will perform in Arnold Schoenberg’s sensual String Quartet No. 2 for soprano & string quartet with the JACK Quartet. Ms. Hannigan will serve as both singer and conductor in Girl Crazy Suite, a touching and infectious arrangement by Tony-award winning Bill Elliott, which is part of Hannigan’s 2017 Grammy-winning album Crazy Girl Crazy, that will close the Festival on Sunday, June 9. Also featured will be Ms. Hannigan and pianist Stephen Gosling performing the US premiere of John Zorn’s Jumalattaret, an extraordinary quest for soprano and piano inspired by the goddesses of Finland’s Kalevala saga.
In January 2017, Ms. Hannigan launched the to mentor 21 young professional musicians in the first substantial phase of their careers. EQ includes intensive workshop retreats, which focus on developing and strengthening the skills needed for sustaining a fulfilling career, as well as offering performance opportunities with Ms. Hannigan and others. EQ artists are selected from an international field of applicants for their talent, musicianship, passion, drive, curiosity, discipline, versatility, and creativity. Seven of these young artists will form the cast of The Rake’s Progress, as well as perform additional music by Igor Stravinsky, Claude Vivier, Mark-Anthony Turnage. On Saturday, June 8, the singers will participate in a special program of folk songs from their diverse native countries entitled, Rites of Passage.
LUDWIG, the celebrated collective from Amsterdam, with whom Ms. Hannigan works closely and collaborated with on the recent Grammy and Juno award-winning album Crazy Girl Crazy(Alpha Classics), makes its Ojai and US debut with the 2019 Festival. Formed in 2012, LUDWIG distinguishes itself artistically and in terms of its range and flexibility. Varying in size from a single soloist to a full-scale symphonic orchestra, LUDWIG carefully crafts its diverse programming. In 2015, LUDWIG received The Art of Impact grant for their pioneering research project Ludwig and the Brain, which, in cooperation with leading scientists, explores innovative ways music can have positive effects on health and education.
The JACK Quartet, which made its Ojai debut at the 2018 Festival, returns performing Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2 with Ms. Hannigan as soprano, Marc Sabat’s Euler Lattice Spirals Scenery, Tyshawn Sorey’s Everything Changes, Nothing Changes, Catherine Lamb’s String Quartet, and a two-part concert of works by John Zorn, including three piano trios with Stephen Gosling, and two quartets The Unseenand The Alchemist. Deemed “superheroes of the new music world” (Boston Globe), JACK is dedicated to the performance, commissioning, and spread of new string quartet music. Comprising violinists Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell, the group collaborates with composers of our day and was recently named the 2018 Ensemble of the Year by Musical America.
Oliver Knussen, who passed away at the early age of 66 on July 8, 2018, was Ojai’s Music Director in 2005, and worked extensively with Barbara Hannigan in the 1990s. In tribute, the Festival will offer a program of Mr. Knussen’s music including ensemble and piano pieces. Thomas W. Morris said on his passing, “Olly, as he was known to everyone, was a giant musician – figuratively and literally – a bear of a man with the gentlest and kindest disposition of anyone I have ever known. I was always amazed about the breadth of his openness and curiosity for music, and he simply knew and loved more music than anyone I knew. His music was meticulously crafted, finely etched, and deeply inspired. He is profoundly missed professionally and personally.”
Additional featured music includes Terry Riley’s seminal In C, receiving its second Ojai Festival performance and featuring 2019 Festival artists and William Walton’s entertainment, Façade, a concoction for speaker and six instruments on humorous poems by Edith Sitwell, will be narrated by Barbara Hannigan and surprise guests.
Free Community Concerts
The Festival continues to build on its commitment to reach broader audiences with several opportunities for the community to experience Festival offerings. Over the course of the first three afternoons of the 2019 Festival, percussionist Steven Schick will perform the eight movements of John Luther Adams’ The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies. Works by John Luther Adams have been performed for Ojai audiences and have included Sila, Inuksuit (co-commissioned by the Ojai Music Festival), and recently Everything that Rises performed at the 2018 Festival.
For the first time since 2014, the Ojai Music Festival welcomes the return of Ojai Films, a series of two screenings during the weekend at the Ojai Presbyterian Church, while the Ojai Playhouse continues its reconstruction. On Friday, June 7 the Festival will include, I’m a creative animal: A Portrait of Barbara Hannigan produced in 2014 by SRF and directed by Barbara Seiler. On Saturday, June 8, the Festival will present the US premiere of Taking Risks, a documentary produced by Accentus Music on the birth of Equilibrium which follows its inception through all stages of the casting and production, and culminating in the world premiere of the semi-staged production of The Rake’s Progress (which is performed in Ojai June 6) in Gothenburg in December 2018.
The 2019 Festival begins with Ojai Talks hosted by Ara Guzelimian, former Festival Artistic Director and current Dean and Provost of The Juilliard School. On Thursday, June 6, a three-part series of discussions will begin with an exploration of Barbara Hannigan’s Equilibrium (EQ) initiative, with Ms. Hannigan and EQ artists. Mr. Guzelimian will interview Thomas W. Morris on his sixteen-year tenure as Ojai’s Artistic Director for the second part, and the third part of the discussion series will speak to the reinvention of musical groups, with members of LUDWIG.
Additional on-site and online dialogue during the 2019 Festival includes Concert Insights, the pre-concert talks at the Libbey Bowl Tennis Courts with Festival artists led by resident musicologist Christopher Hailey. Pre-concert interviews with artists are broadcast through the Festival’s free live streaming program, hosted by content-expert individuals.
Partnership with the Aldeburgh Festival, June 19-21, 2019
The new partnership with Aldeburgh was launched following the 2018 Festival in Ojai with Music Director Patricia Kopatchinskaja. The collaboration showcases select Ojai Music Festival concerts during the Aldeburgh Festival at the acclaimed Maltings in Snape near Aldeburgh, England. The partnership features co-productions and co-commissions affording both the Ojai Music Festival and Aldeburgh Festival the ability to present more complex and creative artistic projects than could be conceived by each partner separately. Launched in June 2018 for an initial four-year period, the 2019 edition takes place June 19-21.
Ojai at Berkeley Concludes
Ojai at Berkeley, the robust eight-year partnership between the Ojai Music Festival and Cal Performances, began in 2011 and allowed such collaborations as The Classical Style by Steven Stucky and Jeremy Denk, Josephine Baker Portrait by Tyshawn Sorey and Julia Bullock, and George Lewis’ Afterword the Opera to be performed. With the leadership transitions at both institutions, it has been decided to conclude the venture. The final installation of Ojai at Berkeley took place in June 2018 following the Ojai Music Festival with Music Director Patricia Kopatchinskaja.
Barbara Hannigan, 2019 Music Director
Nova Scotian musician Barbara Hannigan divides her time between singing on the world’s major stages and conducting leading orchestras. The Berlin Philharmonic, Münchner Philharmoniker, Gothenburg Symphony, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and the Toronto Symphony are among the orchestras with whom she holds close relationships. Ms. Hannigan has worked with the most prominent conductors, including Simon Rattle, Kent Nagano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Andris Nelsons, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Kirill Petrenko, David Zinman, Vladimir Jurowski, Antonio Pappano, Alan Gilbert, and Reinbert de Leeuw. Her commitment to the music of our time has led to an extensive collaboration with composers including Boulez, Dutilleux, Ligeti, Stockhausen, Sciarrino, Barry, Dusapin, and Abrahamsen. She has recently been appointed as Principal Guest Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden, following Kent Nagano’s tenure in that position.
Unforgettable operatic appearances include the title role in Lulu in Krszysztof Warlikowski’s staging at Brussels’ La Monnaie, and more recently at Hamburg Staatsoper conducted by Kent Nagano and directed by Christoph Marthaler; the title role of Pelléas et Mélisandein Katie Mitchell’s staging at the 2016 Festival d’Aix-en-Province conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and in Krszysztof Warlikowski’s more recent production at the Ruhrtriennale in Germany; and Marie in Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten at the Bayerische Staatsoper—a hugely acclaimed presentation directed by Andreas Kriegenberg and conducted by Kirill Petrenko, for which she won the Faust Award in Germany. She made her Opéra National de Paris debut in 2015 with La voix humaine again in a Warlikowski production and returned in April 2018 to reprise the role. She created the role of Ophelia in Brett Dean’s Hamletat the Glyndebourne Festival in summer 2017 and created the lead soprano roles in both of George Benjamin’s full scale operas: Written on Skin, and Lessons in Love and Violence.
In 2017, Ms. Hannigan released her first album as both singer and conductor, with Holland’s LUDWIG orchestra as the orchestral force, on Alpha Classics, entitled Crazy Girl Crazy. The album features works by Berio, Berg, and a specially commissioned Gershwin arrangement by Bill Elliott, as well as a bonus dvd by Mathieu Amalric. The album has received numerous awards worldwide including the Grammy and Juno awards for best classical vocal album.
Ms. Hannigan’s previous recordings have garnered awards from Gramophone, Edison, Victoires de la Musique and the Royal Philharmonic Society. Other awards include Singer of the Year (Opernwelt, 2013), Musical Personality of the Year (Syndicat de la Presse Francaise, 2012), Ehrenpreise (Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik 2018), and Rolf Schock Prize for Musical Arts (2018), and she was recently appointed as a member to the Order of Canada (2016).
In 2017 Ms. Hannigan created Equilibrium, an international mentoring initiative for young professional musicians, and chose 21 participants from a total of 350 applicants from 39 countries to participate in Equilibrium’s first season (2018/19), which will have over 20 performances with four partner orchestras in works including Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, Mozart’s Requiem, and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella.
Thomas W. Morris, Artistic Director
Thomas W. Morris was appointed Artistic Director of the Ojai Music Festival starting with the 2004 Festival. As Artistic Director, he is responsible for artistic planning and each year appoints a music director with whom he shapes the Festival’s programming. During Mr. Morris’ tenure, the scope and density of the Festival has expanded, the collaborative partnership Ojai at Berkeley with Cal Performances at UC Berkeley launched, a partnership with England’s Aldeburgh Festival was initiated in 2018, and a comprehensive program of video streaming of all concerts was instituted. Mr. Morris is recognized as one of the most innovative leaders in the orchestra industry and served as the longtime chief executive of both The Cleveland Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is currently active nationally and internationally as a consultant, lecturer, teacher, and writer. Mr. Morris was a founding director of Spring for Music in NYC and served as the project’s artistic director. He served ten years on the board of trustees of Interlochen Center for the Arts, most recently as Vice Chair, and he is also an accomplished percussionist. In November 2018, Mr. Morris announced his decision to retire as the Festival’s Artistic Director following the 2019 Festival with Music Director Barbara Hannigan, after shaping Ojai’s artistic direction for sixteen years.
About the Ojai Music Festival
From its founding in 1947, the Ojai Music Festival has created a place for groundbreaking musical experiences, bringing together innovative artists and curious audiences in an intimate, idyllic setting 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The Festival presents broad-ranging programs in unusual ways with an eclectic mix of rarely performed music, refreshing juxtapositions of musical styles, and works by today’s composers. The four-day festival 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 unique structure of the Artistic Director appointing an annual Music Director, Ojai has presented a “who’s who” of music including Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, Olivier Messiaen, 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, Peter Sellars, Vijay Iyer, Barbara Hannigan (2019), and Matthias Pintscher (2020).
As the Ojai Music Festival approaches its 75th anniversary and looks toward the future, Thomas W. Morris concludes his remarkable 16-year tenure as Artistic Director following the 73rd Festival in 2019. With the appointment of Chad Smith as the next Artistic Director, Ojai’s artistic momentum is clearly poised to continue. Mr. Smith will succeed Mr. Morris as Artistic Director with the 2020 Festival (June 11-14).
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 .
Series Passes for the 2019 Ojai Music Festival
2019 Festival series passes are available and may be purchased online at or by calling (805) 646-2053. Ojai Music Festival series passes range from $165 to $925 for reserved seating and lawn series passes start at $75. Single concert tickets will be available in spring 2019.