Ojai Music Festival Announces 2013 Programs

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Mark Morris debuts as Music Director, June 6-9, 2013

Concerts, bonus events, films, and talks for the 67th Festival will celebrate collaborations with the Mark Morris Dance Group, MMDG Music Ensemble, The Bad Plus, the American String Quartet, and Pianist/Organist Colin Fowler

Featured works by American musical icons including Lou Harrison, John Luther Adams, John Cage, Henry Cowell, and Charles Ives

Ojai North!, the third year of the Ojai Music Festival’s partnership with Cal Performances, follows June 13-15 in Berkeley, CA

OJAI, CA – December 10, 2013:  The 67th Ojai Music Festival, June 6-9, 2013, will explore the musical interests and celebrate artistic collaborations of this year’s music director, noted American choreographer Mark Morris, whose programming focuses on American artists and American music. With an extensive series of concerts and events, the 2013 Festival marks a convergence of exceptional artists, adventurous repertoire, one of the most remarkable audiences for music anywhere and the idyllic setting of Ojai in a four-day immersion of almost continual music-making, discussion and community.  Following the Festival in Ojai, Ojai North!, the multi-year residency project in partnership with Cal Performances,takes place June 11-13 in Berkeley, CA.

Mark Morris – the first dancer/choreographer to serve as Music Director of the Festival – has been the recipient of numerous awards in recognition of his contributions to the arts, including a MacArthur Fellowship and the prestigious Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society. Celebrated as not only as a dancer and choreographer, Mr. Morris’ extensive work in directing opera has included partnerships with The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Gotham Chamber Opera, English National Opera, The Royal Opera, and Covent Garden. Mark Morris considers Cal Performances his West Coast home and has partnered with the institution since 1987 presenting numerous premieres.

“Mark Morris knows more music and more about music than almost anyone I have ever met, making him an irresistible choice as music director for the Ojai Music Festival. His creativity, knowledge and curiosity have infused a Festival program that concentrates on American artists and iconic American composers that are relatively new to Ojai – Lou Harrison, Henry Cowell and John Cage. The Festival is packed with great music, unpredictability, variety, promising to be a wild and crazy ride,” said Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris.

Ojai 2013 programming focuses on music Mark Morris champions and loves, including the music of Lou Harrison, John Cage, Henry Cowell, Charles Ives, and John Luther Adams. Joining Mr. Morris in Ojai will be his Mark Morris Dance Group and the MMDG Music Ensemble, as well as long-time collaborators including jazz trio The Bad Plus (recognized by Rolling Stone magazine as “about as badass as highbrow can get”), pianist/organist Colin Fowler, the American String Quartet, percussion ensemble red fish blue fish, and the UC Berkeley Gamelan Sari Raras.

The 2013 Festival, in keeping with the growing trends of recent years, will include Libbey Bowl concerts, additional events, late night and sunrise concerts, films, and talks. The Festival begins Thursday night, June 6, with a concert by The Bad Plus, featuring its own highly original version of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, arescoring of the explosive masterpiece for piano, bass and drums. This will be followed by a participatory event as Mark Morris leads Festival patrons in social dancing at the Ojai Arts Center.

Mr. Morris will present on Friday night his extraordinary Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) in a two-part evening of dance to the music of Samuel Barber, Igor Stravinsky, Lou Harrison, Henry Cowell, and Charles Ives. The program closes with Mark Morris’ celebrated choreography Grand Duo to Lou Harrison’s Grand Duo for Violin and Piano. This influential work was hailed by The Guardian as “…truly one of the masterpieces of the late 20th century.”

Terry Riley’s In C, often cited as the first minimalist composition, comprises the Saturday morning concert.  Saturday evening features the MMDG Music Ensemble conducted by Joshua Gersen, conducting assistant to Michael Tilson Thomas at the New World Symphony, performing Lou Harrison’s Suite for Symphonic Strings, and John Luther Adams’ For Lou Harrison, a haunting work for string quartet, two pianos and strings.

Sunday morning’s American program includes the sole String Quartet by Ruth Crawford Seeger, one of the greatest, yet least prolific American composers, a selection of songs by Seeger, Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, and John Cage, ending in an arrangement that includes audience participation of Carl Ruggles’ great hymn, Exaltation, his final work written as a memorial to his wife. Mark Morris will conduct and the audience will be invited to join in as the congregation. The final concert on Sunday will also be in two parts, with the first featuring organ music by Olivier Messiaen and Lou Harrison’s Concerto forOrgan and Percussion Orchestrawith organist Colin Fowler and red fish blue fish. The second part of the concert will include two works by Henry Cowell – his Heroic Dance, written for Martha Graham, and his transfixing cantata Atlantis. The Festival closes with the short Fugue for Percussion by Lou Harrison, one of his most fiendishly difficult pieces, and finally Lou Harrison’s Concerto for Piano and Gamelan. The organ and piano soloist will be Colin Fowler performing with the UC Berkeley Gamelan Sari Raras.

Additional events will be sprinkled throughout the Festival including percussion music by Harrison and Cage, Gamelan concerts of music by Harrison, John Cage’s Four Walls for piano and soprano, Mark Morris leading a  live-band karaoke late night event, and three films. In addition, there will be two morning performances of John Luther Adams’ works – A Strange and Sacred Noise (the work featured in the documentary film shown at the 2012 Festival) written for four spatial percussionists and songbirdsongs for three piccolos, tape and two percussion. Both performances of Adams’ gorgeously evocative works are open to the community and will be held in outdoor spaces in the Ojai Valley.

The Ojai Talks series with host Ara Guzelimian begins with an extended discussion with Mark Morris on the subject “Why a Choreographer?” Additional Ojai Talks include a discussion with John Luther Adams, and an exploration of Lou Harrison, his music, influences and legacy, with Lou Harrison: World of Music producer/director Eva Soltes.

Following the 2013 Festival in Ojai, Ojai North! takes place from June 13-15 in Berkeley, CA with programming to be announced in mid-December. The Ojai Music Festival’s multi-year partnership with Cal Performances in Berkeley, Ojai North!, was inaugurated in 2011. This collaborative effort makes possible annual reprises of Ojai concerts in Berkeley, as well as co-commissions and co-productions. More than just a sharing of resources, Ojai North! represents a joining of artistic ideals and aspirations. The combined efforts of Ojai’s legacy of artistic innovation and Cal Performances’ tradition of groundbreaking productions creates a joint force that allows artists to achieve more than could even be imagined by each organization separately.

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 that embrace the music of our time and provides intellectual context and education around the Festival programming, creating an immersion experience of adventurous inspiration and vibrant collaboration. Considered a highlight of the summer classical music season, Ojai has remained a leader in the classical music landscape, provoking thought during the Festival and long after about why music matters.

The Ojai Music Festival attracts the world’s greatest musical artists. Under its unique structure of appointing an annual Music Director by the Artistic Director, Ojai has presented a “who’s who” of music: 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 and Jeremy Denk.

Thomas W. Morris, Artistic Director
Thomas W. Morris was appointed artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival starting with the 2004 Festival, a relationship that has been extended through 2017.  Mr. Morris is recognized as one of the most innovative leaders in the orchestra industry and served as the long-time chief executive leader of both The Cleveland Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Morris is currently active nationally and internationally as a consultant, lecturer, teacher, and writer.

As artistic director of the 67-year old Ojai Festival, Mr. Morris is responsible for artistic planning, and each year appoints a music director with whom Mr. Morris collaborates on shaping the festival’s programming. Under his tenure, audiences have increased, and the scope of the festival expanded, most recently to include an innovative partnership with Cal Performances in Berkeley, Ojai North!

Mr. Morris is a founding director of Spring for Music, and serves as the project’s artistic director.  He currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Curtis Institute of Music and as chair of its Board of Overseers, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Interlochen Center for the Arts.  He is also an accomplished percussionist.

Mark Morris, Music Director
Mark Morris was born on August 29, 1956, in Seattle, Washington, where he studied with Verla Flowers and Perry Brunson.  In the early years of his career, he performed with the Koleda Balkan Dance Ensemble, and later the dance companies of Lar Lubovitch, Hannah Kahn, Laura Dean, and Eliot Feld.  He formed the Mark Morris Dance Group in 1980, and has since created more than 130 works for the company. From 1988-1991, he was Director of Dance at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, the national opera house of Belgium.  Among the works created during his time there were three evening-length dances: L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato; Dido and Aeneas; and The Hard Nut. In 1990, he founded the White Oak Dance Project with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Morris is also a ballet choreographer and has created eight works for the San Francisco Ballet since 1994 and received commissions from many others. His work is also in the repertory of the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, New Zealand Ballet, Houston Ballet, English National Ballet, and The Royal Ballet.  Morris is noted for his musicality and has been described as “undeviating in his devotion to music.” He has conducted performances for the Mark Morris Dance Group since 2006. He has worked extensively in opera, directing and choreographing productions for the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Gotham Chamber Opera, English National Opera, and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden.  In 1991, he was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation.  He has received eleven honorary doctorates to date.  In 2006, Morris received the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Mayor’s Award for Arts & Culture and a WQXR Gramophone Special Recognition Award “for being an American ambassador for classical music at home and abroad.”  He is the subject of a biography, Mark Morris, by Joan Acocella (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and Marlowe & Company published a volume of photographs and critical essays entitled Mark Morris’ L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato:A Celebration. Morris is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.  In recent years, he has received the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement (2007), the Leonard Bernstein Lifetime Achievement Award for the Elevation of Music in Society (2010), and the Benjamin Franklin Laureate Prize for Creativity (2012).

Tickets and Information
Early series ticket sales for the 2013 Festival are already ahead by 25% from last year. Festival series packages, ranging from $720 to $80, are available now at OjaiFestival.org or by calling (805) 646-2053. Single tickets will be available in spring 2013. Lodging information and directions, as well as complimentary concierge services for visitors and other Ojai activities, are also available on the Ojai Festival website.

Follow Festival updates on the web at OjaiFestival.org, Facebook, and Twitter.

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