Ojai Music Festival Announces Future Music Directors for 75th Anniversary Celebrations

Beginning with the Appointment of John Adams as 2021 Music Director (June 10–13, 2021) and Culminating with American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) as Music Director for the 2022 Festival (June 9–12, 2022) Download PDF  (OJAI, California, March 2, 2020) – Ojai Music Festival and Artistic Director designate Ara Guzelimian announced today the appointment of composer/conductor John …

Beginning with the Appointment of John Adams as 2021 Music Director (June 10–13, 2021) and Culminating with American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) as Music Director for the 2022 Festival (June 9–12, 2022)

Download PDF 

(OJAI, California, March 2, 2020) – Ojai Music Festival and Artistic Director designate Ara Guzelimian announced today the appointment of composer/conductor John Adams as the 2021 Music Director for the 75thFestival (June 10–13, 2021), followed by American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) as Music Director for the 76thFestival in 2022, culminating the Festival’s 75thAnniversary year.

Mr. Guzelimian’s tenure follows that of current Artistic Director Chad Smith, who was appointed CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in October 2019. Mr. Smith planned the upcoming 2020 Festival with Music Director Matthias Pintscher (June 11–14, 2020) and the Ensemble intercontemporain, featuring music of Olga Neuwirth, Steve Reich, Pierre Boulez, and Matthias Pintscheramong many others. Mitsuko Uchida, who was previously announced to lead the 2021 Festival, has asked to postpone her appointment because of scheduling conflicts and will return as Music Director in a future Festival.

For more than seven decades, the Ojai Music Festival has flourished as a creative laboratory by combining a boundless sense of adventure, an expansive musical curiosity, and an atmosphere of relaxed but focused informality. Each year a different Music Director is given the freedom and the resources to imagine four days of musical brainstorming. Ojai’s signature blend of an enchanted setting and an audience voracious in its appetite for challenge and discovery has inspired a distinguished series of musical innovators – from Boulez, Copland, and Stravinsky in its formative years to Barbara Hannigan, Vijay Iyer, and Patricia Kopatchinskaja in recent times – to push artistic boundaries. In announcing the appointments of John Adams and AMOC, the Festival now charts a course for its next chapters under the leadership of Artistic Director Ara Guzelimian.

“I am utterly delighted to begin my time at Ojai in the company of artists who continue to advance the forward-looking perspective that has defined Ojai for so long.” said Mr. Guzelimian, who begins his tenure with Ojai following the 2020 Festival, “John Adams’ work as a composer, conductor and tireless advocate for new music has made him a central figure in the musical life of our time. With his characteristic eagerness and curiosity, we have begun conversations about the many young composers he admires and wants to champion at Ojai in 2021.”

“AMOC, the 2022 Music Director, is not exactly an opera company but a remarkable collective of composers, singers, stage directors, choreographers, dancers, and instrumentalists who are among the brightest and freshest artistic voices to emerge in the last few years. We will make our first Ojai acquaintance with numerous members of AMOC as well as welcome back such Festival artists as Julia Bullock, Davóne Tines, and Jay Campbell. We are in for a great adventure.” added Mr. Guzelimian, “But first things first. I am excited about the more immediate 2020 Ojai Music Festival created by Music Director Matthias Pintscher and Artistic Director Chad Smith. I know that these wonderful artistic thinkers have conjured an exceptional musical journey, both true to the spirit of the Festival and also expanding its possibilities.”

As Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival, Mr. Adams will follow violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja (2018), soprano/conductor Barbara Hannigan (2019), and Matthias Pintscher (2020). Prior to this 2021 collaboration, Mr. Adams served as Ojai’s Music Director in 1993. Initial details for Mr. Adams’ 2021 Festival will be announced in June 2020.

Ojai’s 2022 Music Director will be American Modern Opera Company (AMOC). As described by The Boston Globe, AMOC is “a creative incubator par excellence . . . where the boundaries between disciplines go to die.” A collective of some of the most creative, forward-thinking artists, AMOC is led by its Artistic Directors composer/conductor Matthew Aucoin and director/choreographer Zack Winokur collaborating with Core Ensemble members Jonny Allen (percussion), Paul Appleby (tenor), Doug Balliett (double bass/composer), Julia Bullock (soprano), Jay Campbell (cello), Anthony Roth Costanzo (countertenor), Miranda Cuckoos (violin/viola), Julia Eichten (dancer/choreographer), Emi Ferguson (flute), Keir GoGwilt (violin/writer), Conor Hanick (piano), Coleman Itzkoff (cello), Or Schraiber (dancer/choreographer), Bobbi Jene Smith (dancer/choreographer), and Davóne Tines (bass-baritone).

Julia Bullock, Davóne Tines, and Jay Campbell are making a welcome return to Ojai, having participated memorably in past Festivals. Prior to AMOC, Ojai has welcomed only two ensembles as Music Director: Emerson String Quartet in 2002 and Eighth Blackbird in 2009.

John Adams, 2021 Music Director
Composer, conductor, and creative thinker – John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of music. His works stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes. Works spanning more than three decades are among the most performed of all contemporary classical music, among them Nixon in China, HarmonielehreDoctor Atomic, Shaker Loops, El Niño, Short Ride in a Fast Machine, and The Dharma at Big Sur.

His stage works, all in collaboration with director Peter Sellars, have transformed the genre of contemporary music theater. Of his best-known opera, the New Yorker wrote “Not since Porgy and Bess has an American opera won such universal acclaim as Nixon in China.”  

Nonesuch Records has recorded all of Mr. Adams’ music over the past three decades, with numerous Grammy awards among them. A recording of the complete Doctor Atomic, with Mr. Adams conducting the BBC Symphony, was released in July 2018, timed to coincide with the Santa Fe Opera’s latest production. 

As conductor, Mr. Adams leads the world’s major orchestras in repertoire that ranges from Beethoven and Mozart to Stravinsky, Ives, Carter, Zappa, Glass, and Ellington. Conducting engagements in recent seasons include the Concertgebouw Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Wiener Symphoniker and BBC Symphony. He led Rome’s Orchestra of Santa Cecilia in his oratorio The Gospel According to the Other Mary in October 2018.

A new piano concerto called Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? premiered by Yuja Wang in March 2019 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel. The same month the Dutch National Opera presented the European premiere of Adams’ 2017 opera about the California Gold Rush, Girls of the Golden West.

Born and raised in New England, he learned the clarinet from his father and played in marching bands and community orchestras during his formative years. He began composing at age ten and his first orchestral pieces were performed while just a teenager.

Mr. Adams has received honorary doctorates from Yale, Harvard, Northwestern, Cambridge and The Juilliard School. A provocative writer, he is author of the highly acclaimed autobiography Hallelujah Junction and is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review. He is currently Creative Chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

AMOC, 2022 Music Director
AMOC’s mission is to develop and produce a body of discipline-colliding work, to combine traditional and experimental artistic processes, and to maintain enduring creative relationships between its members. Founded by Artistic Directors Zack Winokur and Matthew Aucoin, AMOC is made up of some of the most adventurous singers, dancers, and instrumentalists at work today in the fields of contemporary and classical music and dance. 

The company’s upcoming projects include Lost Mountain, an evening-length dance work created by Bobbi Jene Smith; The No One’s Rose, a new music-dance-theater work created in partnership with San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, which features new music by Matthew Aucoin; and Veils for Desire, a staged concert featuring Anthony Roth Costanzo and Paul Appleby, which has its West Coast debut next season at the Los Angeles Opera. 

Past projects include Zack Winokur’s production of Hans Werner Henze’s El Cimarron, starring Davóne Tines, which has been performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as 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’ 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. 

In 2017, the year the company was founded, AMOC also created the Run AMOC! Festival at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA; the company has curated and performed that festival annually for the past three years. The company’s past engagements also include performances at the Big Ears Festival, the Caramoor Festival, National Sawdust, The Clark Art Institute, and the San Diego Symphony. The company has also been in residence at the Park Avenue Armory and Harvard University. 

Ara Guzelimian, Artistic Director designate
Ara Guzelimian is Provost and Dean of the Juilliard School in New York City, having been appointed in August 2006. At Juilliard, he has worked closely with the school’s 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. Mr. Guzelimian had previously announced his intention to step down from this 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.

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 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. 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, Boston, and London symphony orchestras, conducted by Bernard Haitink, have performed Mr. Guzelimian’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 remains 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, which takes place in early June, is an immersive experience with concerts, free community events, symposia, and gatherings. Considered a highlight of the international music summer season, Ojai remains a leader in the classical music landscape over 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, Jeremy Denk, Steven Schick, Peter Sellars, Vijay Iyer, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, and Barbara Hannigan. The Ojai Music Festival looks forward to the 74thFestival, June 11–14, 2020, with conductor and composer Matthias Pintscher. As it approaches its 75thanniversary, Ojai anticipates the future with Ara Guzelimian, whose tenure as Artistic Director will begin following the 2020 Festival.

74thFestival: June 11–14, 2020
74thFestival – June 11–14, 2020,  with Music Director Matthias Pintscher – will highlight progressive and forward-thinking composers of our time while paying homage to early classical roots. Featuring a vast array of composers from the past six centuries, the program connects the traditional with the contemporary, including works by Pierre Boulez, Olga Neuwirth, and Mr. Pintscher. 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, founded in 1972 by former Ojai Music Director Pierre Boulez and now led by Mr. Pintscher, is dedicated to performing and promoting contemporary chamber music. 2020 Festival series passes are available and single tickets go on sale in March. For more information, visit
OjaiFestival.orgor call 805 646 2053.



Press contacts:
Ojai Music Festival: Gina Gutierrez, [email protected], 805 646 2094
National/International: Nikki Scandalios, [email protected], 704 340 4094