The 2021 Festival Schedule Announcement

      Ojai Music Festival and Music Director John Adams  Announce Schedule for the 75th Festival — September 16 to 19, 2021 Music Director John Adams devises a wide-ranging composer-focused festival with Samuel Adams, Timo Andres, Laurie Anderson, Anthony Cheung, Donnacha Dennehy, inti figgis-vizueta, Arturo Fuentes, Dai Fujikura, Rhiannon Giddens, Philip Glass, Alejandra Hernández, Mario Lavista, …




Ojai Music Festival and Music Director John Adams 
Announce Schedule for the 75th Festival — September 16 to 19, 2021

  • Music Director John Adams devises a wide-ranging composer-focused festival with Samuel Adams, Timo Andres, Laurie Anderson, Anthony Cheung, Donnacha Dennehy, inti figgis-vizueta, Arturo Fuentes, Dai Fujikura, Rhiannon Giddens, Philip Glass, Alejandra Hernández, Mario Lavista, Ingram Marshall, Dylan Mattingly, Brad Mehldau, Jessie Montgomery, Nico Muhly, Gabriela Ortiz, Manuel Rocha, Kaija Saariaho, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Caroline Shaw, Carlos Simon, Gabriella Smith, and Paul Wiancko, alongside works by Bach, Debussy, Mozart, Rameau, and Stravinsky
  • Artists making their Ojai debuts include Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi, pianist Víkingur Ólafsson, Attacca Quartet, violinist Miranda Cuckson, Chumash Elder and storyteller Julie Tumamait, and recorder player Anna Margules; Ojai welcomes the return of pianist/composer Timo Andres, the LA Phil New Music Group, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO)
  • 2021 Program features the World Premieres of Sunt Lacrimae Rerum (these are the tears of things) by Dylan Mattingly and the revised version of Gabriela Ortiz’s La Calaca, along with the West Coast Premiere of Samuel Adams’ Chamber Concerto and the first concert performance of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Objets Trouvés
  • The Festival will offer a free family concert for the community by Festival artists Julie Tumamait and Anna Margules in conjunction with its BRAVO education program

    The Ojai Music Festival has always done things differently with its special mix of casual manner and provocative programming. Ever since its inception in the days of Stravinsky and Copland it has stood out among music festivals for its celebration of the new.  I am honored to return as Music Director, and I am eager to introduce to our audiences a new generation of composers and performers who give a glimpse of what the future of creativity in music will be. Rhiannon Giddens, Víkingur Ólafsson, Carlos Simon, Gabriella Smith, Gabriella Ortiz, and Samuel Adams are just a few among many who will give this year’s Festival a jolt of energy that will resound in the magnificent setting of the Ojai Valley. It will be a treat not to be missed.” – John Adams, 2021 Music Director

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    (May 26, 2021 – Ojai, California) – Ojai Music Festival 2021 Music Director John Adams and Artistic & Executive Director Ara Guzelimian today announced scheduling details for the 75th Festival, September 16 to 19, 2021. (The Festival moved this year from its traditional June time period because of the pandemic.) The Festival’s 75th anniversary year will conclude next June (June 9 to 12, 2022) with American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) serving as Music Director for the 76th Festival.

    Ara Guzelimian commented, “I am overjoyed that we will gather once again to hear music in the magical setting of Libbey Bowl. As this 75th milestone year is marked, we look toward Ojai’s future by honoring the Festival’s role as a champion of a new generation of composers and artists. We respond to these immensely challenging times by placing our faith, now more than ever, in this next generation to show us the way forward. John Adams has been unwavering in his desire to focus the 75th Festival as a forward-facing exploration and adventure for artists and audiences alike. On behalf of the Festival family, I am so grateful for the support and understanding of our world-wide community through this challenging time. I cannot wait for all of us to gather in Ojai in September for the 75th Festival. It will be a most joyous reunion.” 

    John Adams, who is both curator and conductor for the 2021 Festival, focuses on composers of today whose music will be threaded throughout the Festival. Featured composers include Samuel Adams, Timo Andres, Laurie Anderson, Donnacha Dennehy, inti figgis-vizueta, Rhiannon Giddens, Philip Glass, Ingram Marshall, Dylan Mattingly, Brad Mehldau, Jessie Montgomery, Nico Muhly, Gabriela Ortiz, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Caroline Shaw, Carlos Simon, Gabriella Smith, and Paul Wiancko, many of whom plan to be in residence during the Festival. Mr. Adams will conduct two concerts that will include works by Debussy, Mozart, Carlos Simon, Gabriela Ortiz, Timo Andres, Gabriella Smith, Ingram Marshall, Esa-Pekka Salonen, the West Coast Premiere of Samuel Adams’ Chamber Concerto, featuring violinist Miranda Cuckson, and two of his own works featuring Rhiannon Giddens as soloist.

    Making their Ojai debuts are Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi, who will perform works from their latest album, They’re Calling Me Home; Ms. Giddens will collaborate in her own works with the Attacca Quartet and as vocal soloist in music of John Adams, conducted by the composer; violinist

    Miranda Cuckson (who will return with AMOC as the 2022 Music Director) performing works by Kaija Saariaho, Anthony Cheung, Bach, and Dai Fujikura; recorder player Anna Margules will share a solo concert of new music for recorder and electronics from Mexico featuring composers Arturo Fuentes, Alejandra Hernández, Mario Lavista, Manuel Rocha, and Gabriela Ortiz; Chumash Elder Julie Tumamait will lead a series of events exploring the music, culture, and cosmology of the indigenous peoples of the Ojai Valley; Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson in a solo recital of works by Philip Glass, Bach, Debussy, and Rameau; and the Grammy-Award winning Attacca Quartet in a concert of music by John Adams, Rhiannon Giddens, Jessie Montgomery, Caroline Shaw, Gabriella Smith, and Paul Wiancko.

    Ojai welcomes the return of Timo Andres, an Ojai alum from the 2014 Festival, performing I Still Play, a series of works by such composers as Laurie Anderson, John Adams, Louis Andriessen, Donnacha Dennehy, Philip Glass, and Nico Muhly. The series of solo piano works were commissioned as a tribute to legendary Nonesuch Records President Bob Hurwitz.  The recital will also include recent works by Samuel Adams and Gabriella Smith.

    The Festival will honor long-standing ties with the Los Angeles Philharmonic with a concert by members of the LA Phil New Music Group featuring the world premiere of the work Sunt Lacrimae Rerum (these are the tears of things) by Dylan Mattingly. Co-commissioned by the Ojai Music Festival and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, Sunt Lacrimae Rerum is scored for two harps and two de-tuned pianos. Mattingly, who composed the piece during the current pandemic, shares “…the music that I felt, the music that exists in the following pages, was ecstatic — music for dancing, the barbaric yawp, a scream of joy.”

    The 2021 Ojai Festival Orchestra will be drawn from freelance artists and ensembles from Southern California and from around the US. Ojai is pleased to rely on this incredibly talented group of musicians, especially at this time when so many in this community are experiencing significant professional disruption caused by the pandemic. The 2021 Festival is also pleased to welcome back the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO), last appearing in 1993 with Music Director John Adams. The combination of the 2021 Ojai Festival Orchestra, the LA Phil New Music Group, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra represents an important homecoming during this anniversary festival, celebrating the musicians and ensembles who have created the vibrant musical life of Southern California.

    The 75th Festival, and future Festivals, will incorporate elements of its year-round BRAVO education program into the life of the Festival itself. This year, Ojai school children will perform alongside Festival artists in a free family concert. Julie Tumamait, the Tribal Chair of the Barbareño/Ventureńo Band of Mission Indians, will share stories, songs, and dances from the Chumash people. BRAVO education coordinator Laura Walter curates the nature-centered program, which also features a performance by Festival artist Anna Margules playing Gabriela Ortiz’ Huitzitl(the Nahuatl word for hummingbird) for solo recorder. 

    As Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival, composer/conductor John Adams follows 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. The 2022 Festival which bookends the Ojai Music Festival’s 75th anniversary will welcome the American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) as Music Director.

    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 Dawn Upshaw, Vijay Iyer, and Peter Sellars 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 & Executive Director Ara Guzelimian.

    Launching the Festival’s 75th Anniversary Celebration
    To mark the beginning of its 75th anniversary, the Festival will offer musical activities, in accordance with state guidelines, from June to September. As a thank you to the Ojai community, the Festival will present a series of surprise musical pop-ups throughout the town of Ojai featuring Festival collaborators harpist Shelley Burgon, percussionist Fiona Digney, violinist Helen Kim, Kamancheh player Niloufar Shiri, and flutist Laura Walter. Ojai will continue to connect with its global community through newly produced videos throughout the summer.

    Virtual Offerings  
    The Festival continues to offer online content with its ongoing series of virtual Ojai Talks that have featured 2021 Festival artists and composers, including Gabriela Ortiz, Carlos Simon, Miranda Cuckson, Timo Andres, and Samuel Adams. These free offerings and “What’s on your Bookshelf” videos with past Festival artists are available at

    Ojai Talks
    The immersive in-person Festival experience in September will include Ojai Talks featuring Music 
    Director John Adams, resident composers as well as a special morning talk with Chumash Elder Julie Tumamait looking at the Ojai Valley landscape in through Chumash cosmology. 

    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  

    COVID-19 Health and Safety Planning 
    The health and safety of the Festival’s family of artists, audiences and community partners is paramount.  To that end, the Ojai Music Festival is working closely with a COVID-safety advisory team of medical advisors, local, regional, and state officials, and public health authorities, to adhere to the highest standards of health and safety. Safety-related plans will be released and updated as details are confirmed.

    Religious Observance
    For those observing Yom Kippur, please note that the first Festival event, an Ojai Mix – Prelude to a Festival – will begin at 9pm, two hours after sundown on September 16.

    Series Passes for 2021 Ojai Music Festival 
    2021 series subscriptions are available for purchase at, or by reaching the box office at 805 646 2053. All current 2021 subscriptions will be honored during the September dates. Availability and venues for the Ojai Talks and Dawn and Dusk Concerts will be announced in the coming months, based on appropriate capacity guidelines issued by state and county public officials.



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; his stage compositions, many in collaboration with director Peter Sellars, have transformed the genre of contemporary music theatre. Spanning more than three decades, works such as Harmonielehre, Shaker Loops, El Niño and Nixon in China are among the most performed of all contemporary classical music.

As a conductor he has led the world’s major orchestras, programming his own works with a wide variety of repertoire ranging from Beethoven, Mozart and Debussy to Ives, Carter and Ellington. Among his honorary doctorates are those from Yale, Harvard, Northwestern and Cambridge universities and from 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. Since 2009 Mr. Adams has been Creative Chair of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Born and raised in New England, Mr. Adams learned the clarinet from his father and played in marching bands and community orchestras during his formative years. He began composing age ten and his first orchestral pieces were performed while he was still a teenager. In 2017, he celebrated his 70th birthday with festivals of his music in Europe and the US, including special retrospectives at London’s Barbican, Cité de la Musique in Paris, and in Amsterdam, New York and Geneva, among other cities. In 2019 he was the recipient of both Spain’s BBVA ‘Frontiers of Knowledge’ award and Holland’s Erasmus Prize “for notable contributions to European culture, society and social science.”

Conducting highlights in 2019/20 included performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. Mr. Adams made his first appearance with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France in February 2020, giving the European premiere of his latest piano concerto Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? together with  Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson.

Recent recordings include Grammy-nominated albums Doctor Atomic (featuring the BBC Symphony Orchestra and BBC Singers conducted by Mr. Adams, with Gerald Finley and Julia Bullock) and Scheherazade.2, a dramatic symphony for violin and orchestra written for Leila Josefowicz, as well as Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? (written for and performed by Yuja Wang, together with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel) and the Berliner Philharmoniker’s ‘John Adams Edition’, a box set comprising seven of his works, conducted by Rattle, Dudamel, Petrenko, Gilbert and Adams. The official John Adams website is

American Modern Opera Company (AMOC), 2022 Music Director
Culminating the Festival’s 75th anniversary year, 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 Cuckson (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).

In addition to 2021 Festival artist Miranda Cuckson, Julia Bullock, Davóne Tines, and Jay Campbell will make 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. Initial details of AMOC’s 2022 Festival will be announced in the coming months. 

Ara Guzelimian, Artistic & Executive Director
Ara Guzelimian is Artistic & Executive Director of the Ojai Music Festival, beginning in that position in July 2020. The appointment culminates many years of association with the Festival, including tenures as director of the Ojai Talks at the Festival and as Artistic Director 1992-97. Ara 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 it divisions – dance, drama and music. He continues at Juilliard as Special Advisor, Office of the President.

Prior to the Juilliard appointment, he was Senior Director and Artistic Advisor of Carnegie Hall from 1998 to 2006. Mr. Guzelimian currently 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. 

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. 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. 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.

The Ojai Music Festival
The Ojai Music Festival represents an ideal of adventurous, open-minded and open-hearted programming in the most beautiful and welcoming of settings, with audiences and artists to match its aspirations. As its 75th anniversary approaches, the Festival remains a haven 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 shapes 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 Festival related programming as well as robust educational offerings that serve thousands of public-school students and seniors.  The organization’s apex is the world renowned four-day Festival which takes place in early June in Ojai, a breathtaking valley only 75 miles from Los Angeles, that transforms into a 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. Considered a highlight of the international music summer season, Ojai welcomes 7,000 patrons during the intimate Festival weekend and reaches 35 times more audiences worldwide through live and on-demand streaming of concerts and discussions.

Since its founding in 1947, the Ojai Music Festival has presented broad-ranging programs 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 an annual Music Director, Ojai has presented a “who’s who” of music including Vijay Iyer, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, and Barbara Hannigan in recent years and, 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, and Peter Sellars.  Following the cancelled 74th Festival (June 11–14, 2020) with conductor and composer Matthias Pintscher, the Festival’s future with Artistic Director Ara Guzelimian begins in partnership with Ojai’s next music directors: composer/conductor John Adams as Music Director for the 75th Festival (June 10 to 13, 2021) and AMOC (American Modern Opera Company) as Music Director for the 76th Festival (June 9 to 12, 2022).


September 16 – 19, 2021

Thurs, Sept 09.16.21
9pm, Libbey Bowl
Ojai Mix – Prelude to a Festival

Miranda Cuckson, violin
Amy Schroeder, violin
Nathan Schram, viola
Anna Margules, recorder
Attacca Quartet

Gabriela ORTIZ   Huitzitl
Carlos SIMON   Between Worlds
Timo ANDRES    Early to Rise
Dylan MATTINGLY   Magnolia
Samuel ADAMS   Violin Diptych
Gabriella SMITH   Maré

Fri, Sept 09.17.21
8am, location TBD
Ojai Talks

Chumash stories with Chumash Elder Julie Tumamait 

Fri, Sept 09.17.21
11am, Libbey Bowl
Attacca Quartet with Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens, vocalist
Attacca Quartet

John ADAMS   Selections from Book of Alleged Dances
Paul WIANCKO   Benkei’s Standing Death
Caroline SHAW   Plan and Elevation
Rhiannon GIDDENS  Factory Girl
Rhiannon GIDDENS   Build a House
Rhiannon GIDDENS   At the Purchaser’s Option
Gabriella SMITH   Carrot Revolution


Fri, Sept 09.17.21
3pm-4:30pm, location TBD
Sessions will include conversations with Music Director John Adams and Festival composers along with brief

Fri, Sept 09.17.21
8pm, Libbey Bowl
John Adams conducts the Ojai Festival Orchestra

Julie Tumamait, Chumash Elder
Miranda Cuckson, violin
Timo Andres, piano
Emily Levin, harp 
John Adams, conductor
Ojai Festival Orchestra

Chumash Welcome
DEBUSSY   Danse sacrée et danse profane
Samuel ADAMS   Chamber Concerto   West Coast Premiere
Ingram MARSHALL   Flow
Timo ANDRES  Running Theme


Sat, Sept 09.18.21
8am, location TBD
Ojai Dawns 

Anna Margules, recorder

Mario LAVISTA  Ofrenda
Gabriela ORTIZ   Huitzitl
Manuel ROCHA    Trama de tramas
Arturo FUENTES   Toro Mariposa
Gabriela ORTIZ   Canto en Soledad
Alejandra HERNÁNDEZ   Veulos
Gabriela ORTIZ   Canto a hanna

Sat, Sept 09.18.21
11am. Libbey Bowl
Víkingur Ólafsson in recital

Víkingur Ólafsson, piano 

Music by Philip Glass, Bach, Debussy, and Rameau 

Sat, Sept 09.18.21
4:30pm, location TBD
Dusk Concert

Miranda Cuckson, violin

Anthony CHEUNG   Character Studies Mvnt one – Dramatis Personnae, Mvnt two – [untitled] Dai FUJIKURA   Prism Spectra
J.S. BACH    D Minor Partita No.2. Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, & Gigue
Kaija SAARIAHO  Frises


Sat, Sept 09.18.21 
8pm, Libbey Bowl
They’re Calling Me Home

Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi

Having spent the past year away from in-person concerts, Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi found themselves drawn to the music of their native and adoptive countries of America, Italy, and Ireland. The result is their latest album, They’re Calling Me Home, which speaks of the longing for the comfort of home as well as the metaphorical “call home” of death, which has been a tragic reality for so many throughout the past year.

Sun, Sept 09.19.21
8am, Libbey Bowl
I Still Play

Timo Andres, piano 

Philip GLASS  Evening Song No. 2
Nico MUHLY  Move
Timo ANDRES    Wise Words
Steve REICH    For Bob
Louis ANDRIESSON   Rimsky or La Monte Young
Laurie ANDERSON   Song for Bob
Donnacha DENNEHY   Her Wits (About Him)
Brad MEHLDAU  LA Pastorale
John ADAMS   I Still Play
Samuel ADAMS  Impromptus 
Gabriella SMITH  Imaginary Pancake 

Sun, Sept 09.19.21 
11am, Libbey Bowl
LA Phil New Music Group

LA Phil New Music Group

Gabriela ORTIZ   Rió de las Mariposas
inti figgis-vizueta   To give you form and breath
John ADAMS  Hallelujah Junction
Esa-Pekka SALONEN   Objets Trouvés   First concert performance
Dylan MATTINGLY  Sunt Lacrimae Rerum (these are the tears of things) World Premiere


Sun, Sept 09.19.21
5:30pm, Libbey Bowl
Festival Finale

Rhiannon Giddens, vocalist
Víkingur Ólafsson, piano
John Adams, conductor  
Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (LACO)

Carlos SIMON   Fate Now Conquers
MOZART  Piano Concerto in C minor, K491
John ADAMS    Am I in Your Light (from Dr Atomic)
John ADAMS    Consuelo’s Dream (from I was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I saw the sky)
Gabriela ORTIZ   La Calaca   World Premiere of revised version


Programs and artists are subject to change. As of May 26, 2021

Press contacts:
Ojai Music Festival: Gina Gutierrez, [email protected], 805 646 2181
National/International: Nikki Scandalios, [email protected], 704 340 4094