The Festival Advantage

Each fall, about 15 of my peers who lead the top classical music festivals of the Western United States gather.  This year, we converged in Portland for three days of lively discussion about the future of audiences, role of the Internet in reaching audiences and artists, ways we can collaborate on various projects, and learning more about the artistic successes of each of our pursuits.  As I made my way back to Ojai, I was struck by the advantage festivals have over traditional orchestras, in that we have much greater freedom and opportunity to explore a broader range of repertoire and more meaningful ways of connecting to our audiences.

Ojai in particular holds a great advantage in that all of its concerts and events are packed into just four days.  There is no other festival that offers so many opportunities in such a condensed time period.  This also gives Ojai another advantage that all of its artists are present at the same time.  Rarely do audience members or artists come in and out during the festival…you are either in Ojai for the festival or not!

While it is clear that each festival is working significantly harder to maintain their programs (Ojai is not an exception to this!), each of us are still finding new, passionate audiences for our work when we hold a clear artistic perspective and stick with it.

…….for those of you who know or plan to visit Portland, let me share a few highlights.  We ate at Andino Peruvian Tapas restaurant in the Pearl District.  This was a fantastic restaurant and we were feted with a taste of the entire menu!  My favorites were the empanadas, ceviche, and hand made licorice chocolate truffles. The space was also quite interesting as it had many different rooms and nooks.  I also enjoyed starting my day at the Pearl Bakery with one of their incredible breads cooked on the premises.  Finally, a highlight of the trip was meeting Michael Powell, owner of the famous Powells Books.  He hosted us for a reception in his rare book room and we talked about how he has made book buying an experience and not just a transaction.  Of course, Portland was cloudy most of the time, but the periodic rain adds to the charm of this vibrant city. Next year, Aspen…