2023 Virtual Ojai Talks
Get an inside look at the creative process with our free Virtual Ojai Talks, where we celebrate the intersection of music and ideas with the 2023 Festival artists, composers, innovators, and thinkers. Virtual Talks are free and open to the musically curious!
Next Up! Virtual Ojai Talks featuring 2023 artist and multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi on Sunday December 11, 5pm-6pm Pacific Time.
About Francesco Turrisi, 2023 Festival artist
Grammy award winning multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi has been defined a “musical alchemist” and a “musical polyglot” by the press. He left his native Italy in 1997 to study jazz piano and early music at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where he obtained a Bachelor and a Master’s degree. Since 2004 he has been working successfully as a freelance musician.
He has released five critically acclaimed albums as a leader and two as co-leader (“Tarab” a cross boundary innovative ensemble that blends Irish and Mediterranean traditional music, and “Zahr” a project that looks at connections between southern Italian traditional music and Arabic music).His latest piano solo album “Northern Migrations” was described as “delicate, wistful and wholly engrossing” by the Irish Times. Francesco is also a member of the celebrated early music ensemble L’Arpeggiata. With l’Arpeggiata he has performed at the most important classical music festivals in Europe and around the world (Turkey, Russia, China, Australia, New Zealand, Brasil, Colombia) and has recorded for Warner, Virgin, Naive and Alpha.
Since 2018 he collaborates with American grammy award winning singer and multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens, on a duo project that seamlessly combines music from the Mediterranean with music from the African diaspora in the Americas. In 2019 Giddens and Turrisi released their critically acclaimed duo album “there is no Other”. The album single “I’m on my way” was nominated for a 2020 Grammy Award. Their 2021 second duo album “They’re calling me home” was nominated for two Grammy awards and won as best folk album at the 2022 Grammy awards. Francesco currently performs on piano, accordion, harpsichord, organ, various lutes, cello banjo, frame and goblet drums.
He is equally at home playing with jazz veterans Dave Liebman and Gianluigi Trovesi as he is with Irish traditional sean-nós singer Roisin El Safty and with tarantella specialist Lucilla Galeazzi. Turrisi has toured with Bobby McFerrin, interpreted the music of Steve Reich with Bang on a Can All Stars, accompanied flamenco star Pepe El Habichuela and Greek singer Savina Yannatou.
Watch Virtual Ojai Talks with Rhiannon Giddens
About Rhiannon Giddens
The acclaimed musician Rhiannon Giddens uses her art to excavate the past and reveal bold truths about our present. A MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Giddens co-founded the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops. She most recently won a Grammy Award for Best Folk Album for They’re Calling Me Home, and was also nominated for Best American Roots Song for “Avalon” from They’re Calling Me Home, which she made with multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi. Giddens is now a two-time winner and eight-time Grammy nominee for her work as a soloist and collaborator.
They’re Calling Me Home was released by Nonesuch last April and has been widely celebrated by the NY Times, NPR Music, NPR, Rolling Stone, People, Associated Press and far beyond, with No Depression deeming it “a near perfect album…her finest work to date.” Recorded over six days in the early phase of the pandemic in a small studio outside of Dublin, Ireland – where both Giddens and Turrisi live – They’re Calling Me Home manages to effortlessly blend the music of their native and adoptive countries: America, Italy, and Ireland. The album speaks of the longing for the comfort of home as well as the metaphorical “call home” of death.
Giddens’s lifelong mission is to lift people whose contributions to American musical history have previously been erased, and to work toward a more accurate understanding of the country’s musical origins. Pitchfork has said of her work, “few artists are so fearless and so ravenous in their exploration,” and Smithsonian Magazine calls her “an electrifying artist who brings alive the memories of forgotten predecessors, white and black.”
Among her many diverse career highlights, Giddens has performed for the Obamas at the White House and received an inaugural Legacy of Americana Award from Nashville’s National Museum of African American History in partnership with the Americana Music Association. Her critical acclaim includes in-depth profiles by CBS Sunday Morning, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and NPR’s Fresh Air, among many others.
Giddens was featured in Ken Burns’s Country Music series, which aired on PBS, where she spoke about the African American origins of country music. She is also a member of the band Our Native Daughters with three other black female banjo players, Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell, and Amythyst Kiah, and co-produced their debut album Songs of Our Native Daughters (2019), which tells stories of historic black womanhood and survival.
Giddens is in the midst of a tremendous 2022. She announced the publication of her first book, Build a House (October 2022), Lucy Negro Redux, the ballet Giddens wrote the music for, had its premiere at the Nashville Ballet (premiered in 2019 and toured in 2022), and the libretto and music for Giddens’ original opera, Omar, in collaboration with Michael Abels, based on the autobiography of the enslaved man Omar ibn Said, premiered at the Spoleto USA Festival in May. Giddens is also curating a four-concert Perspectives series as part of Carnegie Hall’s 2022–2023 season. Named Artistic Director of Silkroad Ensemble in 2020, Giddens is developing a number of new programs for that ensemble, including one inspired by the history of the American transcontinental railroad and the cultures and music of its builders.
She made her Ojai debut for the celebratory 75th Ojai Music Festival with Music Director John Adams in September 2021.
As an actor, Giddens had a featured role on the television series Nashville.
Rhiannon Giddens photo by Ebru Yildiz