Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated with the Ojai Music Festival.
Anna Thorvaldsdottir is a composer who frequently works with large sonic structures that tend to reveal the presence of a vast variety of sustained sound materials, reflecting her sense of imaginative listening to landscapes and nature. Her music tends to portray a flowing world of sounds with an enigmatic lyrical atmosphere.
Chinary Ung was the first American composer to win the highly coveted and international Grawemeyer Award (1989), sometimes called the Nobel prize for music composition. Among other honors, Ung has received awards from The Kennedy Center (Friedheim award), The American Academy of Arts and Letters, Asia Foundation, Asian Cultural Council, Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, Joyce Foundation, and The National Endowment for the Arts.
Wang Huiran 王惠然 was born in 1936 in Shanghai, China. He started learning pipa and liuqin (a smaller version of Chinese lute) at the age of 13 and became profesional soloist in several musical troups during his early career. In 1957 Wang was selected to go to Moscau State Radio Station and recorded several traditional pipa solo pieces. His own composition “Merry dancing under the moon” received excellent comments. In 1960, Wang composed the celebrated “Dance of the Yi people” which has becomes the classical pipa composition that can be heard almost every where in China.
Drawing inspiration from folk, classical, and rock genres, Julia Wolfe’s music brings a modern sensibility to each while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them.
Her music is distinguished by an intense physicality and a relentless power that pushes performers to extremes and demands attention from the audience. In the words of the Wall Street Journal, Wolfe has “long inhabited a terrain of [her] own, a place where classical forms are recharged by the repetitive patterns of minimalism and the driving energy of rock.”
Iannis Xenakis is one of the leaders of modernism in music, a hugely influential composer, particularly in the later 1950s and 1960s, when he was experimenting with compositional techniques that soon entered the basic vocabulary of the twentieth-century avant garde.
Evan Ziporyn (b. 1959, Chicago) makes music at the crossroads between genres and cultures, east and west. He studied at Eastman, Yale & UC Berkeley with Joseph Schwantner, Martin Bresnick, & Gerard Grisey. He first traveled to Bali in 1981, studying with Madé Lebah, Colin McPhee’s 1930s musical informant. He returned on a Fulbright in 1987.
Terry Riley (1935 -) is often credited with the dual title of being the father of both the Minimalist movement and psychedelic rock. His career has had a profound influence on a range of musicians and composers, including Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams, as well groups such as The Who, The Soft Machine and Tangerine Dream. His work today includes close collaboration with the Kronos Quartet. Riley’s pieces showcase both his his experiments in process music and his deep study of Indian classical forms, resulting in a trailblazing career that has spanned over half a century.
Writing only 84 minutes of music in the entirety of his career, Carl Ruggles’ eight published works nonetheless attest to his complete dedication to atonality and ultra-modernism. Ruggle’s prickly personality was paired with a meticulously deliberate compositional process – Michael Tilson Thomas recalled visiting the composer and hearing him play “every sonority, every chord . . . once, twice, 10, 20, 50, perhaps hundreds of times, as loud as he could, because as he said to me, ‘I thought that if I could still stand the sound . . . after a hundred times or so, it would sound pretty good a couple of hundred years from now!”
Composer, conductor, and creative thinker – John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of American music. His works, both operatic and symphonic, stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes. Over the past 25 years, Adams’s music has played a decisive role in turning the tide of contemporary musical aesthetics away from academic modernism and toward a more expansive, expressive language, entirely characteristic of his New World surroundings.
Called “one of the most original musical thinkers of the new century” (Alex Ross, The New Yorker), John Luther Adams is a composer whose life and work are deeply rooted in the natural world.
Adams composes for orchestra, chamber ensembles, percussion and electronic media, and his music is recorded on Cold Blue, New World, Mode, Cantaloupe, and New Albion.
Eivind Buene studied pedagogics and composition at the Norwegian State Academy of Music from 1992 to 1998, and in 1999 and 2000 he was composer in residence with the Oslo Sinfonietta. Since 2000 he has been a freelance composer living and working in Oslo, writing for a wide array of ensembles and orchestras. He has recieved commissions from among others Ensemble Intercontemporain, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Fondation Royaumont and most of the Norwegian Orchestras and ensembles.
One of the most important figures in the current flowering of Icelandic music is Hafliði Hallgrímsson, born in 1941 in the small town of Akureyri on the north coast of Iceland. He began playing the cello at the age of ten and studied in Reykjavik and Accademia Santa Cecilia in Rome. On returning from Rome, he continued his studies in London with Derek Simpson at the Royal Academy of Music and was awarded the coveted Madame Suggia Prize in 1966.
“It reminds me of something I’ve never heard.” Such was the spontaneous reaction of the Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim upon hearing a work by Bent Sørensen. And it is not easy to imagine a more strangely to-the-point description of the ambiguous, almost paradoxical expressive idiom of this unique composer, who is without doubt the leading Danish composer of his generation. Sørensen’s music is not recycled, in no way does it rely on the yellowing pages of history for its musical nourishment his musical language is undeniably of the present day, both aesthetically and technically.