Musical Segues: Where they are now


Musical Segues is a recurring segment of the Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO education & community program that introduces our amazing alumni, who either went through the BRAVO program via the Ojai Valley public schools or participated in our Festival Arts Management Internship program.

Every month we will give glimpses into their world, personal journeys, and how music made an impact on their lives.

Kari Frances

“BRAVO programs have fostered a supportive community of musicians and a culture of concertizing that helped define Ojai’s musical ecosystem, which I definitely benefited from. I can’t stress enough how important it was to see the vocal groups Sovoso at Nordhoff, and the Yale Spizzwinks , and how excited that got me for exploring a cappella in college.”




What was your experience of music when you were young?

During elementary school, I began singing with Harmonia Mundi, the youth incarnation of Madrigali (a renaissance a cappella group with which my dad, Wayne Francis, sang, which was directed by Jaye Hersh). I think my most direct participation with BRAVO was in high school through the Ojai Youth Symphony and occasional collaborations with Santa Barbara Youth Symphony. I dove into as many music ensembles as I could at Nordhoff High School, primarily under the direction/tutelage of Bill Wagner.

What are your memories of the Ojai Music Festival and Libbey Park?
The Ojai Festival programmed Ligeti’s Poème symphonique at some point; I recall helping manage some of the metronomes for the performance. My parents still have the t-shirt! I also played percussion in Ojai Band, played a little piano at Holy Cross Lutheran Church and in a few of the Holiday Home Look-in fundraisers, and continued to sing with Harmonia Mundi, which collaborated with the Ojai Shakespeare Festival during the summer.

Have you continued to study music?
I became deeply involved with collegiate a cappella during college at UC San Diego, joining two student groups as well as an LA-based septet and founding a professional sextet while majoring in music theory (and minoring in Japanese Studies and amassing credits in visual arts classes, both of which remain hobbies). Since then I’ve worked as a freelance vocal/choral arranger, written for or edited books relating to a cappella, caught a fun break and was able to perform an a cappella tune with Imogen Heap when she toured to San Diego in 2010, was on a reality TV show called “The Sing-Off” (Season 3 with the group Kinfolk 9), received master’s degrees in music education from the Eastman School of Music and Teachers College Columbia University, was a conducting fellow with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, co-directed a treble barbershop chorus, the Sirens of Gotham, to a first-place finish at an international competition, and was a teaching artist and adjunct professor at Hunter College and The New School for a few years before my current position.

What are you currently up to?
I am on faculty at the College of Saint Rose, as a choral director and instructor of ear training, music theory, and choral arranging. Most recently, I put together a virtual choir video (which features some Ojai singers!) when the College campus was shut down halfway through the spring semester of 2020, and a project I was involved with was featured in the New York Times (composed by Cory Smythe, who was a regular at the Ojai Music Festival the years they hosted the International Contemporary Ensemble a while ago). My hope is to finish my doctorate at some point in the not-so-distant future, emphasizing musicianship-building and generative/improvisatory practices in choral settings, which is where I hope to continue working. Visit Kari’s website here 

Ryan Strand


“If you are looking for an experience the is going to challenge you, Ojai is definitely that experience…there is real family here and so much knowledge and mentoring to be gained.”

This month we highlight Ryan Strand, who was our first Steven Rothenberg Intern Fellow and continued on to become one of our cracker-jack assistant producers. Learn more about Ryan on his website here 

Interested in the Festival’s Arts Management Internship program? Click here for details and application >


Emily Redmond Hall







Nordhoff High School Graduate and
University of Redlands Graduate

What BRAVO programs did you participate in during K-6th grade
 when you attended school in Ojai?  What do you most remember? 
I went to Summit Elementary, Matilija Middle School and Nordhoff High School. I started singing and playing piano at the age of 6. Going to the BRAVO Imagine concert and performing in High School were enjoyable highlights! I loved the Music Van experience at Ojai Day and chose to play the flute in school. I went on to earn my college degree in classical voice.  
How did your early experiences influence your life now? What are you working in? 
To have a world-renowned Music Festival in our own tiny little town is so cool and so rewarding. Being able to volunteer there as a teenager was so important to me because it opened my eyes to what classical music could be—it wasn’t just Bach and Beethoven, it could be all these weird, contemporary works that I just loved and they were so inventive. It’s not usual for a someone to be exposed to this music, much less a teenager in a tiny little town. 
How has music impacted your life? What is your involvement with music now? Do you see yourself being involved in music in your future? What are your hopes around that?  
Performing gives me great pride and peace at the same time. Now I teach children age 3-10 at the Ventura Music Academy. I am one of the vocal directors at Ojai Youth Entertainer Studio. Being able to help young singers find their voice is an awesome thing that I get to do. Working with kids is particularly rewarding and just nourishing for the soul. It really is like passing the baton to them. Contributing to their musical education, when I had so many contribute to mine, is so cool. And I get to pass that on and watch as they grow and their skills and talents just flourish and know that I had a part in that and that they will always remember their formative musical experiences growing up. I’m always so grateful for the opportunities that I get to work with youth. 
I am also involved with Ojai’s theater community, having done several shows at the Ojai Art Center. I sing and get to help to direct Madrigali, Ojai’s local renaissance acapella vocal group.   






Emily Praetorius

“It’s quite unmatched in terms of the camaraderie, the friendship and bonding that happens….You really feel like you are part of this family.”

Growing up in Ojai, Emily recalls receiving free tickets to attend a Festival concert through BRAVO and got her first musical glimpse into the world of Percy Grainger. She went off to college at University of Redlands then applied to the Festival’s Arts Management Internship program where she learned everything from working retail (fond memories of our Penguin Book Booth) to eventually becoming the esteemed Rothenberg Intern Fellow. Now finishing her doctorate in composition at Columbia University under the tutelage of 2017 resident composer George Lewis, Emily continues her love of music and applying what she learned at the Festival in her current path.

Kathryn Carlson

Arts Management Intern (2017-2019)
Cal State Long Beach graduate 










What interested you in applying to the Festival?
My first experience with the Ojai Music Festival was as a guest. I was visiting my boyfriend in his hometown of Ojai in the summer of 2016 when he told me that a music festival was going to be happening downtown. I looked into it expecting to find a folk or pop music festival and was surprised to find that it was centered on contemporary classical music. As a trained contemporary classical cellist myself, I knew I had to attend! Peter Sellars was the Music Director in 2016, and that year I was impressed to see that there was a focus on music written by women. To this day one of my favorite memories is laying on the festival lawn absorbing the sounds of Roomful of Teeth singing Caroline Shaw’s Partita for 8 Voices.

A year later while I was studying at UCSB, our department put out a notice that the Ojai Festival was looking for interns. After what I’d experienced the year before, I had to be involved, and that’s how I ended up applying for the first time in 2017.

What was my favorite Ojai experience?
This may sound odd but one of my favorite experiences was when a guest came up to the box office outraged by the music he had heard and demanded his money back because it “wasn’t music” in his opinion. I watched the Box Office Manager at that time calmly have a long, in-depth conversation with the customer about the nature of the piece, and I’ll never forget how such a meaningful conversation had been inspired by an initially negative reaction. The customer walked away with a different mindset, and even though he may not have personally enjoyed that particular performance, many other audience members after the concert came out saying how much they loved what they had just heard. I love that Ojai produces challenging experiences that we can talk about and use to learn about each other.

What was an a-ha moment working in any of the Festival departments?
Honestly, an a-ha moment during my first year as an intern was realizing that the core team of the Ojai Music Festival is small. It’s extremely impressive that this small group of people completely transforms a local park into a world-class festival venue in the span of just a week. It’s inspiring that so much can happen with a small, dedicated group of people.

What are you up to now?
I graduated just this spring from California State Long Beach with my Masters in Instrumental Performance. I currently have a small studio of cello students and also work part time on the side. I’ve been participating in a virtual ensemble that my housemate started at the beginning of the quarantine called the Philanthropic Philharmonic (@philanthropicphilharmonic) which puts together recordings of musicians from all over in order to raise money for charity. I’ve also been working on making arrangements for one to four cellos that I record myself and edit together. I’m hoping to release some soon once I have them all polished. Follow me @kathrynmakesmusic on Instagram if you’re interested in following my progress!

Ruben Salinas

“I find that music is an emotional outlet for me. It’s the thing that gives me the greatest passion.”

Musical Segues is our ongoing segment of the Ojai Festival’s BRAVO education & community program that introduces alumni, who either went through the BRAVO program via the Ojai Valley public schools or participated in our Festival Arts Management Internship program.

This month features Ruben Salinas who went through various music programs in the Ojai Valley including our BRAVO in the schools. Raised in Ojai and a graduate from CalState University Northridge’s music program, Ruben has been an active musician playing saxophone in recording studios and concerts for such artists as Eric Burdon, Noble Creatures, Kenny Loggins, and Jewel. In years past before the pandemic, you could also find him sharing his music at Ojai stomping grounds like the Vine. 


Emily Persinko

Meet Emily Persinko, who interned with the Ojai Music Festival from 2016 to 2018. After graduating from San Diego State University, Emily has been working in various arts administrator roles for performing arts organizations, which have included the San Diego Symphony, Art of Elan, La Jolla Music Society, San Diego Youth Symphony, and San Diego State University School of Music and Dance.  Emily currently leads the operation of the San Diego Symphony’s learning and community engagement programs and serves as a director on the board for the San Diego Flute Guild.

Adryon de León

Nordhoff High School Graduate

Adryon de León was born and raised in Ojai, CA. Over formative years, musical theater infused her life. She has performed background vocals for Macy Gray, Patti Austin, The Growlers, and George Clinton. In 2013, she joined the acclaimed Los Angeles-based soul & funk group Orgone. Orgone’s most recent release, 
Reasons, features tracks spotlighting de León in a main writing and collaborative role. She also lends her voice to commercial studio sessions worldwide, demoing tracks for production companies. In Spring 2019, Adryon appeared as “Alana” in a production of The Little Mermaid: Live-to-Film at the Hollywood Bowl, featuring Lea Michele, Harvey Fierstein , Peter Gallagher, Cheech Marin, and Leo Gallo.

What BRAVO programs did you participate in during K-6th grade when you attended school in Ojai?  What do you most remember?
I went on an Ojai Music Festival-sponsored field trip to the Imagine Concert at the Libbey Bowl to see LA Philharmonic perform “Peter & the Wolf” for the students!  The exposure to this performance captured the attention of every single child in the audience, for the entire sitting. Sonically, the feeling of the orchestra for the first time was overwhelming. It made me want to pick up my instrument and make some noise.  I played flute in concert band, grades 4-6!  

How has music impacted your life? What is your involvement with music now? Do you see yourself being involved in music in your future? What are your hopes around that? 
Music is now my entire life. I transitioned to full time professional vocalist in 2011, touring worldwide with my band Orgone, working in Los Angeles providing vocals for film, television, demos, background vocals, and live performances. Eight years ago was cast at the Disneyland resort as a featured principal performer. 

I can’t imagine myself not fully immersed in a music career in the future, whether it be as an instructor, mentor, or performer. My hope is to foster a comprehensive music career while I am able and to leave a positive legacy.  

How did your early experiences influence your life now? What are you working in?
Music infiltrated every aspect of my life as a child. My mom is musical, my siblings are involved in various projects, and Ojai fostered a beautiful community of artistic kids just like me. I’m currently majoring in Business Administration and working as many studio projects from home as I can. I’m also working on my solo record and collaborating with other artists.  

Dominique Wright

Arts Management Intern
Occidental College, Class of 2020

What interested you in applying to the Festival?
I applied to the Festival the summer after my freshman year as my Chamber Music coach told me about the program. I had just gotten into social media marketing at my school (Occidental College) and we agreed this would be a great opportunity to improve those skills as well see what happens behind the scenes – there’s A LOT that goes on.

Eventually, I went on to intern at the Festival for three years: 2017, 2018 and 2019. During those formative summers, I was able to work in three different areas: marketing, retail and the box office.

Enjoying time away from the office with the 2017 Festival interns.

What was your favorite Ojai experience?
I have to say my favorite Ojai experience were outings the interns did together. While we all had busy days, we always had time – at least before the Festival started – for ourselves, and most of the time we would go out for dinner, go to the beach or on a hike. These are your colleagues for the two to three weeks while we are in Ojai, so these outings felt like co-workers hanging out and just recharging for the next day.

L-R: Kathryn Carlson, Dominique Wright, Lucy McKnight

What was an “a-ha” moment working in any of the Festival departments?
Working in the box office, I was able to interact with patrons and the ticketing system which helped me see where our guests were coming from. There were people who would travel hours to come to the Festival. It was an amazing discovery because it showed the impact it had on people and how music brings people together. That’s something I aim to achieve in my career, whatever that may be!

What are you up to now?
This past May, I graduated from Occidental College with a BA in Flute performance and a minor in media studies. Currently I am applying to grad programs for arts administration as well as marketing and looking for jobs to gain more experience, and honestly, keeping myself busy in quarantine. Working in the arts field was never a future I saw for myself until interning at the Festival. I’m aware that my future jobs may not be the same as a festival environment, but this internship was what I always looked forward to throughout the school year; knowing that at the end, I get to go back and be with my Ojai family.

In fact, I’m not the only one who has these career goals, some intern alumni have already started making their mark in the arts workplace, some of which you’ll be hearing from very soon. I look forward to sharing their stories these next several months!

About the Arts Management Internship program

Back to school with BRAVO

by Laura Walter, BRAVO education coordinator 

Passed by Congress in 2010, House Resolution 275 designates the week beginning with the second Sunday in September as National Arts in Education Week. During this week, the field of arts education joins together in communities across the country to tell the story of the impact of the transformative power of the arts in education. 

As we begin our school year and recognize how the arts have a significant impact on students, the Festival’s BRAVO education & community program commits to the joy of promoting arts education in our local schools and community. 

Music activates both sides of the brain and ties together the auditory system with memory, visual, and movement systems. Often times, children who have learning challenges can shine through music. They learn to interpret symbols, which translates to better reading and math skills.

The opportunity for them to express themselves leads to better self-esteem, and a stronger community. Making music together cultivates a sense of belonging, and leads to a more stable child and adult.

Research has shown that strong social skills are the best indicator of life-long success. Creating music together requires that we listen to each other. We must be regardful of another. And we lend a helping hand so that the whole ensemble excels.

Participating in our local school music programs helps students grow and learn about being part of something that is bigger than ourselves. Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra remarks, “I have a definition of success. For me, it’s very simple. It’s not about wealth and fame and power. It’s about how many shining eyes I have around me…if the eyes are shining, you know you’re doing it. If the eyes are not shining, you get to ask a question. And this is the question: who am I being that my players’ eyes are not shining? We can do that with our children, too. Who am I being, that my children’s eyes are not shining? That’s a totally different world.” 

The Festival’s BRAVO program impacts 2,800 children and provides 1,075 free workshops yearly. Many thanks to the Ojai Festival Women’s Committee and the many local volunteers who support this integral program in the schools. 

What teachers are saying about the importance of music in the schools: 

“Education Through Music is valuable for many reasons. I enjoy going to the weekly class and participating with my students. With Ms. Laura’s instruction we are learning about music, song, dance, rhythm and at the same time listening, sharing, cooperating and having fun without “crossing the line” into silliness. A student in my class struggled with academics and behavior in the classroom, but he was a shining star in music class. I enjoyed watching him participate and be a leader to his peers as he was often one of Ms. Laura’s helpers in the activities. All the students are made to feel special and important. A big emphasis is placed on the instructor knowing each student’s name and using it throughout the class in different activities. The relationship the students have built with Ms. Laura over the years (some of the 3rd grade students have been working with her since kindergarten) is wonderful, and part of the reason they look forward to music class.” – Ms. Plott, 3rd, Meiners Oaks Elementary


“Because of Laura’s work teaching my students much needed social skills through play and music my class not only continued to grow as young human beings, but they learned acceptance, tolerance and kindness while being taught music. I believe that the Education Through Music program has been a vital support to all our students’ learning. By attending ETM each week the students in my class learned how to stay interested and engaged in an activity. The students learned how to be positive members of a group (the class). In addition, each week through play and music the students were encouraged and taught how to take risks and deal with the fear of standing up in front of their peers. Together with Laura, we worked to increase each child’s self-confidence in order to develop better communication, conflict resolution skills, and better listening skills amongst all the students which was evidenced by increased academic achievement and decreased social-emotional behavior problems.” – Ms. Mejia-Holdsworth, 2nd, Topa Topa Elementary

Learn more about National Arts in Education Week 

Meet Our 2018 Interns!

Each year, the Ojai Music Festival Arts Management Internship Program welcomes 12-14 college students and recent graduates to go behind the scenes of a renowned summer music festival. We are very excited to introduce this year’s wonderful interns!

Glenna Adkins:
Glenna Adkins is a cellist and improviser who grew up in Los Angeles. She currently studies music and writing at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. As an instrumentalist, composer, and avid music listener, she is passionate about the performance of new music, as well as the collaborative process between artists. Inspired by the intersection of different art forms, Glenna also composes and performs for works of derived theater and dance, exploring ideas of musical narrative through extended techniques. She has worked at REDCAT and at Reisinger Concert Hall and has recorded as a session musician in several film soundtracks. Additionally, Glenna is interested in issues of sustainability and has served as an Education Intern at the Science Barge in Yonkers, NY, giving school children guided tours of the institution’s hydroponic growing systems.


Peter Appleby:
Peter Appleby is a resident of Santa Paula and has developed a great appreciation for community events and local music festivals. After graduating from Villanova Prep School this spring, Peter will be studying International Relations at California Lutheran University in the fall. An amateur musician himself, Peter has had the privilege of participating in Claire Chase’s performance of PAN in 2017 through the Ojai Music Festival. He is excited to return to Ojai this summer and is eager to help with the festival.



Zoe Appleby:
Zoe Appleby is a Southern California resident who is lucky enough to have been involved in the Ojai Music Festival for three years now. For undergraduate school, Zoe attended Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, CA, where she studied the greatest works of Western thought and literature in a Great Books Program. After spending six weeks in the summer of 2017 in Rome, Italy, studying art history, she decided that the academic field of art history was where she passions lay. Zoe has since been accepted into UC Riverside’s Art History department as an MA student studying medieval art history. After eventually completing her Ph.D. at a different institution, she would be interested in both teaching and researching at the college level and perhaps curating at a museum. She is passionate about bringing the arts to the public, and she has found the Ojai Music Festival to be an amazing event for her to experience the worlds where art and business meet to make something truly beautiful. She recently held a curatorial internship at the Santa Paula Art Museum, an institution which, like the Ojai Music Festival, embodies the spirit of artistic progress and public outreach. Zoe can usually be found swimming at one of the Southern California beaches, or rock-climbing in the cliffs above Ojai.

Maddi Baird:
Maddi Baird is an undergraduate music composition major at San Diego State University. She has had a passion for music and the arts from a young age, and has carried this passion by playing French horn, bass guitar, and by playing in SDSU’s Javanese Gamelan. While studying under Dr. Joseph Waters and Dr. Chris Warren, she has developed a passion for synthesis and analog synthesizers. In the future, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in film scoring. Within her first semester at SDSU, she has acquired a position at their student union as an Audio-Visual technician and is the recipient of the Frank McCarty Endowed Scholarship in Music Composition. Maddi spends her free time volunteering at Ship in The Woods, a nonprofit art museum. She also has a radio show for KCR College Radio.

Byron Beasley:
Byron Beasley studies music technology at San Diego State University. He has been playing musical instruments since the age of 9 and currently composes music for the Trombone Ensemble at San Diego State. Byron also works as a studio technician at San Diego State, and has experience working with a variety of clients on a daily basis. At the studio, Byron’s job consists of assisting clients with audio and visual productions.
In high school, he worked as a section leader of the brass section, and has performed with a variety of ensembles. Byron also has experience playing in jazz band, marching bands, and wind ensembles (with jazz band being his favorite). He loves to listen to jazz in his free time and enjoys exercising as well. Byron has also composed music for a few video games, and so his diverse experiences in music make him a well-rounded musician, producer, and composer. His greatest aspiration is to work in the music and entertainment industry. Byron loves working behind the scenes to ensure that a product can come to fruition.

Kathryn Carlson:
Kathryn Carlson is a cellist who will soon be receiving her diploma for her Bachelor of Music degree in Instrumental Performance with cello emphasis from the UCSB music department. She is interested in pursuing new music, which she became involved in during her sophomore year of high school after being introduced to it by her music theory teacher Mr. Hertzog (composer for the kung-fu film Bloodsport). She has been a member of the UCSB Ensemble for Contemporary Music (ECM) throughout her time at UCSB and has performed new works in various concerts, including the 2016 UCSB Summer Music Festival, and the Beethoven, New Music, and Cupcake Bar concert hosted by the Now Hear Ensemble. In 2016 she was awarded the ECM Distinguished Performance Award and has recently performed in master classes hosted by The Knights and the Juilliard String Quartet. Having been an intern for the 2017 Ojai Music Festival, she is looking forward to joining the fantastic Ojai Music Festival team once again.

Alberto Cruz:
Alberto Cruz is a composer and recording engineer, currently studying composition at the California Institute of the Arts. During his time there, he has studied with, and continues to work with, Anne LeBaron, Matthias Webber, Karen Tanaka, Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, John Baffa, and Bob Clendenen. He has fully committed himself to a curriculum at CalArts consisting of composition for film and media, as well as recording and mixing in both live and studio settings. Currently, Alberto works for the School of Film/Video at CalArts running various recording sessions for ADR, spoken word, foley, and music. He also works for the Herb Alpert School of music, recording for live and studio musicians, running a webcast/lighting board for live shows, and acting as a producer/promoter for various shows. When not at CalArts, he works as a studio intern for Matthew Snyder at Allegro Recordings. 
During his time at CalArts so far, Alberto has produced six shows, played clarinet and other instruments in numerous ensembles, written music for seven films, worked as a sound designer for two films, handled music preparation/orchestration for various established composers around LA, run countless recording sessions for animators, directors, solo musicians, large ensembles, and a large variety of people from other backgrounds, and written over ten performed works for the concert stage. Entering his fourth year of higher education, Alberto’s passion for film music and recording has been fully realized into a reality that he intends to pursue throughout the rest of his life.

Jamie Leidwinger:
Jamie Leidwinger is a Baltimore-based composer. She received her MM in Composition at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins, a BA in Music from Dickinson College, and her teachers include Pulitzer Prize-winner Du Yun, Amy Beth Kirsten, Douglas Buchanan, and David Smooke. Jamie previously interned with the Ojai Music Festival, Q2 Music (NYC, now NewSounds), the Artistic Director of Symphony Space (NYC), and recently produced Q2 Music’s Instagram takeover series, “A Day in the Life,” as a freelance contributor; she is currently an Associate Artist Fellow with Amy Beth Kirsten’s music-theatre ensemble HOWL. Current projects include a podcast featuring interviews with Peter Sellars, Alex Ross, and more (release: Summer 2018), a collaboration with Baltimore-based street choir Voices Rise, co-founding a women’s vocal chamber octet, and co-founding SENSE, a Baltimore-based interdisciplinary, immersive, and inclusive arts series.

Emily Persinko:
Emily Persinko has interned at the Ojai Music Festival for the past two years, working closely with the marketing department and the box office. Emily graduated from San Diego State University (SDSU) this spring where she studied music entrepreneurship and business and is currently pursuing a career in arts administration. Emily is an event stage manager for La Jolla Music Society, a production assistant at San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory, and Assistant Operations Coordinator at Art of Élan. Emily has also recently interned at the San Diego Symphony in the development department and The Broad Stage in Santa Monica as an artistic intern. Emily has held positions as the principle flutist of the SDSU Wind Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. She also teaches at a private flute studio in San Diego and recently performed her senior flute recital.



Molly Tucker:
Molly Tucker, from Thousand Oaks, California, is currently in her third year at Oberlin College and Conservatory where she is pursuing degrees in Violin Performance and Economics. As a violinist, she has participated in such festivals as Bowdoin International Music Festival, Madeline Island Chamber Music Camp, The Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, and the Montecito International Music Festival. Additionally, Molly has been a soloist with the Thousand Oaks Philharmonic and the California State University Northridge Youth Philharmonic. Her musical explorations have taken her to contemporary and Baroque music, as well as folk traditions. She has performed in an Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble performance of Hans Abrahamsen’s Schnee, as well as an Oberlin premiere of Celso-Garrido Lecca’s String Quartet No. 2, and has led and soloed with the Oberlin Baroque Orchestra. Molly has also fiddled since the age of seven and has attended Ashokan Music and Dance Camps and The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. As a lover of contra dance, she has played dances in both California and New Hampshire, and regularly plays for the monthly dances at Oberlin. Molly is a co-founder of Quartet Davis, a string quartet that plays original arrangements of folk and jazz, which was one of the recipients of Oberlin’s Flint Initiative Grant for a three-week Midwest and East Coast tour in January 2018. She is also a part of Caraway House, a fiddle and voice duo that performs tunes from Scandinavian and Old Time traditions. In January 2017, she traveled to Amman, Jordan with an Oberlin string quartet to play at schools and public venues, including a performance with the Jordan Orchestra sponsored by the United States Embassy. She has studied with Marilyn McDonald, Linda Rose, and Kim Kilgore, and has had the opportunity to work with renowned musicians such as Kikuei Ikeda, the Punch Brothers, Fabian Almazan, The Calder Quartet, Billy Childs, and Christian Howes. Outside of her musical life, she is active in the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association, organizes the Oberlin Quaker Student Group, and works for Oberlin Conservatory Admissions.

Sarah Voshall:
Sarah Voshall is a pianist, collaborator, and teacher based in Los Angeles county. She is currently a third year piano performance major at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA. In high school, she studied improvisation with Daniel Hopkins, who remains a constant source of inspiration. At CalArts, she is privileged to study piano with Ming Tsu, and greatly appreciates the mentorship of Vicki Ray. She has also studied harpsichord with Tisha Mabee. Sarah’s current interests lie in methodically exploring the keyboard works of Bach alongside the surprisingly parallel piano pieces of Bartok. Recently, Sarah has found an interest in learning and performing chamber works with a trio of fellow CalArtians. As a means of cultivating a culture of music (and paying the bills), Sarah has been giving private piano lessons to students of all ages for the past decade. Sarah also teaches piano classes at West Creek Academy to second and third graders, a group of musicians whose youthful enthusiasm continues to delight and exasperate her in equal parts. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her little sister who educates her in the memes of the day and forces her to listen to musical theatre soundtracks.

Madeleine Wilmsen:
Madeleine Wilmsen is a flute student at the University of Kansas and received her Bachelor of Arts in Music with a minor in Psychology in May of 2018. While attending undergrad, Madeleine participated in numerous ensembles and chamber groups. Between the years 2015 and 2017, Madeleine was a member of a flute and percussion duo that premiered new works by in-residence composers. She performed as principal player of the KU Symphony Orchestra during the Spring of 2017 and is currently the principal flutist of the KU Wind Ensemble. This spring, KUWE will perform a Reach Out Kansas commissioned piece at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and will be recording a new album. For the last three years, Madeleine has served as President and founding member of the KU Flute Club. She was instrumental in the creation of the club and worked to establish many yearly events, including the annual KU Flute Day in the spring. During the fall of 2017, Madeleine worked as a Development intern at the Kansas City Symphony where she learned the ins and outs of a major non-profit and frequently communicated with symphony donors. She plans on earning a MM in flute performance and furthering her career in music (whether it be performing, teaching, or arts management).

Dominique Wright:
Dominique Wright just finished her sophomore year at Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA where she is an Economics Major and Flute Performance Minor. She is interested in continuing her work in social media marketing and is eager to work for larger companies and to gain further experience in management.
Dominique has also played the flute for ten years. When she was just beginning her musical studies, she lost her flute at school. When a mother at her school heard about the lost instrument, she went home to find her old flute and brought it back to school so that Dominique could continue playing. Since experiencing that gesture of kindness, Dominique has not wanted to stop playing music. This June will be her second time working with the Ojai Music Festival and she cannot wait to take a part in the festival again.

BRAVO Leadership Change: Welcome Sandra Shapiro and Merrill Williams

sandra-shapiro-and-merrill-williamsThe Ojai Music Festival is pleased to announce Sandra Shapiro and Merrill Williams as new co-chairs of the BRAVO Education Committee. Both Sandra and Merrill are excited to help the program in bringing music programs to school children throughout the Ojai Valley, including Music Van, the Imagine concert, Chumash Music and Culture, Education Through Music (ETM), and the Upbeat Percussion Workshops at Continuing Care Centers.

Sandra Shapiro has lived in Ojai for ten years. As a nurse, she has experience working with new mothers in the post-partum field, as well as in school health. She is currently on the Board of the Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center, a family-directed outreach program to help families with support, education, and emotional care and served as a past president. Sandra has been an active member of the Ojai Festivals Women’s Committee for five years.

Sandra says about the BRAVO program, “This is something that draws people to be a part of supporting the Festival. It is our greater hope, desire, and awareness that children thrive when exposed to and included in musical participation. They have an appreciation of the expressive culture. Music also builds confidence, brain skills in mathematics and logic and the chance for self-expression. This translates into greater confidence and ultimately better citizens. Music and the arts are part of the powerful, ineffable sphere of the human experience.”

Merrill Williams has lived in Ojai for 44 years. Part of her extensive background in marketing and publicity was working for the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa for 15 years as Public Relations Director. There she worked closely with the national and international press. A long-time Festival subscriber, Merrill recently served as past president of the Ojai Festivals Women’s Committee and joined the Festival’s Board of Director in September. Merrill comes from a musical family; her mother was an arranger who specialized in women’s choral music. She would also lead choirs on tours to local schools and prisons. Merrill is firmly aware of the importance of music to our youth, and to society.

For more information on the Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO education in the schools and community, click here. If you are interested in the BRAVO committee, a voluntary group that meets once a month, contact Laura Walter at 805 646 2094.

Want to help the program? Join us at the Ojai Holiday Home Tour & Marketplace, November 12 and 13, a major fundraiser for the BRAVO education programs!

The Ojai Music Festival Makes Musicians of All Children

Third graders at Topa Topa as BRAVO music teacher Laura Walter helps them identify a song by reading notes.

The Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO program is laying the foundation for all of Ojai’s public school children to become musicians, starting at a very early age.  In first and second grades, the students experience songs, games, rhythmic activities and simple sound/symbol matching.  This year, BRAVO has expanded its reach to third graders, who are beginning to read musical notes.  Weekly lessons are taught by Laura Walter using the principles of ETM (Education Through Music).

Next year, when these students are in fourth grade, they will be given the opportunity to sample a variety of instruments, provided by BRAVO. These early musical opportunities are paying dividends, as students are inspired to play instruments or sing in chorus at the intermediate, junior and senior high school level. Students who do not move into further music training have developed an appreciation of music which will serve them well throughout their lives.

According to Kathy Broesamle, ETM volunteer and grandparent of three public school music students, “it’s no wonder that Nordhoff High School has such a strong music program that encompasses classical, jazz, choral and theatrical elements. We are blessed with highly talented and devoted teachers, as well as students who, thanks to BRAVO have a solid music background.”

BRAVO, made possible by the Ojai Music Festival, is funded by community donations and the proceeds from the Holiday Home Look-in and Holiday Marketplace, which will be on November 12-13, 2016.


Creating And Connecting With Music

Imagine a world where wonder happens every day. March is “Music in the Schools Month” and the Ojai Music Festival is bringing that to life. The Festival’s BRAVO Education and Community Program brings the joy of music into classrooms throughout the Ojai Valley and two Ventura area schools with the Imagine Concert, the Music Van, Flutes Across the World, Artists-in-Residence programs, and weekly Education Through Music workshops in every Ojai Unified Elementary school. The children are filled with wonder!

Bravo16115-300x200When we create music, the brain uses many networks to process phrases, melody, rhythm, and timbre, or tone color. The brain’s auditory areas light up, but so do areas responsible for motor skills, emotions, and creativity. Music employs many sensory systems at once. We are seeing, we are hearing, we are saying, we are doing. Because of this, memory and intelligence improve.

Luke Martin, 2016 Steven Rothenberg Internship Fellow

We are thrilled to announce Luke Martin as the 2016 Steven Rothenberg Internship Fellow. Luke is a composer pursuing his M.F.A. at CalArts and was first an intern at the 2015 Festival. The Rothenberg Fellow and Festival Internship Program are made possible by the generous support of Fred and Ila Rothenberg, in memory of their son Steven Rothenberg.

Luke Martin (b. 1992) is an experimental composer, musician, and poet currently living in Valencia, CA. His work focuses on the concepts of liminality, neutrality, and lukefragility and is primarily interested in exploring limits of perception. More specifically, he is interested in the use of silence, listening, text, and sound as equally considered elements in the compositional practice; for instance, the composer’s task is not only to consider the parameters of determined sound making (both text and instrumental), but also the parameters of how we listen, and how we may interact with and frame silence. The composer, then, seeks to create situations of possible events which the audience, performer(s), and composer all experience concurrently. Further, Luke considers the social and political disposition of a performance a very connected aspect of his work: how can one critically think about the hierarchical roles and power relations at work in a given performance, and then potentially subvert or support them. Recently inspired by David Dunn’s notations for listening and Lasse Thoresen’s spectromorphological analysis of electronic music and sound, Luke is in the beginning stages of developing a notation for silence (i.e., incidental sounds, contingency).

Among his many influences, Luke is particularly inspired by the work of Samuel Beckett, John Cage, Morton Feldman, Peter Ablinger, Luigi Nono, the Wandelweiser Collective, and Gertrude Stein. He is currently in his final year of the M.F.A. music composition program at California Institute of the Arts, studying with Michael Pisaro. Originally from Massachusetts, Luke received his B.A. in English and Music from Colby College in Maine, graduating magna cum laude, phi beta kappa, and with honors in music composition/theory. He has received awards ranging from a Kennedy Center Award for Music Composition to the Mollie Seltzer Yett Prize for Music Academics. Aside from composing, Luke performs in a noise/no-input feedback duo ‘sinecure,’ plays tennis, guitar in both jazz and experimental music settings, enjoys canoeing with family and friends in Maine, and always appreciates a good game of cribbage.

Learn more about the Festival Internship Program >>

Welcome Laura Walter – New Education Coordinator

The Festival warmly welcomes Laura Walter as our new Education Coordinator. Laura is taking over duties from Andy Radford, who has headed BRAVO for the past 12 years. Andy will remain as the Festival’s Intern Coordinator and Laura take charge of planning, organizing, and scheduling BRAVO’s activities in local classrooms and the Ojai community.

walterLaura writes, “What an honor to be involved with the Ojai Music Festival as the new Education Coordinator! Andy Radford has done a wonderful job of enriching the lives of the community, and I look forward to continuing his good work. Through the avenues of singing, percussion, flutes, and learning about the music of the Chumash culture, the BRAVO program acts as an important voice, bringing many enriching experiences of music to the people of the Ojai Valley and Ventura County. I’m so excited to be able to contribute! Music helps us feel a larger whole, a part of something bigger than ourselves. When beauty is created through feeling and thinking, an elevation occurs, a greater awareness and appreciation. Our world is better for it.”

BRAVO! Spotlight: Jacob Scesney

Each February brings a BRAVO! tradition – the annual Imagine Concert. Last week, over 1,000 local 4th to 6th grade students from eight schools attended a live performance by their older peers and professional area artists, including performances by the Matilija Jr. High strings program and a special preview of Nordhoff High School’s upcoming musical, West Side Story. Also performing were Artist-In-Residence Rebecca Comerford, local musician Jimmy Calire and special guest (and BRAVO! alum), Jacob Scesney.

Multi-instrumentalist Jacob grew up in Ojai playing the saxophone and participating in school music programs and BRAVO! workshops from elementary school, through his time at Matilija and at Nordhoff (where he won several festival awards for outstanding soloist), before transferring to the Idyllwild Arts Academy to complete his high school education. In recent years, Jacob’s burgeoning career has taken him far beyond the Ojai Valley and included tours with Casey Abrams, performances with Tim Ries, Bernie Dresel, Christian Scott, Robben Ford, and Andrew Gouche (among others), the world premiere of Rufus Reid’s Mass Transit at Disney Hall’s Redcat, and even appearances on the hit TV show Glee. He currently studies at California State University Northridge, where he was named the youngest lead alto in the history of the university’s Jazz A Band.

Watch Jacob and Jimmy perform at the Imagine concert last week:

Jacob has fond memories of his time in Ojai and recently wrote on the important role  BRAVO! played in his musical training. He writes, “The BRAVO! Program … helped forge an attitude of consistency that has helped carry me through many circumstances. These programs are instrumental to the mindset needed to be a present active professional, in whatever field.”

We’re thrilled to have had Jacob back in Ojai to share his talents with another generation of Ojai’s students. It’s not that long ago that he sat where they were, and we can’t wait to see where the next years take him.

Learn more about the Festival’s BRAVO! music education and community programs >> 

Help the Festival continue bringing music to public school children. Donate here >>

An Afternoon with BRAVO’s Upbeat Percussion Workshops

In late October, BRAVO! launched its new program, Upbeat, at Ojai’s Community Hospital’s continuing care center. Over a dozen residents came out to participate in group music making and song performances, led by percussion specialist, music therapist and BRAVO! Artist-in-Residence, Judy Piazza.

Upbeat was conceived after a pilot workshop at the hospital, where BRAVO! volunteers brought a handful of instruments from the instrument petting zoo and led residents through a brief interactive workshop. The workshop was an instant success. Kristina Moffett, Activity Director at the Ojai Hospital Continuing Care Center wrote to BRAVO! Coordinator Andy Radford:

I am very excited to be a part of this opportunity to establish a music program for the senior care centers in Ojai. I have witnessed the benefits of what this type of program can provide for our seniors – the fun and joy that playing music brought to our residents was truly amazing. From residents who are alert, to those who are lower functioning; from residents who are physically disabled, to non-English speaking residents, everyone was able to take part. The stimulation of sound, vibrations, and movement affected every person that was there. This would truly be a benefit to our community to expand on.

When planning the workshops, it quickly became apparent that BRAVO!‘s existing instruments – trombones, trumpets, violins, chimes, etc – were not well-suited to those with limited movement. Instruments for UPBEAT were specially chosen to enable those with a range of movement abilities to participate. These include shakers and bells and struck sound instruments (drums, boom whackers). Instrument purchases for UPBEAT were made possible by the generous support of the Ojai Festivals Womens Committee, the Ojai Rotary Club and the City of Ojai Arts Commission.

Upbeat workshops are currently being scheduled at the hospital, as well as additional senior resident facilities throughout the valley. We’ll be posting photos and updates throughout the winter and spring. Special thanks to Kristina and all the facility administrators in the valley for helping to make Upbeat a success.

Learn more about the BRAVO! music education program >>

All photos by Fred Rothenberg


Meet Laura Walter, ETM Artist In Residence

One of BRAVO!‘s larger programs is its Education Through Music (ETM) residencies. ETM’s weekly workshops integrate vocal music lessons with critical thinking games to teach the fundamentals of pitch and rhythm and build interpersonal skills. In addition to its musical benefits, ETM builds the acquisition of language and movement to enhance the imagination and stabilization of children. Originally offered to only K-1 students, BRAVO! currently provides ETM to K-2  classrooms throughout the Ojai Valley.

Local musipreferredcian and BRAVO! artist in residence Laura Walter has taught ETM for several years, working with students and adults of all ages, utilizing the experience of interactive play to develop motivation and promote community building and conflict resolution skills. Recently, she’s used her work to conduct studies in topics that range from symbolic functioning in math and language systems, to the needs of typical and non-typical learners, entitlement, addiction, effects of domestic violence and abuse, and peer orientation.

As an ETM educator, Laura works with teachers and children to promote, intelligence, attention, literacy, emotional stability and beauty through the aesthetic experience. Through the use of songs and musical games, students learn to think critically, cooperate with one another, communicate their emotions, and strengthen their interpersonal relationships. One ETM activity has students match songs they know with their clapped rhythm:

Laura recently returned from four weeks in Israel where she studied the effects of trauma on childhood, society, and the role of art and beauty in healing conflict. The power of ETM is clear – as Laura writes, “Children in ETM classes create beauty, which leads to empathy and hope, embracing the important contribution of arts education. Teachers often say, ‘ETM has taught these children to be kind and respectful by creating beautiful music with each other.” ETM’s benefits may not always be measured quantitatively, but its effect on students – and all who are involved – remains incredibly profound. BRAVO! and the Festival have been grateful for Laura’s expertise throughout the years and her steadfast advocacy of ETM throughout the country.

About Laura Walter:
Laura Walter received a Master of Music degree in Flute Performance from the University of Kentucky. She studied flute with various members of the Cincinnati Symphony, New York Philharmonic and the London Symphony.  She serves on the faculty of Westmont College and also performs with the Santa Barbara Symphony, Opera Santa Barbara, as well as local choral societies. Laura has performed with several orchestras across the country, is active as a clinician and competition adjudicator, and has established and conducted flute choirs at colleges and festivals across the country.

Alry Publications has published several of her flute choir arrangements and an etude book based on orchestral excerpts.  She has performed with many musicians including Henry Mancini, Roger Sessions, Peter Schickele, Doc Severinsen, Steve Allen and Yanni. She has recorded on 12 different CD’s ranging from classical to Gospel music.

Laura is also an accomplished watercolorist and her paintings have won numerous awards at shows and galleries in Ventura and Santa Barbara. How color interacts on paper is similar to how the sounds of the orchestra instruments combine to create beauty. Some of the most interesting aspects in the process of creating visual art are similar to the process of creating music: responding to what’s happening in the moment, listening very carefully, and finding both the rhythm and the flow in work and play.

Read more about ETM and the Richards Institute >>
See more information on BRAVO! and its programs >>

Back To School at the Festival

The month of September means many things here at the Festival – planning for the next year is starting to get underway, staff have returned from their vacations, summer interns are back to school, and, of course, the BRAVO! music education program is beginning to get underway.

Each year, BRAVO! provides free, integrated music instruction to Ojai’s public school students and those in two nearby Ventura County schools. Students are led in a series of workshops by BRAVO!’s artists-in-residence (local professional musicians). These range from lessons in world music, to k-1 music eduction, to opera. To see a complete list of BRAVO!’s offerings, click here. Education Through Music (ETM) workshops will start shortly in K-1 classrooms throughout the district…stay tuned for photos and updates!

We’re excited to expand BRAVO!’s community percussion workshops this year to include Ojai’s older citizens. We’re bringing percussion instruments and special group activities to Ojai’s assisted living and continuing care facilities so that Ojai residents of all ages can benefit from participating in music making. We would like to recognize the City of Ojai Arts Commission and the Ojai Rotary Club for their generous support of the community percussion workshops.

If you’re here in Ojai, you’ll know that Ojai Day is just around the corner. Come by our Instrument Petting Zoo on October 19th and try out a new instrument  – or reconnect with an old one!

A Second Summer as an OMF Intern

After having a great time interning for the 2012 Ojai Music Festival, I of course applied again to be a marketing intern for the 67th Ojai Music Festival with Mark Morris as the Music Director.  I expected to do more or less of the same work as I did last year, since I was interning with the same department, under the same Marketing Director Gina Gutierrez. While 2012 was a great experience, I enjoyed my 2013 experience even more because of the even more diverse tasks I got to take on, as well as seeing old friends from the 2012 Festival.

One of the highlights of my Festival experience was working with Doug McLennan from and Suzi Steffen, our Social Media Coordinator to work on the live stream concerts. OMF now provides live streams of every Libbey Bowl concert, with interviews during intermissions, so I helped Doug manage the live streams before, during and after concerts. It was great to be able to sit through every concert and watch insightful interviews between Doug and special guests.  It’s also quite amazing to watch Suzi at work, live-tweeting every event she possibly can during the Festival. If you haven’t checked out our Twitter page, you definitely should.

Get Fit!Mark Morris was the Music Director this year, bringing a lot of energy and dance to the Festival. One very fun community event that happened this year because of him was “Get Fit! With MMDG,” a one-hour morning fitness class taught by two energetic,fun MMDG dancers. The marketing team was put in charge of producing this event, which essentially meant that we had to be there and make sure everything ran smoothly.  It was very fun to see an extremely successful event take place (around 60 people came each morning!).

Aside from doing my job every day, it was fun and interesting to watch all of the other interns perform their duties.  The production interns were constantly running around, driving artists, making name tags, and seemed to leave the Festival with a slightly frenetic but content disposition.  The box office interns dealt with a very wide variety of people, and never failed to deliver some sort of crazy story about a patron at the end of the day. The special events intern was constantly moving to every special event the Festival had, making sure things were running smoothly and patrons were happy. Everybody had their own specific job, but worked together on some projects to ensure the success of the Festival.

It was very fun to come back to familiar faces and meet new ones this year. We have intern dinners and daily intern meetings to see where everyone is at, which adds to the sense of community. It was a wonderful three weeks of friendly faces, beautiful Ojai, and, of course, great music. Ojai Music Festival throws its interns into the storm of a music festival, while giving you all the support you need. It’s a great experience, and I hope to come back next year.

Want to learn more about the internship program? Check out our internship page, which includes links to the application and brochure.



BRAVO! – An Ever-Growing Program for Music in the Schools

Judy Vander, Ojai Music Festival Education Committee Member writes about the diverse programs offered as part of BRAVO! – including its new residency ‘Ojai Creates Opera’.

The breadth and variety of the Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO! music education program has garnered wide acclaim from educators, parents and students for its continued resolve to offer  free programs in the Ojai Valley public school system.

One of the Festival’s newest programs for the very youngest is Education Through Music (ETM), which serves students, kindergarten through first grade, in the Ojai Unified School District. This innovative way of teaching and learning music reaches the child through play, song, language, and movement. ETM has been so successful that there are now ongoing tutorial sessions to give ETM training to classroom teachers, funded by the Ojai Rotary Club.

A Career Found: Margaret Barrett, From Intern to Asst. Producer


I spent a lot of my childhood living in Ojai and vaguely remember folks at my schools, Mira Monte and Matilija, mentioning the Ojai Music Festival. Murmurs of experimental music during Ojai summers came through my piano teacher, my school choir community, and through some of my parents’ more artistic friends. However, I remained fairly oblivious. The most actual music I heard from the Festival was from distant rehearsals resounding in the park as I stepped into Ojai Ice Cream on a warm June day.  Who knows, maybe Pierre Boulez opened the door for me at the time, and I missed it.

Confessions of a Teenage ‘Metro Gnome’

György Ligeti’s fluxus score to ‘Poème Symphonique’ spends little time discussing the performance of the work itself. Instead, he addresses a more pressing matter: acquiring 100 metronomes. Music stores, newspaper advertisements, and Maecenas are some of the sources that Ligeti encourages to bribe with program note recognition etc. If a rich patron were to simply buy Ligeti 100 metronomes, the piece would be “dedicated to him alone.”

When Artistic Director Tom Morris pitched the project to me in 2007, he lowered the cone of silence. “We’ve located the metronomes, but now I need you to assemble a team to set them off at the opening night concert.” Six cardboard boxes of time-keeping devices had just arrived from a performance of ‘Poème Symphonique’ in Austin, Texas. We were armed and ready.

Ten tables with ten metronomes each ringed the bowl at the opening night concert. Pianists Amy Williams and Helena Bugallo gave the signal to my team and the clicking commenced. While the sound of one metronome is regular and percussive, multiplied one hundred times, the result is quite different—imagine rain on a tin roof. But one by one, the upward pendulums froze until the heroic last stand of the final metronome. Beats away from death, the wooden pyramid hypnotized the audience. A long pause was observed when the last click sounded.

View Ligeti’s score here.

Albert Behar is a composer and past intern at the Ojai Music Festival. He is currently running around Paris with an accordion in search of jazz manouche. To find out more about his French alter-ego visit:

Why I Support the BRAVO! Music Education Program Pt. 2

Judy Vander returns as our guest blogger for the second installment of her post on what it is that makes BRAVO! such a special program. Last time, Judy explained the BRAVO’s several unique workshops; this week she introduces a few of the incredible artists make the program so successful.

BRAVO!’s October Metales Concert

Another reason why I’m proud to support the BRAVO! Program is its collection of extraordinary artists who present their own, unique workshops for the students.

Andy Radford, bassoonist, is BRAVO!’s overall Coordinator/Director. He presents his amazing Adopt-a-Musician workshop,  which includes focused listening: learning to recognize the instruments of the orchestra as well as recognize musical patterns.  From his rich background of performing for major movie studios, Andy shows how music underscores and enhances the emotional/expressive aspects of movies.

Andy is joined by three other outstanding musicians—Julie Tumamait, Judy Piazza, and John Zeretzke—who teach different strands of world music. Julie Tumamait, a member of the Chumash tribe, teaches both Chumash songs and Chumash culture to the students. This is an unusual and authentic experience for the students, an opportunity for cross cultural contact and learning that not even many adult Americans have ever had.  Judy Piazza has studied drum music around the world and the songs that go with the drum patterns. She enriches the musical brew for the students in her own wonderful way—teaching songs and rhythmic patterns, along with the history and geography from whatever part of the world the songs and rhythms originate.

John Zeretzke is a master performer of instruments from around the world, and has composed scores for dance and theater. He gives Ojai students demonstrations on flutes from around the world and lectures on the development of instruments.  Most recently, he created the “Flutes Across the World” program for elementary students. In it, he makes flutes from pipes and given each student two flutes to complete by sanding and decorating. One flute is for the Ojai student to keep and  John takes the second flute, which includes a picture of the Ojai student who decorated it, and personally gives it to a student of a third world country. John’s program teaches music, art, and so much more: he teaches the connection between all people, generosity, and altruism.  He has received a United Nations award for this work.

Is there another music education program of this unique quality in California?  In the United States?  Why am I proud to support the BRAVO! programs?  Let me count the ways!

To learn more about BRAVO! click here.

Why I Support the BRAVO! Music Education Program

Judy Vander has been a  BRAVO! Music Education Program volunteer and friend of the Festival for several years. She is our guest blogger this week as she describes just what it is that makes BRAVO! special.

Judy with the BRAVO! Music Van

Why am I proud to support the extraordinary BRAVO! programs?  Let me count the ways…

Let me start with the Education Through Music workshops, an interactive music program for Kindergarten and first graders that teaches basic musical elements through games, songs, and movement. This relatively new program taps into the natural joy of children and infects the lucky person who gets to witness it. It is currently being taught at five elementary schools in Ojai. Moving on to third grade, Ojai students are all visited by the Music Van, which brings instruments from all the sections of the orchestra to the schools so that every student has a chance to play on every instrument. Logically, this program precedes the fourth grade when students have the chance to pick an instrument of their choice to learn and can join band programs. BRAVO! also funds a special string program where students are given a violin to use for as long as they are part of an instrumental program.

Every year BRAVO! organizes two concerts for the 5th-6th graders, to show them the wonderful musical opportunities that will open up to them when they move on up to Matilija Middle School and Nordhoff High School. The first of these is the IMAGINE concert. Student musical groups from these upper level schools perform and set an inspiring example for the elementary student audience. The second concert, Sing! focuses on vocal music. Prior to the concert, all 6th graders learn two songs. The concert itself features performances by the Matilija and Nordhoff choirs, as well as a set by professional singers. Near the end of the concert, the student audience is thrilled as the choir members come off the stage, mixing with them as they all sing together the two songs that they all had learned in preparation for the concert . . .

To learn more about BRAVO! click here. Look for Part Two of Judy’s blog coming soon!