2021 Festival Update

Dear Ojai Festival friends, We are absolutely delighted to let you know that this year’s Ojai Music Festival will take place in person on September 16 – 19, 2021. We shall once again gather together in the magical setting of Libbey Bowl and the Ojai Valley to create a festival community joined in the spirit of musical discovery and celebration. In addition, we are planning …

2021 Ticket and Donation Policy

The Festival ticket policy has been that all sales are final for tickets and special events with no refunds or exchanges. However, due to these still unprecedented circumstances, the following options are available for those who have 2021 series passes. 

Your 2021 series tickets will be transferred to the Festival in September
No further action is necessary.  You will receive a confirmation email, and seating will occur during early summer when we begin seating assignments. We are looking forward to being with you in person at Libbey Bowl!

Choose to contribute your tickets back as a charitable gift (and receive a tax deduction for the total ticket value). Your generous support is vital in helping the Ojai Music Festival to sustain the organization during challenging moments such as this one. We couldn’t do what we do without you. Your donation is fully tax deductible. Or, apply your ticket donations to our Ticket Fund for Essential Workers. To donate, please email Joy Kimura or Anna Wagner.

Place the value of your tickets on your account, to be used toward your 2022 Festival ticket purchases. If you would like to roll-forward your 2021 passes to 2022, please let us know by April 12, 2021. If we have not heard from you, we will send you a tax-deductible receipt for your donation. The 2022 Festival is slated for June 9 to 12 2022, with AMOC.

You may request a refund. Please email Bryan Lane at [email protected] by April 12, 2021. Please note that ticket refunds may take up to 60 days to fulfill.  

For personalized service, contact Bryan Lane at 805 646 2053 or Anna Wagner at 805 646 3178, Monday through Friday, 10am-5pm. We expect a high volume of calls, and we thank you for your patience. Our team continues to telework and will do our best to respond quickly to your calls.


Support Your Ojai Music Festival
To help with the serious financial impact on the Ojai Music Festival, donors can choose to contribute their series tickets back as a charitable gift (and receive a tax deduction for the total ticket value). Your tax-deductible donation today ensures that the Festival will continue to move forward into the future as we look forward to celebrating our 75th Festival in September 2021.  

Click here to make a donation>>

Music Van Arrives!

Music Van is one of our most favorite activities that encourages students to try out musical instruments. This year, Music Van will go virtual, thanks to our collaboration with the Santa Barbara Symphony.

Ojai school children will be introduced to the instrument family in a new digital way. To  supplement this virtual version,  our very own BRAVO Committee has put together short videos to show just how much fun it can be to play an instrument. Special thanks to several local students who helped demonstrate!

Special thanks to our community partners for supporting our BRAVO programs!
Ojai Women’s Fund
Alice C. Tyler Perpetual Trust
John and Beverly Stauffer Foundation
City of Ojai 
Montecito Bank and Trust


From Ojai with Love featuring Julie Smith Phillips

A musical gift from the Ojai Music Festival: harpist and 2021 Festival artist Julie Smith Phillips performs a movement from Tree Suite for solo harp by Hannah Lash. Enjoy!

Fall & Spring: Song & Play

We continue our learning even in the virtual world! Working with the Ojai Unified School District, the Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO education & community program offers online classes with Ms. Laura.

Special thanks to the Ojai Festival Women’s Committee for their ongoing support for BRAVO, and to the Ojai Women’s Fund for their generous donation during the FY2020-21 school year! 

Click the tabs below to watch our Song & Play lessons.

LESSON 9 | 08.27.20

Our first day back, and it’s so glorious to be together, even though it can only be virtually for now! We are going to set ourselves up to be the most successful we can be, through singing and playing, and starting to learn each other’s names. How important is a name? It is how we are known. It is an avenue for attachment. It leads us into community. 


This song is often the first experience children have playing on an instrument. We approach this folk song through a story. Why did people not make signs to advertise what they were selling? How did people sweeten their food 1,000 years ago? What was the importance of singing in the streets? We also add the hand signs for the music notes.


Movement causes our attention systems to click on. Adding movements helps lower distractibility. When we create a train somewhere and move to it, our brain kicks into participation. Participating physically in a basic way is a direct route to play. When we couple the movements with the words (notice the syllables in the fingers), we move the student into stabilization, and the emergence of intelligence.


LESSON 10 | 9.3.20


This week’s play involves the balance between repetition and variation.

The brain loves repetition. Up to a point. It looks for patterns. Then it delights when there is novelty, something different. Balancing these two helps to stabilize a child’s emotional state. The song stays the same. It is predictable. The fingers popping up are a surprise. Looking for a Hot Cross Buns pattern is always fun!

LESSON 11 | 10.01.20


Taking a look at proprioception, puzzling, and the playfulness of Mozart.

One thing that children need is tons of proprioceptive input. This is how they orient themselves to the world—jumping, skipping, stomping, spinning. They develop their spatial awareness, both of themselves and their environment. This song is a great way to play with rhyming words, and get the body up and moving.


Here’s a fun way to connect visual art and music. When we are together we sing about someone’s clothing. Sometimes the clue is very hard to spot, but an amazing thing happens; the children become focused on each other in a positive way, hoping they can find who is wearing, for instance—”unicorns”, or “something delicious”. This positive social regard for other is important for gathering in community and building the tools of empathy.


Have you ever wondered where Mozart got his sense of playfulness? Here is the first stage of learning his “Cuckoo Canon”. When we sing it in a round, using the hand signs, there is a wonderful symbiosis of challenge, skill and the delight in doing it. And we can hear the cuckoo bird. Genuine play has a characteristic of being autotelic—doing it for its own sake. It is so joyful to feel this!

LESSON 12 | 11.05.20

Using a secret song triggers the brain’s memory and recall. The brain looks for an auditory match. It searches previous experiences and pictures it has made, based on our play of this game. We represent the song by acting it out in the classroom. Here is an extension of that—new verses to explore rhyming and phrasing patterns. The prosody of our language is reflected in our songs, and this assists with the development of language and listening skills.


This folk song has a rich history, being used by lumberjacks who were using a saw together. They would sing the song to keep their sawing movements in sync. It is about an apprenticeship relationship, when there were master electricians and plumbers, etc. that would take on a young person to learn the trade. I think poor Jack liked to goof off, to which we can all relate! True to its nature, this song sung by a room of children and adults cause the group to sync together, matching awareness, skills, and action.


We are learning to use the sign language symbols for this song. Children share why the rain is good. Being interested in nature, and the cycles of rain, growth, and plants is good for all of us to remember. Later on in school, this is a beautiful song to sing in canon, and as a partner song that goes with other songs. But first, we explore its meaning.

LESSON 13 | 12.03.20

This week we explore the importance of the proprioceptive system, and listening for accents and syllables. The most distinguishing characteristic of a piece of music is its rhythm, so we play with that.


This old jig from the British Isles enacts the joy of a chance meeting with a friend. Going for a walk and seeing someone you know can be an experience of amazement for a child. Especially when they see others from school out in the community. This song works to preserve that delight.


Learning to hear the accented and unaccented parts of speech and music are key to comprehension. Children love exploring syllables, both in their own names, and those of their friends. Sometimes they love when we make it harder just to see if we can get the flow of the number of syllables, the correct accents, and all at the normal speed of speech. It’s a fun challenge.


We spend most of our time singing songs, acting out the words, and exploring the sounds auditorily. This is referred to as procedural learning. The declarative process of learning note names can be done very quickly and is an addendum to our weekly lessons focused on play.

LESSON 14 | 01.07.21

Exploring sounds and symbols leads to increased literacy. And we have a science experiment with song!

We are excited about science, and pairing science with music. Sound vibrations are fun to study from a science perspective also. Watching how different leaves blow in the wind is curiously relaxing. It’s fun to make predictions.


Children delight in challenges of object permanence, as well as searching for objects. This satisfies the brain’s natural tendency to look for patterns in nature (is that a saber-tooth tiger hiding in those bushes?). When we play this in class, one person drops the letter behind someone while we sing with our eyes closed. We love watching the face of the person who finds the letter, and gets to chase the other person. So joyful! Poems by Shel Silverstein.


Someday soon we will be singing this favorite in a round. At summer camp, we have groups of children acting out their own boats together, and see how they move across the floor. Then we have them come up with their own words to extend the drama. Imagination builds intelligence!


Once we have played a song many times, we can start to look at the rhythm. Rather than explaining right off the bat, we explore. How do these symbols function? These lines are just arbitrary signs that have developed into symbols in music for the speed of notes. Interpreting written symbols by having a sound for them is what reading is all about. Since the children know the song, they can search their memories for an auditory match. Doing is stronger than telling. By singing the solfège, we start to understand the relationships between notes.


LESSON 15 | 02.04.21

A symbol is a symbol only if it makes present again that for which it stands. We are playing with sound experiences. 

Sally Go Round
When objects can stand for other objects, we are engaging the imagination. Eventually, abstract symbols, such as letters, which make up words, can stand for objects. While playing with these ideas, the children are learning a lot of folk songs that accurately carry the prosody of the English language.


Note of the Day—F
In class the children take turns whispering their guess to me. The room gets very quiet, except that we all start laughing about how quiet we just got!  

Roly Poly Tracks
Rhyming helps our auditory system develop, and the auditory system is of primary importance for reading, either music, or language. In this way, studying and singing music helps the brain develop structures for greater academic success.

Penny solfege
Another symbol used in representing sound is solfege. This is the do, re, mi, fa, so, la, and ti of the scale. In our classes, we sing the solfege, explore the difference in sounds, and read the solfege after we have already experienced it. The song and sound need to be represented in our bodies and physically experienced, before seeing the symbols. This leads to a robust learning experience.

LESSON 16 | 03.04.21

Repetition and variation are the two spices of music mastery. We set up an environment where the students ask if we can do it again. This is internal motivation at its finest!

Fly Away
I had some birds outside my window, so I sang for them. The melody of this song goes up, and then it goes down. And our bird follows the melody by going up, and then coming back down to the nest. It’s so important to have a comfortable nest.

Here We Are Together

We not only talk about community; we sing about it. Our actions with our students and families show it. These pro-social skills help to build a safe environment of inclusion and acceptance. Our hands are singing the “do” and “so” of the song, too!

Clickety Clack
Children love the predictability of making different movements that correspond to distinct sounds. This helps us practice, by repeating the experience to achieve mastery. Changing the motions provides the variation that the brain needs to stay engaged. The brain is always looking for patterns, and novelty. 

LESSON 17 | 04.08.21

Play is one the greatest equalizers we have in society. When we play together, we are equal participants; no child or adult has any advantage over any other. People who have play experiences together are much less likely to lash out at their peer, but rather work to come to a resolution. Our games feature many opportunities for partnership and collaboration, as we get to practice listening to all ideas and negotiating solutions.

This song comes from the deep south of Brazil and means “our place of peace”. Sharing our peaceful place builds attachment to our community, because it is something very personal about us, and we want to be known. The beauty of this song when sung in a round, or with other partner songs, or with its descant, helps us to appreciate each other.

Ginger Snap
Eventually, we have a room full of people with wings extended, trying to fly around the room. We bow to our partner, modeling respect. When we “take them by the shoulders”, all the children quickly organize themselves into a line (all by themselves!) to fly together. We have our own flock then!

Sally Go Round, rhythm, solfa
When puzzling over a secret song, the brain is looking through its memory banks for an auditory match. Sometimes a part of the rhythmic sound sparks a word, or a movement that we have previously done. The cross lateral indexing of the modalities of learning is one thing that gets dendrites branching. Building the experience to singing only one of solfa syllables out loud engages the skill of picking out the figure from the auditory ground, a skill so necessary in reading and paying attention.


LESSON 18 | 05.06.21

Today we have some experiences of kindness, acceptance, and integrity through music.

Note of the Day—A
Music is such an abstract language, but isn’t all written language? Once we make sense of it, we are all set. Once we sing it, it becomes concrete. Children love to explore the relationships between notes: in how they sound, in what they look like, and with the hand signs. That is why we sing a lot before we read music, just as we speak before we read. Emerging intelligence needs to hear it first, then see it.


Mulberry Bush
The integration of learning modalities happens when our actions line up with our words. Here I suggest actions that the children will know about, but maybe haven’t had direct experience of, such as throwing a snowball (coastal California!), or petting an iguana. Setting down this template in the brain, of matching language with movement, lays the foundation for integrity. We are doing what we say.


Love Canon, 4 parts
One of the great joys of singing together is singing in canon. Once the children know the song automatically, without needing to use up a lot of attention and focus to enjoy it, they are ready for singing in a canon. The harmonies in this song are wonderfully pleasing. The children are so happy to create such a thing of beauty. Harmony is naturally produced through the melody. They can own it, because they produced it themselves.


Make New Friends in Different Languages
Singing together helps us understand who and what we are. We are in a season of hope (at least, we hope we are!), embracing our common humanity. People from around the world are looking forward to coming together to greet old friends and to meet new friends. We embrace people and extend the hand of welcome. We can’t wait to get to know you better. 


LESSON 19 | 06.03.21

Play is to intelligence as breath is to life. If we make our interactions with children joyful and filled with beauty, they will want to come back and do it again.

Row Row
Making up new verses for songs helps imagination to develop. The rhyming scheme assists auditory development, which is important for fluent reading skills. 
Penny Song
Brains are attracted to beauty and play. Guessing where the penny is boosts resiliency, as there is a 50/50 chance we will miss. Experiences with manageable disappointment help to build a robust self-image. Drawing a map of the song is our way to symbolize the sound with a visual cue. Everybody’s map will look different, and by reading others’ maps, we are building the practice of empathy.
Windy Weather Rhythm
We love learning sign language! We sing in many languages: the words, the rhythm, the solfege with our hands, and now ASL. In class, the children take turns being leaves blowing around in the wind.
Tallis Canon
Thomas Tallis worked at the court of King Henry VIII. He wrote in a beautiful, lyrical vocal style. We sometimes take this melody and superimpose new words to tell a story, in the form of our own “operas.”






What’s on your Bookshelf Recommendations

In our current time of endless Zoom meetings or even when watching the news, we have taken notice and peeked curiously at other people’s backdrops. Inevitably, a bookshelf seems to be a frequent ‘prop’  — always lined with what looks like interesting books…and so we all wonder, what’s on their bookshelf?  What is there that might interest me, inspire or entertain me during these times? What might I learn about the person on screen that I didn’t know? For this, we turned to our Festival family – Barbara Hannigan, George Lewis, Thomas W. Morris, and Miranda Cuckson – to share with us their own inspirations. What we come out with to share with you is a multitude of fascinating reading and music resources. Enjoy!


Nuria Schoenberg-Nono – Arnold Schoenberg: Playing Cards
Arnold Schoenberg – Theory of Harmony
Carl Schorske – Fin-de-Siecle Vienna: Politics and Culture

Alban Berg – Lulu
George Gershwin – Girl Crazy Suite


Naomi André – Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement
W.E.B. Du Bois – The Comet
Luc Boltanski & Eve Chiapello – The New Spirit of Capitalism
Uwe Johnson – Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl
Kim Stanley Robinson – The Ministry for the Future

Wagner – Lohengrin
Wagner – Parsifal
Composers he is following: Andile Khumalo, Hannah Kendall, Courtney Bryan, Leila Adu-Gilmore, Jessie Cox, Jason Yarde, Daniel Kidane, Tania León, Alvin Singleton

Thomas W. MORRIS
Books, etc:

Joshua Wolf Shenk – Powers of Two: How Relationships Drive Creativity
Heidi Waleson – Mad Scenes and Exit Arias: The Death of the New York City Opera and the Future of Opera in America
Stave Jigsaw Puzzles, Vermont 

J.S. Bach – Cantatas
Fritz Reiner – Chicago Symphony Play Works by Ravel and Debussy. RCA Red Seal, 1986, CD
Fritz Reiner & Chicago Symphony Orchestra – The Complete RCA Album Collection, CD


Dominique Fourcade – Henri Matisse Ecrits et propos sur l’art
Charles Mackay – Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
Joseph Szigeti – Szigeti on the Violin
Tobias Wolff – This Boys Life: A Memoir

Alban Berg – Lulu
Blue Heron (Renaissance Choir)
Christelle Bofale (Singer/songwriter)
Jon Hassell (Experimental trumpeter/composer)
Paco de Lucia (Flamenco guitarist)
Johannes Ockeghem (Renaissance composer)

André Aciman – Out of Egypt: A Memoir
Eric Ambler – A Coffin for Dimitrios
Ishmael Beah – Radiance of Tomorrow
Tove Jansson – Travelling Light
Penelope Lively – Moon Tiger
Tayeb Salih – Season of Migration to the North
Zadie Smith – Swing Time
Lizabeth Strout – My Name is Lucy Barton
Miral Tahawi – Brooklyn Heights: An Egyptian Novel 

John Adams – The Wound Dresser
Smithsonian Anthology of Blues
Blind Willie Johnson – Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground
Vikingur Ólafsson playing Bach – Concerto in D minor, BWV 974 – 2. Adagio 
Read  Ara’s “Music for our Time” blog 

Download the complete list!

Ojai Music Festival Photo Gallery

John Luther Adams' Strange and Sacred Noise

Image 1 of 15

Entering in its 75th anniversary season, the Ojai Music Festival connects world-renowned artists and audiences in performances and conversations that push limits, risk failures, and spark surprise.  The Festival nurtures musicians, composers, and artists who shape the music of our time. Ojai’s spirit of innovation and informality draws audiences who are specifically eager for experiences beyond the norm of standard classical musical performances.

Photo 1: John Luther Adams’ Strange and Sacred Noise, Besant Hill School 
Photo 2: John Luther Adams’ Songbirdsongs, Meditation Mount
Photo 3: John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit, Libbey Park 
Photo 4: John Luther Adams’ Sila, Libbey Park 
Photo 5: Music of Lou Harrison, Libbey Park 
Photo 6: Mahler Chamber Orchestra members performing a wide-range of music, Libbey Park 
Photo 8: Children’s concert with Patricia Kopatchinskaja
Photo 9 and 10: Luigi Nono’s La lontananza nostalgica utopica futura, Libbey Park
Photo 11: Caroline Shaw’s Will there be any stars in my crown, Zalk Theatre 
Photo 12: Kaija Saariaho’s La Passion de Simone 
Photo 13: Josephine Baker: A Portrait (World Premiere) 
Photo 14: Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress 
Photo 15: Ojai Talks with members of LUDWIG
Photo 16: Libbey Bowl audience 



Music For Our Time

A Message from Ara Guzelimian, Artistic & Executive Director 

I write this on a bright November day, the air fresh with the crispness of the season. It has been a time of extraordinary events, marked a few days ago by an election of extreme division. We continue to be in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, which has brought much loss, separation, and isolation. All of that is compounded by the racial and economic fissures made apparent by events of the past year.
How do we measure this time in our innermost thoughts? Many years ago, I first met Peter Sellars at a conference in San Diego where he was giving a talk. His remarks have stuck with me, growing in importance with the passage of time. Peter said that our response to the arts is one of the few truly private experiences we have at a time of very little privacy. We encounter a book, a play, a piece of music, a work of art, a dance; we may express a public opinion and may even try to second-guess what a “correct” and “sophisticated” opinion might be. But when all is said and done, when the lights are out and our head hits the pillow, we are left alone with our experience of the art. We love it or we don’t, it speaks to us or it doesn’t, we understand it or we are left confused. But, in the end, we feel what we feel and think what we think.

Like so many of us, I have turned to music of every variety imaginable to keep me company in this roller-coaster time. I’ve found myself returning to a Smithsonian anthology of the blues that I’ve had for years but had overlooked more recently. There is such richness in this tradition and, as B.B. King observed, “blues is a tonic for what ails you. I could play the blues and not be blue anymore.” One of the most moving discoveries among these old recordings is this one, sung and played by Blind Willie Johnson (inset photo), that summons up a well of human expression without a single word being uttered. Here is a recording made nearly 100 years ago that reaches out across time and speaks to us with amazing currency. This is the raw power of music in its ability to express deep emotion.

My other constant has been the music of Bach, especially in the hands of great pianists. Bach’s music is informed by his unshakable faith, an abiding humanity, as well as a sense of order and design. In working with John Adams to plan the 2021 Ojai Festival, I have been listening intently to the recent recordings by one of our artists, the Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson, a pianist as at home in Bach as he is in the music of Philip Glass. His recent Bach recording is one of exceptional beauty, and I have returned to it often to provide a grounding in this disrupted time. As Víkingur wrote, “everything is there in Johann Sebastian’s music: architectural perfection and profound emotion.” Here is the Adagio from Bach’s Concerto in D Minor, BWV 974:

I happily anticipate Víkingur’s participation next year and am so grateful to John Adams for suggesting him as one of the first guest artists to invite. John himself has had an uncanny ability to give voice to American experience throughout his career – he is a musical chronicler of our times. In recent days, I found myself thinking about The Wound Dresser, a 1989 setting of Walt Whitman’s poem of the same name. In it, Whitman documents his experiences tending to the Civil War wounded in makeshift field hospitals. 
In listening recently to The Wound Dresser, I have been so struck by the resonances with our own moment in time – the deep divisions in the country on one hand and the boundless generosity of so many health workers and caregivers in this pandemic on the other. Whitman writes “Thus in silence in dreams’ projections, / Returning, resuming, I thread my way through the hospitals, / The hurt and the wounded I pacify with soothing hand.”

John wrote about the work, “It is a statement about human compassion that is acted out on a daily basis, quietly and unobtrusively and unselfishly and unfailingly.” Another [Whitman] poem in the same volume states its theme in other words: ‘Those who love each other shall become invincible . . . ‘”
And so, we are reminded that artists are our truth-tellers and our chroniclers, their work our necessary companions through thick and thin. I am also reminded that we turn to the arts particularly in trying times. As we approach the 75th Festival in June, it is meaningful to recall that the Festival was founded in 1947, when the world was just barely emerging from World War II. The Festival’s very existence comes from an act of hope and optimism at a time of rebuilding in the face of adversity. In that spirit, we hold the promise of the next Ojai Festival as a similar act of faith. 

When we gather together to listen to music, we assert our humanity, our belief in the arts, and in community. Thanks to each of you for creating the warm and welcoming spirit of community that defines the Festival. I am so gratified to be working with the musicians who will bring to life the 75th Festival. And I relish the promise of listening to their music in your company.


About The Holiday Homes

Learn more about this year’s must-see properties that will be adorned with floral inspirations created by local designers.

Be a Designer for our Tabletop Trees & Menorahs

This historical landmark in Ojai’s charming neighborhood, the Arbolada, designed by George Washington Smith, is a classic example of the Spanish Colonial Revival style reminiscent of simple Andalusian farmhouses. Commissioned by Edward Drummond Libbey in the early 1920s as “Spec House A” the house has hosted many fascinating residents, including mafioso Jimmy (the Weasel) Fratiano, the Huyler family of chocolate factory renown, and the son of spy novelist John LeCarre.

Owners Tiese and Robert Quinn describe it in more picturesque terms – ¨elegant simplicity.¨ There is a feeling of understated sophistication with many original architectural details such as the tile roof over high beam ceilings, polished rich wood and old world imported Spanish tile floors that grace the rooms of the home.

The Native American-themed art throughout creates the perfect artistic atmosphere. There are bronzes in several rooms by Allan Houser, Cyrus Edwin Dallin, and Charles Russell. On the walls are a watercolor by actor/artist Buck Taylor and oils by Z.S. Liang as well as local favorite and friend of the owners, Sharon Butler. 

The upstairs, now the master suite, has been created from the two original upstairs rooms. Looking down from the wrought iron balcony, or passing through the trio of French doors below, you feel transported to the Spanish countryside. The centerpiece courtyard fountain, adorned by bright Tunisian tiles imported from Spain 100 years ago, welcomes you to a tranquil setting. A saltwater pool is lined with tile by local artisans RTK Tiles.  A separate weaving studio completes the sanctuary, making it the ideal home for the owners, who moved to Ojai after instantly falling in love with a picture as seen in a magazine. When you see this beautiful abode, you will understand why!

Footnotes from the owners Tiese & Bob Quinn:

SPEC HOUSE “A” — Passing through the wrought iron gate covered by Cecil Brunner roses opens a view of the front of the house sheltered by the majestic oaks which fill the property.  For many years this property was known as “Kathy’s Oaks” for the daughter of Harry Finley, a successful Beverly Hills florist who owned the property at the time.  Many long time Ojai residents still refer to the property this way.  The Peace Guy quietly watches visitors approach.

The approach to the house is on original brick walkways passing the fountain which was placed in front of the covered cloister and the front door.  Although the jar on the fountain is not original, the tile is just as placed in 1921 – 1922 when the house was built.  This tile, along with that of the living room floor and the tile which circles the living room, is original to the house and already old when imported from Spain for the home.

On the east side of the cloister is one of two Hillside Pottery vases belonging to the owners.  Hillside Pottery was a local company located up Foothill Road.  Adjacent to the entry is the official plaque for Ojai Historical Landmark No. 16.  At the west end of the cloister is a bronze sculpture by Francisco Zuniga.

LIVING ROOM — Enter one of the three sets of French doors facing the cloister to be met by the expanse of living room that remains as designed by George Washington Smith with its vaulted and beamed ceiling and fireplace, protected by the large bronze created by Cyrus Edwin Dallin in 1910, called “The Scout.”  The large collection of Native American art is visible throughout the home, much of which is historical.  In a place of honor over the fireplace is an oil painting by contemporary artist, Z.S. Liang, while an oil by Roy Anderson on the facing wall provides a splash of color and action.  An antique bronze of wolves is supported by a Stickley Library Table, one of several pieces in the living room handed down from the owner’s grandparents.

LIBRARY — This cozy room was added in about 1996 along with the three bedrooms and two baths behind it.  Although designed to complement the original, it is just enough different to not be confused as original to the house.  The room contains an oil collage by local artist and friend Sharon Butler which is over the fireplace and an oil by Francis Livingston over the couch. 

DINING ROOM — Featuring French doors to the patio and many gardens, the dining room showcases the Steven Handelman lighting fixtures which are throughout the house, the small alcove with a 17th century figure, a printer’s cabinet that was in the owner’s father’s print shop in Los Angeles, and an oil painting featuring Harvest by Tim Soliday over the Stickley sideboard.

The table is set for a time of harvest Thanksgiving during the period of the Harvest Moon.  Wedgwood China “Cream Color on Celedon,” Wallace sterling silver “Lily” from the early 1900’s and inherited from the owner’s grandmother, and Libbey “Mosque Rose” glassware also from early 1900 and hand cut in the basement of the Libbey Glass.  The owners always include an unused place setting for those who have walked on.

MASTER BEDROOM — The master suite was created from the two bedrooms and bathroom that originally were the only bedrooms in the home with the exception of the maid’s quarters.  A Billy Scheck oil faces the bed while dolls made by the owner’s mother during WWII are above the bed.  Over the bathtub is a painting by Bill Bender called Bringing home Christmas.  

OUTDOORS — The Pool is salt water and the pool tile is by local RTK Tile Studio.

After receiving the prestigious Rome Prize in 2008, architect Fred Fisher and his wife, Jennie Prebor, along with sons Henry and Eugene, spent a transformative year in Rome. Returning to Los Angeles, they found nine acres with an olive grove hidden away at the edge of Ojai with gorgeous mountain and valley views that inspired them to choose the site despite its derelict condition. While the house was being planned Jennie established a store on the Arcade, BlancheSylvia, and the boys attended Ojai Valley School.

This is the home a renowned architect designs for his own family – an oasis of comfort for their friends as well as a gorgeous venue for community fundraisers.  The three-story “box on a hill.” covered with rusted corrugated metal, is reminiscent of the Tuscan villas on hilltops that left such an impression on them. From this perch, the views on all sides are breathtaking, and the light dances throughout – the perfect spot to savor a Pink Moment.

Unique touches abound in every corner – brightly colored rugs and pillows delight the eye, accenting the bright primary colors – a fire-engine red kitchen island, custom cabinetry by artist Roy McMakin, a yellow Dutch door, and purple sofas.  The home is adorned with an eclectic collection of works by Ojai artists including John Nava, Guy Webster, and Beatrice Wood. The furnishings were carefully curated for aesthetics and ambiance. A cozy upstairs nook with fireplace and bookshelf-lined sitting area invites quiet reflection or family interaction. The laser-cut steel stair railing is a work of art in itself. A stargazing deck adjoins the bedroom. The home respects the ¨legacy¨ property that they are committed to preserve for the Ojai we all value so dearly.

Footnotes from the owners, Fred Fisher and Jennie Prebor:

ARTWORK — The Cougar & Bird painting in vestibule is by Tim Ebner, and the tapestry is by Ojai artist John Nava. The piece is a test weaving for a Commission in Princeton’s Firestone Library, for which we designed the renovation.

The flag is a family heirloom, an 1874 ensign. My great grandmother (Fred’s) was married under it. The map is a print of a high resolution scan made by the “Nolli Map project “ of University of Oregon and Stanford led by Erik Steiner. The photo on metal in the vestibule is by William Bailey and small Chuck Arnoldi by window.  

The green photo in the library is by Guy Webster & used for a Procol Harum album cover, next to Karl Blosfeld flower photo.  

Over the living room fireplace blue painting by Eric Orr. Pair of Donald Judd prints left of fireplace. Kim McCarty watercolors of boys in stairwell.

Ed Ruscha print over kitchen fireplace. Richard Hamilton print over library fireplace. Sam Watters ink drawings beside my desk. Marc Swanson drape sculpture over main bedroom fireplace. Guy Dill figure drawing next to our bed.

(Fred’s) My watercolor of house concept on black chest next to dining table. 

In 1929, Austen Pierpont designed this Spanish Colonial style home on four of the original 60 acres of Country Club Estates, to recreate the look of Santa Barbara in Ojai. Original owners Mary and Roger Bard, who christened the place La Tranquilidad, planted many oaks, as well as the pomegranate tree which still adorns the courtyard. Pierpont recreated the traditional Monterrey style of whitewashed walls, with balconies running the full length of the house in front and back. Large windows set in thick adobe walls make the bedrooms bright and offer splendid views of the scenic mountains and upper Ojai Valley, framed by lush trees and bright landscaping. Contrasting the white walls are dark hardwood floors and bannisters, built-in cabinetry and bold original tiles, all adding to the charm and authenticity of the home.

The house is currently home to Linda Granat. She and her late husband Frank purchased the home in 1991 when they were looking for a retreat from their life in New York where they own the legendary Knickerbocker Restaurant. Linda knew the minute she walked up to the house it was where she wanted to live. Around every corner are serendipitous spots inviting moments of peaceful respite or social gatherings – coffee patios, outdoor dining and picnic spots, book nook window seats, four swings suspended from huge trees – and stone pathways meandering in every direction, beckoning you to wander and discover. An old rock oven sits sentinel over the tranquil view, while notes from the Steinway grand piano waft on the breeze.

Linda has brought a bit of French flavor to the Spanish home, including a collection of French posters collected by her husband Frank. The poster once hung in their New York apartment but now lines the elegant stairwell of the home. Whimsical folk art adds color and charm to every room. Not far from the center of town, but feeling like miles away from everything, this iconic piece of Ojai architecture personifies its original name, La Tranquilidad.

Footnotes from the owner, Linda Granat:

The painting in the living room is by local Ojai artist Mick Reinman, also in the living room above the fireplace is a painting by Robert Guerra which we (Linda and late husband Frank) commissioned for that particular spot.

In the dressing room art by Ojai artist Elisse Pogofsky-Harris and her work is also in the dining room between the windows. 

ABOUT FRANK GRANAT — Born in San Francisco, Frank was the son of one of the founders of Granat Brothers Jewelers. After graduating from Stanford University in 1950, Frank went on to a long and successful career as a Broadway producer and restauranteur in New York City, establishing the famous Knickerbocker Bar & Grill. A favorite in Greenwich Village, the Knickerbocker was known for its jazz and was a favorite among many celebrities from Alec Baldwin and Chris Noth to Ben Stiller, Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon. 



Be a Designer for our Tabletop Trees & Menorahs

Home Tour & Marketplace – Virtual Edition

Premiering on Saturday, November 21, 2020 

The Ojai Women’s Committee invites you to join in a creative and “cinematic” celebration of the renowned architecture of Ojai. This challenging year has opened an opportunity for the Women’s Committee to re-imagine the beloved event by presenting Ojai Valley homes – virtually – that would not have been on our traditional tour due to logistical or geographical restrictions. 

Guests will enjoy an online tour of must-see properties with holiday floral inspirations created by local designers. The digital edition allows guests to learn about architectural details and will include intimate stories of each home. With the tour hosted by celebrated designer and author Brooke Giannetti and renowned architect Steve Giannetti (Patina Farm) and filmed by Square Productions, the Home Tour will continue as an awe-inspiring experience.

The Holiday Marketplace also rises to the challenge with a virtual marketplace, featuring many loyal vendors from markets past as well as new options from local retailers and artists. 

The ease of accessing an online tour and marketplace will keep this treasured tradition front of mind with ardent followers and hope to gain new friends to celebrate the joys of the holiday seasons.

Entering its 24th year, the event continues to benefit the Ojai Music Festival and its BRAVO education and community program, which offers free music workshops to the Ojai Valley public schools and the community even throughout these challenging times. 

Now more than ever, the Ojai Festival Women’s Committee’s role to support the Festival and music in the schools is critical. Help these programs thrive by becoming an event sponsor, which will give complimentary access to the video portal.

Become a Patron Sponsor


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

Joan Kemper Way

On a characteristically hot and sunny Ojai September day, a small group of people gathered in Libbey Park to honor Joan Kemper, a true community hero. The path connecting the Ojai Art Center with Libbey Park was officially renamed Joan Kemper Way, honoring a woman who has been central to so many community organizations and so many worthy endeavors throughout Ojai. She is one of those treasures who makes the quality of life better not only for those around her but also for so many people she may never meet.

Joan was a relatively recent arrival to Ojai when she stepped in to serve as Executive Director of the Ojai Festival in the early 1990s. I had the huge pleasure of working with her for several years and marveled at her boundless gifts for making things happen. She is one of those remarkable people who has never met a problem she couldn’t solve. The Festival was floundering without leadership at the time she took it over – there was no task to large or small for Joan, who is one of the most persuasive and creative problem solvers I’ve ever met.

In one of my fondest memories, Peter Sellars was directing a fresh re-thinking of Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat with Music Director Pierre Boulez conducting in 1992. Peter wanted to capture Stravinsky’s original intent of a certain street-theater atmosphere, updated to the present time. And so he wanted to have a full-size pickup truck on stage at Libbey Bowl to capture that spirit. How to find a loaner pickup truck and get it up on stage? Leave it to Joan to draw upon friends across the community to help with getting the truck, creating a series of safe ramps, and getting it up on stage.

Good things happened whenever Joan is around, particularly throughout the Ojai community. She has a way of rallying people to a common cause, with music and theater being especially close to her heart. She gets you to pitch in and then she makes the whole thing such great fun that you end up thanking her. These days, Joan may slyly say, “you know, I’m basically a hundred years old” – it’s only a slight exaggeration – but her wonderful indefatigable spirit seems to me as lively and inspiring as it was on the day I met her.

I am grateful, like so many others, to travel on Joan Kemper Way! Long may you brighten our lives, Joan.

  • Ara Guzelimian, Artistic & Executive Director

Ojai photos by Stephen Adams, Peter Sellers and Pierre Boulez by Betty Freeman

Play Music on the Porch – A Virtual Global Effort


Now more than ever, creative expression is important to join together even in the virtual world! 

The Ojai Festival’s BRAVO education & community program is delighted to partner with Porch Gallery Ojai by organizing performances of Ojai-area musicians and students for #PlayMusicOnThePorchDay on Saturday, August 29, beginning at 10am.

For the fifth time, Porch Gallery Ojai will join in this global effort to continuing the tradition of singing and playing to re-establish music as an inclusive, shared and participatory celebration of life. Set your calendar for August 29 when we will launch music videos, played in porches across the Ojai Valley! Videos can be accessed, here, on our website or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ojaifestival/.

“The BRAVO program is pleased to work with the Porch Gallery Ojai in this year’s Music on the Porch project. Local musicians enrich the BRAVO program throughout the year, and we feel deeply grateful for their contributions once again, to help us all connect through music. The arts can help us build bridges of hope,” shared BRAVO coordinator Laura Walter.

What is Play Music On The Porch Day?
In 2013 the founder, Brian Mallman, of Play Music on the Porch Day decided to share the idea – “What if for one day everything stopped…and we all just listened to the music?” –  with the world.  Since then, thousands of musicians from at least 75 countries and over 1450 cities have participated and this movement continues to grow every day with artists, regardless of their differences, are finding common ground through music. Learn more here >

Ojai’s line-up of wonderful musicians providing music for all to enjoy, and inspire us to revive the tradition of gathering, singing and playing music outside with friends and family virtually and safely social distancing! 

Chaparral Swing Band
Celtic Nut (Eilam, Noahm and Edaan Byle)
Licity Collins
Fran Gealer
Coree Kotula 
Ruby Skye
Kaylie Turner 
Babette & Bob Vasquez
Jess Wayne


special thanks to our partner:

Let us help: read our FAQ

The Ojai Music Festival is extremely grateful for our community’s support. We’ve addressed some potential questions that you may have during this time.  As always, please feel free to reach out to us. 

Is your office open?
While our physical offices are still closed to the public at this time, our team is available Monday-Friday, 10AM-5PM if you need assistance. Contact us by email at [email protected] or by phone at (805) 646-2094.

Now that the Festival is September 16 to 19, will you be doing anything in June to commemorate the Festival? 
We are planning a 75th anniversary kick-off celebration of the Festival beginning in June in Ojai, following safety guidelines. We will continue through the summer with activities, in partnership with Southern California organizations, with newly created online offerings and will culminate in September when we gather in Ojai. Details will be announced later.

Why did you move the Festival in June?
This, of course, is a change from our long-held tradition of a June festival but we felt strongly that we wanted to hold the Ojai Festival at a time when we could do so under the best possible conditions of health and safety for all. The Board of Directors and staff came to this decision after extensive consultation with public health professionals and government agencies, determining best practices in conversations with fellow arts organizations nationwide, and importantly, in discussions with the artists themselves. Remarkably, every single artist originally engaged for the June period has been able to make themselves available for the September dates.

Are their opportunities to observe Yom Kippur?
Festival events will begin at 9pm on September 16 in recognition of the observance of Yom Kippur. Ojai’s Jewish Temple will be observing with services on Wednesday, September 15 through Thursday, September 16 and welcomes guests to join them, based on safety measures in place at that time. For information, visit their website http://www.ojaitemple.org. The full Festival concert schedule will be announced in coming months. 

What type of health protocols will be in place?  
The Festival is committed to ensuring the highest level of safety measures during our four-day immersive experience in the beautiful outdoor setting of the Ojai Valley. This will include mask wearing, physical distancing, enhanced sanitization, and advance screening. We will continue to work with a team of health professionals on our safety protocols during these ever-changing circumstances. We will base decisions on the CDC, state and county guidelines for performing venues. 

If I purchased series tickets for the 2021 Festival in June what happens to my tickets?   
Your series tickets will be transferred to the Festival in September, and no other action is required. Due to the shutdown in 2020 and now the moving of the Festival date, we are facing a significant loss of revenue. If you cannot attend in September, we invite you to donate the value of your ticketsto help us remain resilient and to plan for the 75th Festival, and future Festivals.  Your patience and generosity is deeply appreciated.  You will receive a tax-deductible receipt for your donation.  Another option is to underwrite Ventura County essential workers, who can enjoy the Festival experience in the wonderful setting of Ojai. For details on how to donate your series tickets, please call us at 805 646 2053.

Can I purchase 2021 series passes? Yes, we encourage you to do so!  We will continue selling passes but will not be issuing seating assignments until early summer. Single tickets will go on sale closer to September.  

When will you let us know about our seats for the 75th Festival in September?  
Seating will be processed over the early summer once we receive safe seating capacity guidelines from state officials. We will be in touch with you at that time. Thank you for your patience.

With the evolving challenges of the pandemic, what is the Festival’s ticket policy?
Purchasing your series passes is risk-free. As we navigate this time of uncertainty you can feel confident that we will be flexible in handling ticket policy options for our patrons. Please contact us at 805 646 2053 if you have any questions.

What about Ojai lodging?
Sheila Cohn at (805) 794-0115 will be able to assist you in moving Ojai Valley Inn rooms to September. We have a room block at Casa Ojai Inn. Use 75OMF2021 when booking your room: https://secure.webrez.com/hotel/2371/?package_id=223453&date_from=20210916&date_to=20210919

How can we stay connected with the Festival?
We are looking forward to seeing all our patrons as soon as it is safe. In the meantime, we invite you to visit our concert archives on our website and our 2021 virtual Ojai Talks. In addition, we plan to continue serving our global Festival family with more digital offerings through the spring. If you would like to receive our monthly e-newsletters for updates, please email us at [email protected]

How can I support the Ojai Music Festival during this time?
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. 75 years of transformative music experiences have been made possible by our Festival family. We thank you for considering supporting us toinspire us to dream and to plan boldly for the future.  Click here to donate >

Calder Quartet in a “Quarantine Style” Performance

With works by Cage, Stravinsky, Ockeghem interspersed with arrangements by Kurtág, and Beethoven to reflect on the new and old.

Ara Guzelimian

Ara Guzelimian is Artistic and 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 its divisions – dance, drama and music. He continues in a transitional role 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; in that post, he oversaw the artistic planning and programming for the opening of Zankel Hall in 2003. He was also host and producer of the acclaimed “Making Music” composer series at Carnegie Hall from 1999 to 2008. 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.

He has given lectures and taught at the invitation of the Metropolitan Opera, the Salzburg Easter Festival, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Chicago Symphony, the National Center for the Performing Arts in Taipei and the Jerusalem Music Center. 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. As a writer and music critic, he has contributed to such publications as Musical America, Opera Quarterly, Opera News, Symphony magazine, The New York Times, the Record Geijutsu magazine (Tokyo), the program books of the Salzburg and the Helsinki Festivals, and the journal for the IRCAM center in Paris.

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. The Chicago, Boston, and London Symphony orchestras, conducted by Bernard Haitink, have performed Mr. Guzelimian’s performing edition of Mendelssohn’s incidental music to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 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.

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Views of Ojai

While we can’t be together in Ojai for our traditional four days and four nights of music, discovery and gatherings, we have put together this brief photo gallery from local Ojai friends and photographers. When the time comes to leave our homes and neighborhoods feeling safe and healthy, the picturesque Ojai Valley will be there to enrich our souls.

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Thanks to Cindy Pitou Burton, Cathy Diorio, Gillian McManus, Meditation Mount, Caitlin Praetorius, and Ben Hoffman of Square Productions for photos, Featured image on home page by Ray Powers.

The Art of Transitions


How do we listen to music now? That question might at first prompt a quick checklist of our tech gear — the tools of mechanical reproduction and propagation that have become ever more refined over the 143 years since Thomas Edison first introduced the wax cylinder. But several months into the coronavirus pandemic — with our experience of live performances at best limited to streaming — many of us have been forced to rethink our relationship to music itself.  

How we listen now comes with a fresh awareness of the fragility, the vulnerability of this art — the very traits that make it so transformative. For music exists most fully as a live, present-tense exchange among what Benjamin Britten famously termed the “Holy Trinity” of audience, performer, and composer. Music is an art of transitions. It travels between these vertices in unrepeatable ways, tracing interactive pathways that are unique to each performance. And, in the process, music moves from the material to the immaterial. By definition bound to time, it exists through ephemeral sounds that reverberate in a specific space. Yet music simultaneously occupies a realm, inscribed in memory, that defies time and physical distance.  

All of these topics come into play in the program that Matthias Pintscher planned for the 2020 Ojai Festival. Against the backdrop of the current crisis, his vision has an added resonance that is uncanny, since Pintscher’s core approach to music is to shake away facile assumptions, inviting the audience to question again the very basis of how they listen, and to listen with heightened awareness — to intriguing discoveries from contemporary composers and familiar repertoire alike. The metaphor of a landscape appears frequently in his discussions of music:  

“Landscapes are mostly diverse. Landscapes hold surprises and are deeply human in the end. Music somehow has the same vulnerability and sensitivity as a landscape. You have to care deeply when you put together a program or cultivate a landscape. These are all works that have been part of my life for a long time. As music director, you bring works and flavors and personalities that people have never heard of, and you present pieces they know in a new light.”  

Landscapes, like music, are also about transitions. Various kinds of transitions emerge from the underlying threads that link Pintscher’s intricately designed sequence of programs. Take the transition from his own mentor, Pierre Boulez, to himself and other peers who have navigated paths unforeseen by the postwar Modernists. Pintscher stands as a prime exemplar of these, combining formidable gifts as a composer, conductor, curator, and teacher. A self-described wanderer who was led by curiosity to leave his native Germany as a teenager and who lived in England and Israel in his 20s, Pintscher now divides his time, when not on the road, between Paris and Manhattan. His compositions often explore the transition from indistinct noise to the most refined timbral combinations. They draw on his love of visual art, poetry, and theater, transitioning among these different artistic media without betraying music’s inherent self-referentiality. The 2020 program encompasses a de facto retrospective of Pintscher’s instrumental writing, from an early string quartet that responds to Gesualdo’s late-Renaissance spiritual strife to his recent piano concerto Nur (the Hebrew word for fire), in which impulses from today’s young American avant-garde are discernible.  

As a conductor educated in the fine details of Boulezian aesthetics, Pintscher fondly recalls the first score he studied with the Frenchman Debussy’s exquisite late ballet Jeux. Boulez’s simultaneous command of surface and structure, detail and design, “informed my insight into sound production, into what it means to tackle a style to conduct an orchestra.” Boulez himself proved to be a master of the “art of transition” in the sense in which Wagner used the phrase: with reference to Tristan und Isolde, where he described his ability to shift gradually from one extreme state to another as perhaps his “finest and deepest art.”  

Pintscher ascribes Boulez’s outlook to a “consciousness of detail” that he associates with French culture (and with cooking, another passion). But this also coexists for Pintscher with a love of surprises, with unexpected juxtapositions. Olga Neuwirth’s music could hardly be more different, yet Pintscher, who has long felt a close rapport with his Austrian peer, is one of her most steadfast champions. He recently conducted the world premiere of her Virginia Woolf–inspired opera Orlando — the first opera commissioned from a female composer by the storied Vienna Staatsoper. The moment he began thinking up his ideal programming choices for Ojai, Pintscher says, he knew he wanted to spotlight Neuwirth. Before the pandemic, the plan was for him to conduct the U.S. premiere of Le encantadas, her immersive response to Herman Melville, in Los Angeles — a prelude to set the stage for the Ojai Festival.  

A fiercely original and independent musical thinker, Neuwirth is well represented here in works that respond, variously, to Billie Holiday, the ascetic outsider artist Henry Darger, and J.S. Bach. She relishes theatrically animated hybrids of style, genre, and mood, always showing an urge to reinvent herself and her inspirations. As a young student, Neuwirth spent formative years in San Francisco and developed an abiding fascination with American culture — especially its subversive trends in film and music. Yet she is also a “deeply Austrian” artist Pintscher notes, sharing the obsessions of Schubert and Alban Berg and rebellious in her critiques of philistine conformity by her fellow Austrians. For this she was often marginalized early in her career, when Boulez became one of the few in power to offer his support.  

What was intended as the long-overdue Ojai debut of the Ensemble intercontemporain (EIC) further underscores the complexity of the Boulezian-Pintscher lineage and brings to mind key moments of transition in Ojai’s history as well. As the embodiment of Boulezian values in practice today, EIC would have given the 2020 Festival a striking historical footprint — even though the ensemble had never previously appeared here. Starting in 1967, Boulez served as music director for seven summers at various points in the Festival’s history up to 2003.  

photo by Robert Millard

Boulez’s repeated attraction to this special place — over a period spanning some 36 years — is a remarkable phenomenon, according to Chad Smith, artistic director of the 2020 edition. “Southern California might seem an unlikely place for a Parisian intellectual who brought such a sense of rigorousness to music.” Yet Ojai provided a kind of freedom to breathe that the French master lacked elsewhere. Ojai, a place of natural perfection that conjures paradise for so many, beckoned to Boulez with his own concepts of musical perfectibility, as Smith points out. It was here that he could make an attempt at “perfecting paradise.” In this sense, Pintscher’s Ojai programs posit another transition — an invisible bridge — between concepts of new music in Europe and in the US, from the linearity of discarded notions of “progress” to the riotous, chaotic crazy quilt of diverse possibilities that are a young composer’s to choose from today. The chance to encounter sur Incises, arguably the French master’s most satisfying composition, in the beautiful setting of the Bowl promised to spark a very different understanding of this music, its dazzlingly planned intricacies of texture coming closer to the complex freedoms of jazz — or of the skeins of melody Steve Reich liberates from amplified voices and tuned percussion in Tehillim. The presence of Reich and other American composers, incidentally, helps to right a notable shortcoming of Boulez’s Ojai programming, which notoriously skipped over the work being done by Americans in those years, particularly those animated by the energy of Minimalism.  

The Reich title is one of several Hebrew words that pop up in Pintscher’s programs, beginning with The Beginning — bereshit, the name of Pintscher’s fascinating meditation inspired by the first word of Genesis — and continuing with an entire program built around the biblical Creation story, including a new Ojai commission from Toshio Hosokawa treating the Flood, which sets the whole process back in motion again. Pintscher’s own catalogue is replete with Hebrew titles. Those chosen for the Festival programs in turn suggest a thread of spirituality — in counterpoint to Boulez’s resolutely materialist secularism — that subtly emerges alongside references to J.S. Bach’s divinely inspired quest for compositional perfection, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Gospel-based calls for justice (Olga Neuwirth), and American Transcendentalism (Charles Ives). Steve Reich’s Tehillim itself implicitly asserts the ancient link between words and music as an organized ritual of praise.  

As an art of transitions, music is blessed/condemned to be an art of transience: the notes, colors, combinations which it comprises are destined to fade into nonexistence. Like immortality, music that did not die would rob us of any sense of meaning. This is the paradox Mahler, another traveler between worlds (Old and New, Jewish and Christian, composer and performer) explores so movingly in his late Das Lied von der Erde. The longing for eternity, given voice in the final, longest movement, is at its most acute in a scene of leave-taking.  


Thomas May is a freelance writer, critic, educator, and translator. He has written for The New York Times and regularly contributes to the program books of the Lucerne Festival, Metropolitan Opera, and Juilliard School. His books include Decoding Wagner and The John Adams Reader. Visit Thomas May’s website at https://memeteria.com/