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 

Ojai Talk Live Stream

Ojai Talk Live Stream

Steve Reich, Composer

Olga Neuwirth, Composer

Patrons Bring Added Assurance

We, like all of our communities, are grappling with a very different way forward these days.  After cancelling the 2020 Ojai Music Festival, we were not able to share “building a musical bridge between Europe and America” – the vision of composerconductor and 2020 Music Director, Matthias Pintscher.  In reaching out to all of you and to our wonderful artists with the cancellation news, we were greeted by kindness and by the solidarity that binds us together in raising up music to the world.  Here are some generous words of support that we received:

“We will miss out on the potentially Life Changing experiences that happen almost every year.” 


“Over the past few weeks, there has been a depressing wave of cancellations, but this one hurt the most. The Ojai Music Festival is always my favorite event of the year.”  


“The effort that it takes for all of you to make this week happen every year behind the scenes is just unimaginable. My heart goes out to each and everyone of you….Please know that your devotion to the cause of bringing the arts to all of us is recognized and appreciated.” 


“These are definitely extraordinary times.  In the past 46 years, my husband & I missed only one festival due to an accident.  Every year, the festival is such a special experience for us & we will miss it greatly this year.”


To honor each of our patrons and the artists who share in this work, we have created weekly online offerings from our archives of past Festivals called Tune in Tuesdays And just as each of you misses the chance to connect at the Festival, so do our Ojai Valley studentswho now relish coming together in Song and Play with Laura Walter, virtually, each Thursday. 

“Thank you, Laura. Your smile and those cute, funny songs make the kids so happy during these lonely days. We love and miss you. Your music classes make my week!” 

While we cannot be together in Ojai, in Libbey Bowl, or in our classrooms with Laura, we can continue to bring you these memories and moments, until it is safe for us all.  In this liminal space we invite you to consider making a gift to support this work, this music, this community.  Together, we will rise above this time, to gather again in celebration of transcendent music in 2021, for the 75th Ojai Music Festival. 

Vendor Agreement

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 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>>

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 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.

Read our FAQ to help you plan your 2021 Festival. 
2021 FAQ Sheet


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 you, our Festival familyYou inspire us to dream and to plan boldly for the future. We thank you!

Click here to make a donation>>

Announcing New Music Directors and 75th Anniversary Celebrations

Ojai Music Festival announces 75th anniversary celebrations beginning with the appointment of John Adams as 2021 Music Director (June 10–13, 2021) and culminating with American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) as Music Director for the 2022 Festival (June 9–12, 2022)

(OJAI, California, March 2, 2020) – Ojai Music Festival and Artistic Director designate Ara Guzelimian announced today the appointment of composer/conductor John Adams as the 2021 Music Director for the 75th Festival (June 10–13, 2021), followed by American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) as Music Director for the 76th Festival in 2022, culminating the Festival’s 75th Anniversary year.

Mr. Guzelimian’s tenure follows that of current Artistic Director Chad Smith, who was appointed CEO of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in October 2019. Mr. Smith planned the upcoming 2020 Festival with Music Director Matthias Pintscher (June 11–14, 2020) and the Ensemble intercontemporain, featuring music of Olga Neuwirth, Steve Reich, Pierre Boulez, and Matthias Pintscher among many others. Mitsuko Uchida, who was previously announced to lead the 2021 Festival, has asked to postpone her appointment because of scheduling conflicts and will return as Music Director in a future Festival.

For more than seven decades, the Ojai Music Festival has flourished as a creative laboratory by combining a boundless sense of adventure, an expansive musical curiosity, and an atmosphere of relaxed but focused informality. Each year a different Music Director is given the freedom and the resources to imagine four days of musical brainstorming. Ojai’s signature blend of an enchanted setting and an audience voracious in its appetite for challenge and discovery has inspired a distinguished series of musical innovators – from Boulez, Copland, and Stravinsky in its formative years to Barbara Hannigan, Vijay Iyer, and Patricia Kopatchinskaja in recent times – to push artistic boundaries. In announcing the appointments of John Adams and AMOC, the Festival now charts a course for its next chapters under the leadership of Artistic Director Ara Guzelimian.

“I am utterly delighted to begin my time at Ojai in the company of artists who continue to advance the forward-looking perspective that has defined Ojai for so long,” said Mr. Guzelimian, who begins his tenure with Ojai following the 2020 Festival. “John Adams’ work as a composer, conductor and tireless advocate for new music has made him a central figure in the musical life of our time. With his characteristic eagerness and curiosity, we have begun conversations about the many young composers he admires and wants to champion at Ojai in 2021.”

“AMOC, the 2022 Music Director, is not exactly an opera company but a remarkable collective of composers, singers, stage directors, choreographers, dancers, and instrumentalists who are among the brightest and freshest artistic voices to emerge in the last few years. We will make our first Ojai acquaintance with numerous members of AMOC as well as welcome back such Festival artists as Julia Bullock, Davóne Tines, and Jay Campbell. We are in for a great adventure,” added Mr. Guzelimian. “But first things first. I am excited about the more immediate 2020 Ojai Music Festival created by Music Director Matthias Pintscher and Artistic Director Chad Smith. I know that these wonderful artistic thinkers have conjured an exceptional musical journey, both true to the spirit of the Festival and also expanding its possibilities.”

As Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival, Mr. Adams will follow violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja (2018), soprano/conductor Barbara Hannigan (2019), and Matthias Pintscher (2020). Prior to this 2021 collaboration, Mr. Adams served as Ojai’s Music Director in 1993. Initial details for Mr. Adams’ 2021 Festival will be announced in June 2020. Ojai’s 2022 Music Director will be American Modern Opera Company (AMOC). As described by The Boston Globe, AMOC is “a creative incubator par excellence . . . where the boundaries between disciplines go to die.” A collective of some of the most creative, forward-thinking artists, AMOC is led by its Artistic Directors composer/conductor Matthew Aucoin and director/choreographer Zack Winokur collaborating with Core Ensemble members Jonny Allen (percussion), Paul Appleby (tenor), Doug Balliett (double bass/composer), Julia Bullock (soprano), Jay Campbell (cello), Anthony Roth Costanzo (countertenor), Miranda Cuckson (violin/viola), Julia Eichten (dancer/choreographer), Emi Ferguson (flute), Keir GoGwilt (violin/writer), Conor Hanick (piano), Coleman Itzkoff (cello), Or Schraiber (dancer/choreographer), Bobbi Jene Smith (dancer/choreographer), and Davóne Tines (bass-baritone). Julia Bullock, Davóne Tines, and Jay Campbell are making a welcome return to Ojai, having participated memorably in past Festivals. Prior to AMOC, Ojai has welcomed only two ensembles as Music Director: Emerson String Quartet in 2002 and Eighth Blackbird in 2009.

John Adams, 2021 Music Director
AMOC, 2022 Music Director
Ara Guzelimian, Artistic Director designate


Press contacts:
Ojai Music Festival: Gina Gutierrez,, 805 646 2094
National/International: Nikki Scandalios,, 704 340 4094

74th Ojai Music Festival Cancelled

Dear Friends, 

I hope you are staying well during this challenging time. This letter is an extremely difficult one to share, but I am writing to let you know that we have made the heartbreaking decision to cancel the 74th Ojai Music Festival, June 11 to 14, 2020, that was brilliantly imagined by Music Director Matthias Pintscher in collaboration with 2020 Artistic Director Chad Smith.

On behalf of my Board colleagues, CEO Jamie Bennett, and the artistic and administrative teams, we are deeply saddened that during this unprecedented uncertainty, this decision is not just a necessary and right step, it is the only step. As we were monitoring the COVID-19 crisis over these last several weeks, we considered the unpredictability of travel as well as the safety and comfort of our artists and patrons. It has also become clear that the institution cannot shoulder the projected financial burden due to the forecasted drop in Festival revenue and increase in Festival expenses.  This unfortunate immediate cancellationis necessitated by our ultimate goal to ensure that the Ojai Music Festival continues to inspire audiences and artists for generations to come. We have communicated our decision to our collaborators, including artists and the production team. We will ensure that the many volunteers whose contributions are incalculable – from ushers to those who provide housing – are contacted directly in the coming days. Our administrative team will reach out to Ojai business partners who are a critical part of the fabric of our Festival experience each year. 

To date and to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), the Ojai Music Festival postponed a scheduled March 22 event in Los Angeles. We also suspended our BRAVO education residencies in the schools due to the Ojai Unified School District closures. Following the shelter in place order as per Governor Newsom’s office, staff is now working from home. 

The Ojai Music Festival is often cited as a creative laboratory for artists and audiences, and our famously engaged and adventurous patrons are key to each Festival experience. For those who have purchased series tickets to the 2020 Festival, we ask you to consider a tax-deductible donation of the value of your tickets to the Ojai Music Festival, which will empower us to keep the Festival moving forward. Alternatively, you may use the value of 2020 tickets toward 2021 Festival ticket purchases, or we will issue refunds. For personalized service, please contact the box office at 805 646 2053, Monday through Friday, 10am-5pm. We expect a high volume of calls and thank you for your patience and support as we navigate this challenging time. 

You are essential to the success of this jewel that is the Ojai Music Festival. Thank you and know that your Ojai family is thinking of you during this difficult time. We have begun to implement efforts to stay more connected with our Festival community, including sharing daily Festival concert archives released on our Facebook channel and website. For families, we are creating digital content through our BRAVO music education program. We will keep you posted as we offer additional online content. 

We are beyond grateful to each and every person who comprises our Festival family – those who join with us onsite in Ojai and those who access our Festival concert broadcasts. Planning for the 2021 Festival is well underway, and we will keep you posted as Ara Guzelimian and John Adams’ programming takes shape. We look forward to reuniting with you at the 75th Ojai Music Festival in June 2021. Until then, please stay well. 

With deep gratitude,


Jerry Eberhardt 
Chairman of the Board


Ticket Policy and Donations
Concert Archives 


Stay Connected and Reminisce with our Archives

Ojai has been a creative laboratory for today’s pathbreaking artists
featuring refreshing new works to open our hearts and minds. 

Dear Friends, 

As all of us are hunkered down during these challenging times, we invite you to stay connected through the music that inspires, challenges and delights us in Ojai. Here are a few concerts archived of Ojai Music Festival performances featuring the likes of Julia Bullock, Claire Chase, and Patricia Kopatchinskaja.

You can access more concerts on our YouTube channel, too. Click here >

Happy viewing!
The Ojai Music Festival staff  

Josephine Baker: A Portrait – World Premiere
Arrangements and new music by Tyshawn Sorey
Julia Bullock, soprano
Tyshawn Sorey, piano and drums

Density 2036
EDGARD VARÉSE: Density 21.5 Claire Chase, flute
SUZANNE FARRIN: The Stimulus of Loss for glissando headjoint and recorded ondes martenot Claire Chase, flute
TYSHAWN SOREY: Bertha’s Lair Claire Chase, contrabass flute | Tyshawn Sorey, drums
VIJAY IYER: Flute Goals (Five Empty Chambers) for tape Claire Chase, improvised flute
PAUCHI SASAKI: Gama XV Claire Chase, bass flute/vocals/speaker dress | Pauchi Sasaki, violin/electronics/vocals/speaker dress
MARCOS BALTER: Pan (excerpt) Claire Chase, flute | International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE)
Charles Ives: Unanswered Question
Franz Joseph Haydn: Symphony No. 45
Farewell (arr. Angel Hernandez-Lovera)
John Cage: Once Upon a Time from Living Room Music Johann Sebastian Bach: Es ist genug György Kurtag: The Answered Unanswered Question Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61 Patricia Kopatchinskaja, violin | Maria Ursprung, stage director | Mahler Chamber Orchestra

House an Artist, Make a Friend; Music Ties us all Together

Welcome an Ojai Music Festival artist into your home for ten days? What? Someone we had never met…a total stranger?  Deirdre Daly, Ojai Music Festival Housing Manager, is quite persuasive. Cheryl Armstrong and Mirta Milares said yes.

Every year, the Ojai Music Festival welcomes dozens upon dozens of artists from around the world, each bringing their own artistic insights, talents, and stories as they experience Ojai for the first time. 

Last year, Music Director Barbara Hannigan brought young talent from all across Europe with her Equilibrium Young Artists, a program to further the professional development of distinguished singers early in their professional careers, elevating their total musicianship and discipline, and offering projects with leading orchestras and ensembles. Of course, the Ojai Music Festival was the perfect place to showcase such a program. 

Cheryl Armstrong and Mirta Milares,  Ojai natives and Music Festival attendees, were a bit hesitant at first, but what they saw as an experiment turned into a gift that has continued giving long after the Festival ended when they welcomed singer Fleur Barron into her home. Fleur is a member of Barbara Hannigan’s Equilibrium Young Artists and has toured internationally as a solo artist and opera singer. Hailed as a “charismatic star” by the Boston Globe and as “a knockout performer” by The Times, the British-Singaporean mezzo-soprano is a 2018 HSBC Laureate of the Aix-en-Provence Festival and the recipient of the 2016 Grace B. Jackson Prize from the Tanglewood Music Festival, awarded to one outstanding young singer each year.

“While with us during the Festival, our resident mezzo- soprano, Fleur, regaled us with stories of life in the opera world. She hiked up and down the Ojai trails with us. She sang! We laughed and loved our guest, becoming and remaining proud stage moms.” 

They fast became good friends and last October, Fleur’s charisma, talent and generous soul took to her to Montpellier, France where she performed in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly. Cheryl and Mirta were in attendance.  In February 2021, she will follow her to Arizona where Fleur will star in Bizet’s Carmen.

“We couldn’t be happier that we said yes to hosting a Music Festival artist!”

If you are interested in housing one of our artists for the upcoming 2020 Festival (June 11 to 14, 2020) contact Deirdre Daly. (805) 640-5717 or email


American Modern Opera Company (AMOC)

AMOC’s mission is to develop and produce a body of discipline-colliding work, to combine traditional and experimental artistic processes, and to maintain enduring creative relationships between its members. Founded by Artistic Directors Zack Winokur and Matthew Aucoin, AMOC is made up of some of the most adventurous singers, dancers, and instrumentalists at work today in the fields of contemporary and classical music and dance.

The company’s upcoming projects include Lost Mountain, an evening-length dance work created by Bobbi Jene Smith; The No Ones Rose, a new music-dance-theater work created in partnership with San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, which features new music by Matthew Aucoin; and Veils for Desire, a staged concert featuring Anthony Roth Costanzo and Paul Appleby, which has its West Coast debut next season at the Los Angeles Opera.

Past projects include Zack Winokur’s production of Hans Werner Henze’s El Cimarrón, starring Davóne Tines, which has been performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as the American Repertory Theater; a new arrangement of John Adams’s El Niño, premiered at The Met Cloisters as part of Julia Bullock’s season-long residency at the Met Museum; Davóne Tines’s and Winokur’s Were You There, a meditation on black lives lost in recent years to police violence; and Bobbi Jene Smith and Keir GoGwilt’s dance/music works With Care and A Study on Effort, which have been produced at San Francisco’s ODC Theater, Toronto’s Illuminato Festival, and elsewhere. Conor Hanick’s performance of CAGE, Zack Winokur’s production of John Cage’s music for prepared piano, was cited as the best recital of the year by The New York Times in 2018 and The Boston Globe in 2019.

In 2017, the year the company was founded, AMOC also created the Run AMOC! Festival at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA; the company has curated and performed that festival annually for the past three years. The company’s past engagements also include performances at the Big Ears Festival, the Caramoor Festival, National Sawdust, The Clark Art Institute, and the San Diego Symphony. The company has also been in residence at the Park Avenue Armory and Harvard University.

John Adams, 2021 Music Director

Composer, conductor, and creative thinker – John Adams occupies a unique position in the world of American music.  His works, both operatic and symphonic, stand out among contemporary classical compositions for their depth of expression, brilliance of sound, and the profoundly humanist nature of their themes. Over the past 30 years, Adams’ music has played a decisive role in turning the tide of contemporary musical aesthetics away from academic modernism and toward a more expansive, expressive language, entirely characteristic of his New World surroundings. 

Born and raised in New England, Adams learned the clarinet from his father and played in marching bands and community orchestras during his formative years. He began composing at age ten and heard his first orchestral pieces performed while still a teenager. The intellectual and artistic traditions of New England, including his studies at Harvard University and attendance at Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts, helped shape him as an artist and thinker. After earning two degrees from Harvard, he moved to Northern California in 1971 and has since lived in the San Francisco Bay area.

Adams taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music for ten years before becoming composer-in-residence of the San Francisco Symphony (1982-85), and creator of the orchestra’s highly successful and controversial “New and Unusual Music” series. Many of Adams’s landmark orchestral works were written for and premiered by the San Francisco Symphony, including Harmonium (1981), Grand Pianola Music  (1982), Harmonielehre (1985) and Absolute Jest (2012).

(Elinore Adams, with the Russ Cole Band in the 1930s)

In 1985, Adams began a collaboration with stage director Peter Sellars that has resulted in three decades of groundbreaking operas and oratorios: Nixon in China (1987), The Death of Klinghoffer (1991), both to libretti by Alice Goodman, El Niño (2000), Doctor Atomic (2005), A Flowering Tree (2006), The Gospel According to the Other Mary (2012) and Girls of the Golden West (2017). Of his first opera, The New Yorker Magazine said, “Not since Porgy and Bess has an American opera won such universal acclaim as Nixon in China.”

Adams has received numerous Grammy awards, many of them for his over thirty releases on Nonesuch Records. In 2017 the Berliner Philharmoniker released The John Adams Edition, a multi-CD and DVD compilation of his music in performances conducted by Rattle, Dudamel, Petrenko, Gilbert and Adams himself.
(Carl Adams, with Ed Murphy and his Orchestra in the 1930s)

A new recording of the complete opera Doctor Atomic, with Adams conducting the BBC Symphony and featuring baritone Gerald Finley and soprano Julia Bullock was released in July, timed to the new Sellars production at the Santa Fe Opera.

Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? a new concerto for pianist Yuja Wang, will be premiered in March of 2019 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel.

Both Harvard and Yale universities have conferred honorary doctorates on Adams, as have Northwestern University, the Juilliard School and Cambridge University in England. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California honored him with the Governor’s Award for his distinguished service to the arts in his adopted home state. His Violin Concerto won the 1993 Grawemeyer Award, and On the Transmigration of Souls, commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to commemorate the first anniversary of 9/11, received the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

(John and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, honorary degree recipients, Yale University, 2014)

Adams’ work for two-pianos, Hallelujah Junction, serves at the opening music in Lucca Guadagnino’s Academy Award-nominated film “Call Me By Your Name.”

John Adams is a much sought-after conductor, appearing with the world’s major orchestras, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Chicago Symphony and the Metroplitan Opera. His programming combines his own works with a wide variety of repertoire ranging from Beethoven, Mozart and Wagner to Ives, Stravinsky, Carter, Zappa, and Ellington.

In the current season Adams returns to the Cleveland Orchestra, the Orchestra of Santa Cecilia in Rome, the Dallas Symphony and the Oslo Philharmonic as well as leading the Juilliard Orchestra and presenting the world premiere of Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 12 with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

Since 2009 Adams has held the position of Creative Chair with the Los Angeles Philharmonic where he has been instrumental in the success of that orchestra’s highly creative Green Umbrella new music series.

Through his conducting and commissioning of new works, Adams has become a significant mentor of the younger generation of American composers. The Pacific Harmony Foundation, created with his wife, the photographer Deborah O’Grady, supports commissions and performances of new works and musical education initiatives throughout the country. Adams’ educational activities reach from the local (the John Adams Young Composers program in his hometown of Berkeley, California) to the national and international (the Juilliard School, the Royal Academy of Music, the New World Symphony and the Berliner Phiharmoniker Akadamie).

John Adams is also a highly esteemed and provocative writer. He is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review and has written for The New Yorker and The London Times.  Hallelujah Junction, Adams’s much praised volume of memoirs and commentary on American musical life, won the Northern California Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and was named one of the “most notable books of the year” by The New York Times. The official John Adams website is

July 2018

March is Music in Our Schools Month!

Imagine Concert on February 7 at the Ojai Valley School featuring the Sandhi Indian Ensemble – Music Van brings instruments to Ojai Valley school students  

For almost 30 years, the Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO Program has been bringing music to the Ojai community. Through music education to Ojai Valley Public School students, engagement at senior living centers, and free concerts throughout the year, BRAVO makes music an integral, enjoyable, and exciting part of the everyday learning process at any age.

To celebrate Music in the Schools month in March, BRAVO’s Music Van has set out to demonstrate the instruments of the orchestra to elementary students. This year, 50 volunteers will visit 8 public and private schools with a selection of instruments that more than 350 fourth and fifth graders are invited to try out.

Longtime Ojai resident and 2018 Ojai Treasure Lynne Doherty has spearheaded the Music Van for more than 25 years, “The look of delight on a kid who makes a mighty racket on the trombone or coaxes a sweet note from the violin is wonderful to see,” she said. “Music instruction in the schools has suffered from years of budget cuts to the arts, and we are continuing to fill that gap.”

You can’t learn to play the violin without first holding one in your hand and awkwardly finding a note.

The Bridge program is preparing 3rd graders throughout the school district for our annual visits to The Gables of Ojai. Children and adults sing and interact together.

In February, the BRAVO program held its annual Imagine concert at Ojai Valley School. Thanks to a special grant from the Ojai Valley School-Barbara Barnard Smith Fund of the Ventura County Community Foundation, the Imagine concert presented the Sandhi Indian Ensemble in two school performances at the Greenberg Center on the OVS campus. Fourth, fifth and six graders enjoyed world music from the subcontinent of India, with a program featuring the table, Indian slide guitar, sarod, and pakhawaj. Children learned the notes of some Indian scales and how they connect to form melodies. Different and complex rhythm patterns were demonstrated and then combined with melodies. An open and free community presentation at 4pm was well received.

These programs provide a lasting legacy of enduring support for Ojai Valley School’s continued education in world music. Along with related arts, it engenders a broad perspective and appreciation of music from all world cultures. This occurs primarily through live performances of traditional music in major non-Western cultural regions. When possible and suitable, the ancestral cultural heritage of the Ojai community and its students are also focused upon. Thanks to Professor Smith, these funds annually open the doors to an engaging multicultural experience for students, teachers, parents and the community, embodying a true world view of music. Ojai Valley School is indebted to Professor Smith for her foresight and generosity.

For more information on the Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO programs visit or call 805 646 2094.

Imagine Concert: Sandhi Indian Ensemble

BRAVO Imagine Concert

February 7, 2020 at the Ojai Valley School’s Greenberg Center

Sponsored by Ojai Valley School–Barbara Barnard Smith Fund of the Ventura County Community Foundation, and the Ojai Music Festival

The Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO education program and the Ojai Valley School present the Imagine Concert featuring the Sandhi Indian Ensemble led by Dave Cipriani along with John Stephens, and Leonice Shinneman. This free concert will celebrate the appreciation of the music of Northern India and guide audiences on a journey to learn about the music and its cultural impact.

In addition to free school performances for students of the Ojai Valley Unified School District, there will be a free public concert on Friday, February 7, from 4 to 5pm, at the Ojai Valley School’s Greenberg Center (723 El Paseo Road). This free community concert is made possible by the Ojai Valley School-Barbara Barnard Smith Fund of the Ventura County Community Foundation. No reservations needed for the public performance. For more details, call 805 646 2053.


Sandhi Indian Ensemble:

Dave Cipriani, Indian Slide Guitar
John Stephens, Sarod
Leonice Shinneman, Tabla, Pakhawaj, Tavil (Indian Hand Percussion)

Sandhi Indian Ensemble is made up of 3 outstanding graduates of the California Institute of the Arts North Indian Music Program who want to share their love of this deep and exciting music. The members are busy performers, recording artists and teachers in the Ojai and LA area.

Dave Cipriani is one of the leading exponents of Indian Slide Guitar in America, having previously studied under Indian Slide guitar pioneer Pandit Barun Kumar Pal. 

Learn more about David Cipriani here.

Learn more about the featured instruments here.

Festival Internships: Become Part of the Team


Quick link for application:

“I gained a much larger appreciation for all the effort that is put into this music festival. Being behind the scenes gave the opportunity to learn hands on and actively use the learned skills to see and achieve results.” – Liz Spiller, retail intern

  “Being a part of the Ojai Music Festival Internship Program means being a part of a positive, productive and goal driven team that by any means creates an unforgettable experience for its patrons, donors, staff and interns. You gain a greater appreciation and understanding of how a successful arts organization is operations and grown from year to year.”  – Paul Seitz, live stream intern

“ I loved engaging with creators and audiences alike. The intense passion for and dedication to this small, unique festival from both sides is what makes this experience so special. This festival would also not be what it is without its beautiful setting. Ojai is the perfect birthplace for this amazing blend of history and fresh creativity. – Kathryn Carlson, box office intern

The Ojai Music Festival’s arts management internship program is now accepting applications for the 74h Ojai Music Festival slated for June 11 to 14, 2020  with composer/conductor Matthias Pintscher as music director.  Entering its thirteenth year, the Festival’s sought-after program provides hands-on experiences to college students as they are immersed in areas of production, administration, operations, special events, merchandising, live streaming, marketing, public relations, and box office.

Students from varying fields and walks of life enjoy access to different opportunities which give them new skill sets and experiences that they take with them throughout their careers. The internship program also provides them to interact with leaders in the music industry and create lasting friendships with other students. 

Applicants must be 18 or over and enrolled in a two or four year accredited college. The Festival provides housing for the duration of the internship as well as a stipend.  Applications are due by March 15, 2020.

About the 74th Ojai Music Festival

The 74th Ojai Music Festival, June 11-14, 2020, celebrates Music Director Matthias Pintscher as composer, conductor, and collaborator, and his commitment to strengthening the interactions and connections between the music of today and seminal works from across the centuries. 

Joining Mr. Pintscher will be the Paris-based Ensemble intercontemporain (EIC) in its first appearance at the Ojai Music Festival. Mr. Pintscher is Music Director of the EIC, the world’s leading contemporary music ensemble founded by seven-time Ojai Music Director Pierre Boulez. The 2020 Festival welcomes the return of the Calder Quartet and the LA Phil New Music Group, plus the Ojai debuts of mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford, tenor Andrew Staples, and singer/songwriter Della Miles.

Known as one of today’s foremost composers, Matthias Pintscher will have his works interspersed throughout the 2020 Festival, including Bereshit, Nur, and Uriel. In addition to his music directorship of the Ensemble Intercontemporain founded by Pierre Boulez, Mr. Pintscher’s connection with Boulez was a deeply personal friendship and an interwoven professional path that also included their respective roles with EIC, IRCAM, the Lucerne Festival Academy, and now the Ojai Music Festival. Boulez’s works to be performed by EIC include his sur Incises and Mèmoriale.

 The 2020 Festival also shines a light on the work of the prolific, ingenious, daring, and deeply relevant work of Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth. Three of her major works will be performed during the Festival with EIC, Calder Quartet, and singer/songwriter Della Miles including Suite from Eleanor, which received its premiere in 2015 at the Salzburg Festival. Additional featured music of Ms. Neuwirth during the Festival will include in the realms of the unreal performed by the Calder Quartet and Aello – ballet mécanomorphe with the EIC. 


Kevin Kwan Loucks, Piano

Five Subscribers, Five Questions – Lucy McKnight

Last week, Perry and Tricia La Marca gave us their feedback into the Ojai Music Festival advising all of us to “dive in and embrace the experience.”  You can read the full article HERE.

This Week, Lucy McKnight gives us her insight into her festival experience.

First, tell us a little about yourself – what do you do? Do you play an instrument? How many Festivals have you attended? 

I am a composer and singer and a senior at USC Thornton School of Music. I have attended eight Ojai Music Festivals since I was 12 years old.

How did you first hear about Ojai Music Festival?

My parents brought me because I love music and because, at that time, just my older sibling was composing. Now we both compose, and our younger brother composes and arranges jazz music. The Ojai Music Festival has been a huge part of my–and my siblings’–education and growth as listeners, performers, and composers.

How would you describe your Ojai experience?

We dive in and swim around in it. I love the early morning concerts at Besant Hill School, and the large-scale John Luther Adams pieces that involve walking around Libbey Park. I love the satisfying exhaustion of days filled to the brim with music. 

What is the most surprising thing you learned or experienced at the Festival?  

You can fall asleep two feet from Steven Schick and Claire Chase and Sarah Rothenberg! I know because I have done it while they were performing For Phillip Guston, an incredible 4.5 hour long piece by Morton Feldman. It started at 5 am and I lay down with my siblings on the blankets and pillows provided on the floor and drifted gently in and out of sleep. Asleep or awake, it was one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard.

What is your favorite Ojai hangout between concerts – places to eat, visit, see? 

Bonnie Lu’s diner on Ojai Avenue where they have chicken-fried steak for breakfast! The Ojai Meadows Preserve is a nice place to walk and listen to the birds. Renting bikes at The Mob Shop or Bicycles of Ojai and going on the bike trails down toward Ventura – I try to do that every year.

Any recommendations for a Festival first-timer?

Go to everything. Talk to the people next to you during intermission. Buy or bring a seat cushion, a broad-brimmed serious sun hat and lots of sunscreen. Settle in and open your ears.

Ensemble intercontemporain Preview Video

Under the artistic direction of Matthias Pintscher, Ensemble intercontemporain works in close collaboration with composers, exploring instrumental techniques and developing projects that interweave music, dance, theater, film, video, and visual arts. In collaboration with IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique), the Ensemble Intercontemporain is also active in the field of synthetic sound generation. New pieces are commissioned and performed on a regular basis with the support of the Fondation Meyer.

2019 Ojai Holiday Home Tour Gallery

The 23rd Ojai Holiday Home Tour & Marketplace sparked inspiration and holiday cheer thanks to the Ojai designers who shared their creative spirit with tour guests. As the holidays are getting closer, enjoy taking a look at the variety of holiday floral designs that adorned this year’s four amazing homes.

El Sombrero designers: Isabelle Dahlin of deKor and Louesa Roebuck
Foothill Farm designer: Carolyn Bennett, cdb gardens
Tuscan Ranch designer: Ojai Blooms
The Wall House: Pam and Rob Frame of Found 203 Studio 
(Photos of El Sombrero, Foothill Farm, Tuscan Ranch by Fred Rothenberg and the Wall House by Pam Frame.)

Five Subscribers, Five Questions – Meet the La Marcas

Tricia & Perry La Marca

First, tell us a little about yourself – what do you do? Do you play an instrument? How many Festivals have you attended?

Perry is a film/TVcomposer and pianist. Tricia has an undergraduate degree in Music and is a former music teacher and current businesswoman. We both attended the Festival in 2019 and 2018.

How did you first hear about Ojai Music Festival?

We learned of the Festival and its programming from friends/colleagues during their respective University years.

How would you describe your Ojai experience?

Amazing; sublime; wonderful. In addition to thoroughly enjoying the performances and lectures by world class talent as well as the opportunity to experience esoteric and rarely performed pieces, we were genuinely touched by the community and new friends made. 

What is the most surprising thing you learned or experienced at the Festival?

I think we were surprised to find such a diverse and down to earth group of Festival regulars. The Ojai family is very different than what you typically experience at classical music events.

What is your favorite Ojai hangout between concerts – places to eat, visit, see?

We love to eat at Azu and Osteria Monte Grappa. We also love to sample the vinegars and olive oils at Carolina Gramm.

Any recommendations for a Festival first-timer?

Dive in and embrace the experience.  It’s a lot to see, but you’ll regret it if you miss something. Also, do the pre-concert Suppers in the Park!  It’s a great way to meet festival newcomers and regulars.  

Join us as a subscriber for the 2020 Ojai Music Festival with Music Director Matthias Pintscher!