Fuel Your Musical Adventure

Celebrating Our Story

For the first time in our history, we’ve launched a comprehensive campaign to ensure that the Ojai experience you love can be sustained for future generations of musicians and audiences. The Festival is largely dependent on contributed income, which makes up 75% of our annual budget.   

With this campaign, we are looking to ensure the flourishing of this musical treasure for the future by commissioning new work, originating important artistic initiatives that have an impact beyond the Festival, and expanding our music education programs for students from pre-kindergarten to college. 

Look at what we have already accomplished with the campaign:

  • Re-imagined staging of Tan Dun’s Ghost Opera presented at the 2023 Ojai Festival and then produced at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park in New York in the fall of 2023
  • Commissioned Dylan Mattingly’s Sunt Lacrimae Rerum for the 2021 Festival, which was recently performed at the LA Phil’s Green Umbrella as part of the California Festival; 
  • Created a new BRAVO composition program called SCORE! for Ojai public high school students

Our generous Board of Directors have taken up the challenge with 100% participation by way of additional campaign gifts and planned giving. We invite each of you to take part in this next chapter of our story. Join us by renewing your annual donation, and consider making a special campaign donation. Every gift counts towards the goals of this Future Forward campaign.   

This is a moment to celebrate our shared story, your vital part in our legacy, and most importantly, the vibrant future to come. Join us in our next chapter and help bring our Future Forward.

A Small Expense with a Great Impact

Throughout the year, the Ojai Music Festival prioritizes community, artistic curiosity, and innovative programs, culminating with our treasured Festival in June. The Festival’s year-round programs are made possible by donations from our loyal audience members, like you!

Recurring gifts give you the freedom to give at the level and timing that works best with your budget and schedule, and simultaneously allow the Festival to rely on a consistent, year-round revenue stream. 

From Ara: Music Now and What’s Ahead

Mitsuko Uchida and Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Dear friends, 

I am writing this in the blissful quiet following Thanksgiving, a pause from the usually hectic days and a chance to reflect with gratitude. We are in a particularly troubled moment across the world, with much sorrow, animosity, and division seemingly everywhere. And yet, the enduring pleasures of life also assert themselves – the company of loved ones, a walk in the brisk autumn air, the smile of a child playing, and always, the boundless rewards of music. 

I have been heartened by multiple musical joys these past few weeks. We’ve had the pleasure of presenting a California Festival concert at the Ojai Valley School’s Greenberg Center, our first “off-season” concert of new music in Ojai, one received with great enthusiasm and cheer. We delighted in the company of four exuberant and always inventive younger composers – Reena Esmail, M.A. Tiesenga, Dylan Mattingly, and Samuel Adams.  

I then flew almost immediately to London, to spend a few days in the company of Mitsuko Uchida, our 2024 Festival Music Director. We had several rewarding visits together, putting the finishing touches together for next year. Mitsuko first came to Ojai as a guest artist at the 50th anniversary Festival in 1996. Those of us with long Festival memories will recall that as one of the hottest (literally!) festivals ever, with Mitsuko playing a hypnotically beautiful Schubert B-Flat Sonata and then capping the week with the Ravel Piano Concerto in G, with Pierre Boulez and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Mitsuko’s response to the overwhelming heat was to play the Schubert with even more beauty and greater concentration, creating an intense quiet of listening that defied the weather. It was one of those unforgettable experiences, where one sensed a collective joining together of audience and artist, living fully in every moment of the piece, where nothing else mattered. 

Mitsuko has always retained a special fondness for Ojai, and we are so fortunate to have her back. She is one of the most remarkable musicians of our time, someone who is constantly exploring and finding ever-deeper insights into everything she plays. Her lifelong passion for the Mozart piano concertos will be at the center of this year’s Festival, music that is constantly revealing new dimensions and humanity in her hands. She is joined by the musicians of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, her closest collaborators in recent years – a well-honed partnership of exuberance and discovery that continues to grow.  

Although Mitsuko is perhaps best known for her championing of Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert, she has had a close association with a number of today’s most vibrant composers in her role as an Artistic Director of the Marlboro Festival in Vermont. Each summer, she has personally invited a great musical thinker to be in residence at the celebrated chamber music festival, creating a fascinating intersection between tradition and innovation. We will happily benefit from these associations at Ojai next year with music by a number of these composers – Sofia Gubaidulina, Kaija Saariaho, Jörg Widmann, György Kurtág, and Helmut Lachenmann among them.

Mitsuko Uchida with Ara Guzelimian and Kaija Saariaho
L-R: Ara Guzelimian, Kaija Saariaho, and Mitsuko Uchida, July 2014, Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont.

The programming that is emerging from our conversations is completely true to Mitsuko Uchida – the eternal freshness of the Mozart piano concertos, new and recent music by the composers she values most, and a focus on the composers of the Second Viennese School. Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Arnold Schoenberg, a composer who is perpetually misunderstood. We will take a fresh listen to some of his most beautiful (yes, I did say beautiful!) works in the hands of musicians who believe deeply in the expressive power of this music. 

As we make the first preliminary announcement of the 2024 Festival, I hope you will take pleasure in the characteristic Ojai mix of the expected and unexpected, the new and the old, and always, the sense of discovery. In the coming months, we will have a chance to meet the artists, beginning with Mitsuko Uchida herself and do a deeper exploration of the music to be programmed.  

In closing, I want to linger again briefly in the spirit of the Thanksgiving just past by expressing my personal gratitude to each of you for your continued support of the Ojai Festival. We are fortunate to be in this music adventure together with you. 

Ara Guzelimian
Artistic and Executive Director 

2024 Festival Schedule

2024 Festival with Mitsuko Uchida artwork

Join us for a curated journey, where music is the adventure, with the characteristic Ojai mix of new and old, familiar and unfamiliar, in the company of remarkable artists who bring vitality, freshness, and a sense of discovery to all that they do. View the preliminary schedule and look for more details to come.

Greenberg Center (Ojai Valley School)

Two-part session with Music Director Mitsuko Uchida and featured artists, hosted by Ara Guzelimian and John Schaefer of WQXR New Sounds.

Libbey Bowl

Lucy Fitz Gibbon, soprano | Mitsuko Uchida, piano | Jay Campbell, cello | Brentano Quartet

A chamber music summit focusing on some of the defining works of the Second Viennese School with an all-star cast of Mitsuko Uchida, cellist Jay Campbell, soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon, and the Brentano Quartet. The evening culminates in Schoenberg’s emotionally charged Second String Quartet from 1908, one of the most transformative moments in music.

location TBD

Program to be announced.
Ojai Dawns is a Festival Donor Circle Event. Learn more here>

Libbey Bowl

Start your morning in Libbey Bowl with the intimacy of a chamber music concert with Festival artists.

Greenberg Center, Ojai Valley School

Alexi Kenney, violin

Violinist Alexi Kenney curates a highly unusual and deeply personal program of music old and new, with works ranging from rarely-heard Baroque fantasies to recent work by Salina Fisher, Angélica Negrón, Paul Wiancko, and culminating in Bach’s towering Chaconne.
This performance is an add-on, separate from a Libbey Bowl pass. Click here >

Libbey Bowl

Mitsuko Uchida, piano | Mahler Chamber Orchestra

Mitsuko Uchida basks in her close partnership with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, beginning a three-day exploration of Mozart Piano Concertos with the Piano Concerto in E-flat. K 482.

location TBD

Program to be announced. Free.

Libbey Bowl

Program to be announced.

3:30PM BEYOND THE BOWL: SHIFTING GROUND (repeat performance)
Greenberg Center, Ojai Valley School

Alexi Kenney, violin

Violinist Alexi Kenney curates a highly unusual and deeply personal program of music old and new, with works ranging from rarely-heard Baroque fantasies to recent work by Salina Fisher, Angélica Negrón, Paul Wiancko, and culminating in Bach’s towering Chaconne.
This performance is an add-on, separate from a Libbey Bowl pass. Click here >

Libbey Bowl

Mitsuko Uchida, piano | Mahler Chamber Orchestra

In the evening, be enraptured by the music by Debussy, Kaija Saariaho, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and the affecting beauty of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in B flat, K. 595 with Mitsuko Uchida and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

location TBD

Program to be announced. Free.

Libbey Bowl

Lucy Fitz Gibbon, soprano | Jay Campbell, cello | Brentano Quartet

An always enchanting Sunday morning chamber music program ranging from Haydn to Sofia Gubaidulina’s extraordinary In Croce for cello and accordion.

Greenberg Activity Center

Lucy Fitz Gibbon, soprano | Alexi Kenney, violin

In the afternoon, the extraordinary invention of György Kurtag’s setting of Kafka’s diary is illuminated by Lucy Fitz Gibbon and Alexi Kenney.
This is a Donor Circle event. Learn more here >

Libbey Bowl

Mitsuko Uchida, piano | Mahler Chamber Orchestra

The festive finale features music of Haydn, Jörg Widmann inspired by Haydn, and to bring the Festival to a resounding close, the exuberance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto in G, K. 453, once again with the inspired partnership of Mitsuko Uchida and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

Programs and artists are subject to change.

Creative Lab concert launches during the California Festival

The Ojai Music Festival was delighted to participate in the California Festival, a statewide initiative organized by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, and San Francisco Symphony. This showcase of 100-plus California organizations, which runs from November 3 to 19, closely aligned with the Ojai Festival mission and history in celebrating new and adventurous music.

Our performance was a “maiden voyage” of presenting a non-summer concert on November 11 at the Greenberg Center, Ojai Valley School in collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. With a supportive and enthusiastic audience, the program presented smaller-scale recent works by Samuel Carl Adams, Reena Esmail, Dylan Mattingly, and M.A. Tiesenga, performed by pianist Conor Hanick, clarinetist Sérgio Coelho, vibraphone player Sidney Hopson, violinist Gallia Kastner, vocalist Saili Oak, multi-instrumentalist M.A. Tiesenga, and Zelter String Quartet. These same forward-looking composers were then featured at the Green Umbrella concert, at the Walt Disney Hall, on November 14.

Take a look at some of our favorite moments from our Creative Lab concert on November 11 in Ojai. Special thanks to the Ojai Valley School.

photos by © Timothy Teague

LA Phil’s Green Umbrella: Chaparral and Interstates

photos by © Nick Rutter

That’s a Wrap!

On behalf of the Ojai Festival Women’s Committee, thank you so much for another wonderful year of this fabulous tradition! Keep your eye on your inbox for a survey from us. We’d love to hear from you. Thank you for shopping at the Holiday Marketplace! We hope this is not the last you see of the incredible vendors. Please visit the link below to connect with them on their websites and social media! 

Mark your calendar for next year: November 9 and 10, 2024

The Ojai Holiday Home Tour and Marketplace is a benefit for the Ojai Music Festival and its BRAVO Music Education & Community Programs. By supporting this treasured tradition, you ensure that the Festival continues providing free music education in Ojai public elementary schools and presenting the internationally renowned 78th Festival, June 6-9, 2024. Your support for BRAVO is deeply appreciated.

2024 Virtual Ojai Talks

Virtual Ojai Talks November 7

Get an inside look at the creative process with our free Virtual Ojai Talks, where we celebrate the intersection of music and ideas with the 2024 Festival artists, composers, innovators, and thinkers. Virtual Talks are free and open to the musically curious!

Free and Open to the Public
Virtual Ojai Talks with Ara Guzelimian
November 7, 2023, 5:30-6:30pm

It’s Ara’s turn! We’ve enjoy our past Virtual Ojai Talks where Artistic and Executive Director Ara Guzelimian interviews guest artists and composers. Now we’ve turned the tables on him…Enjoy a conversation between Ara and host Gail Eichenthal, who are long-time friends, about returning to Ojai, working with Mitsuko Uchida, and what to expect for the 2024 Festival (June 6-9).

RSVP here >

About Gail Eichenthal 
Gail Eichenthal is a veteran broadcast journalist and the chief engagement officer of Classical California.  

Gail’s ties to Ojai are deep: as a UCLA chorister, she sang with the LA Master Chorale at the Ojai Festival in the the mid-1970’s under Michael Tilson Thomas. She produced and hosted live Ojai Festival concert broadcasts on KUSC in the 1980s. And more recently, she helped inaugurate the Festival’s live webcasts. 

Gail began her association with KUSC as an intern. The internship turned into a job. Two years later, at 25, she became the first woman to host the national radio broadcasts of a major American orchestra as the “voice of the Los Angeles Philharmonic” for more than 20 years, during which she worked closely with Ara Guzeimian.  

From 1994 to 2005, Gail expanded her career into broadcast news and was an award-winning reporter and anchor at KNX, the CBS news affiliate in Los Angeles. Gail has written for the LA Times and  many other publications.  


2023 Festival Moments

Photos by Timothy Teague

Concert Photos


Offstage Moments

From Ara: Summer Reflections

Dear friends,

I hope this finds you enjoying the pleasures of summer. I have the good fortune to be at the Marlboro Music Festival as I write this, tucked away in a particularly idyllic corner of southern Vermont – which mercifully was spared the worst of the recent torrential rains elsewhere in the state.

I have had the luxury of time to reflect on the recent Festival and find myself immensely grateful for the company we keep, including each one of you who create such a unique and open-hearted community at each Festival.

The 2023 Ojai Festival is now a happy memory to be savored and cherished. We were so fortunate to be in the company of the wondrous Rhiannon Giddens and all the extraordinary artists she brought to create a particularly joyous Festival community. It is next to impossible to single out individual highlights in a Festival full of them. I will only dare mention a few — Rhiannon singing Paul Simon’s American Tune with an eloquence and a to-the-moment timeliness that brought tears to the eyes, the absolutely essential American story of Omar Ibn Said as told in Rhiannon and Michael Abels’ Omar’s Journey, the indelible musical and visual images created by Wu Man, PeiJu Chien-Pott and the Attacca Quartet in a new production of Tan Dun’s Ghost Opera, the encounter with the enormous creativity and fresh voices of the Iranian Female Composers Association, Kayhan Kalhor’s spellbinding artistry, the infectious joy of Seckou Keita, and Francesco Turrisi’s boundless musical imagination in creating the special Early Music program for a Sunday morning. OK, I’ll stop at that as my own list could go on for another 30 or more highlights. If you are so inspired, please write to me with your own list of highlights.

Here at Marlboro, I delight in the company of Mitsuko Uchida, a co-Artistic Director of the Marlboro Music Festival and our Music Director for the 2024 Ojai Festival. Mitsuko, one of the most eloquent and probing musicians of our time, is making a long awaited return next year, joined by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (who themselves are returning to Ojai since their 2018 visit with Patricia Kopatchinskaja). Her close collaboration with this immensely creative and spirited ensemble is central to her work in recent years, as they have embarked on a multi-year exploration of the Mozart piano concertos together. She explains the importance of their partnership in this video:

MCO & Mitsuko Uchida: A New Chapter

Mitsuko has long been a champion of and mentor to several generations of young musicians at the Marlboro Festival. We will have the good fortune of being joined in Ojai with some of the most gifted artists on the American musical scene — clarinetist Anthony McGill, Brentano String Quartet, soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon, and violinist Alexi Kenney — all of whom have rich Marlboro history. More about each of them in the months to come.

Prior to coming to Marlboro, I had the pleasure of serving on the jury of the Mahler Conducting Competition in Bamberg, Germany. Marina Mahler, the granddaughter of Gustav Mahler, graced the proceedings as patron of the competition. When I first met Marina some years ago, I started a painstaking description of where and what Ojai is — she interrupted me to tell me that she had attended Ojai Valley School during her most formative years! So, there you have it — a direct link between the legacy of Gustav Mahler and Ojai! We became fast friends with this knowledge of our Ojai ties. I also had the deep pleasure of serving on the jury alongside Barbara Hannigan (2019 Music Director), who continues to light up the musical world wherever she goes. While there, I discovered that Barbara had assembled a very personal playlist for Apple Music, which characteristically documents her wide-ranging imagination and generosity of spirit. She has curated a list of performances by favorite musicians who, in her words, “allow audiences into a ‘heart-to-heart’ connection with whatever music they perform.” In a lovely confluence of Ojai artists, her list includes Rhiannon Giddens!

Finally, a reflection of loss. Kaija Saariaho, who died at the age of 70 in early June, made an indelible impression with her music and her presence at the 2016 Ojai Festival with Peter Sellars. Kaija was a singular creative force in our musical world, writing with a voice that was intensely personal and affecting, a sound world unlike any other composer. She was also a cherished friend to so many of the Festival musicians over the years. We can only be grateful for having her and her music in our lives. To bid farewell, here are the final three movements of her choral work Nuits, Adieux (1991) in a recording released just this month:

Nuits, adieux (Version for 4 Voices) : VIII. Adieu III – IX. Adieu IV – X. Adieu V

We are most fortunate in the company we keep.
With thanks and warm greetings,

Ara Guzelimian
Artistic and Executive Director

BRAVO Summer Camps

Campers and instructors smiling for group photo all wearing matching tie-dye Bravo t-shirts

Sign your child up for a week of music, art, games, and storytelling with Ms. Laura. There is no previous musical experience required. BRAVO Music and Arts Camp is a productive way to expose your child to music for the first time or to develop an existing passion for music over the Summer. Session one has come to a close with 31 students, but it’s not too late to sign up for the second session!

Special thanks to our partners Ojai Parks and Recreation Department and BRAVO volunteers.

When: August 14-18, 8am-11am
Ages: 5-15
Fees: $125 + $25 materials fee; scholarships are available, all are welcome!

Register through the Ojai Rec Department or call 805 646 5581 ext. 390. For more questions, email Laura Walter here.

Campers showing off an arts and crafts project, paper flowers

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Meet our 2023 Interns

We are excited to share our stellar team of interns with you. These students represent the next generation of musicians and arts administrators. The Festival depends on them for critical support in a variety of management areas including production, stage management, front of house, operations, box office, marketing, and more. Our impressive roster of interns is ready to bring their passion and experience to the Ojai Music Festival team and make the 77th Ojai Music Festival a year to remember.

Hitesh Benny
Hitesh Benny is a student transferring to the University of California, San Diego to study Music and Economics. He is the Front of House Intern at this year’s Festival. Over the past two years, Hitesh has attained associate degrees in Music and Economics from Moorpark College. He has been a part of various ensembles including the Moorpark College Concert Choir, Symphony Orchestra, and the Come Together Ensemble. In the choir, he served as a student conductor, leading them in their Fall and Winter concerts. In the Symphony Orchestra, he also served as the percussion section leader and had transcriptions performed and recorded by the ensemble. Through the Come Together Ensemble, he premiered his compositions. Hitesh was fortunate to have been mentored by Richard Danielpour, the head of composition at UCLA. Hitesh has a steadfast dedication to helping small businesses in his community. Through these experiences, he earned various entrepreneurial and managerial lessons. He also remains committed to the musical community by serving as a volunteer at the Hear Now Festival, the Music Academy of the West Summer Festival, and the Ojai Music Festival.

Elizabeth (Liz) Callahan is a violinist who grew up in Ventura, California and began playing violin at the age of 10 at a children’s string ensemble at her church. Elizabeth has played violin in numerous ensembles including the Ojai Youth Symphony, Ventura High School Honors String Orchestra, and the Westmont College Orchestra. She thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to perform during the orchestra tour to Austria and Prague as Principal violinist and as a selected soloist. Elizabeth is so grateful to have studied classical violin with fantastic faculty members including Dr. Han Soo Kim and Professor Isaac Kay, and traditional Irish violin technique with Grammy- and Emmy- nominated Celtic violinist, Máiréad Nesbitt. Elizabeth has participated in Westmont College Choir and she has had the opportunity to be an Assistant Conductor for the College Choir and the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony while studying conducting with Dr. Daniel Gee. She has been actively involved in music education in Santa Barbara while being Personnel Manager for the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony. Elizabeth will graduate from Westmont College in May 2023 with a Bachelor of Music Education and will continue to pursue a career in music education.

Eliana Choi is a recent 2023 Westmont College graduate who majored in psychology and minored in kinesiology and music. She utilized her minor in music to become on of the box office interns again at the Ojai Music Festival. Eliana is back in the Ojai intern family because she had a fabulous time with the staff, performers, volunteers, and interns last year (#RunningAMOC2022). Eliana specifically cherished working on Festival mobile app and updating the Festival website while at the box office. In her free time, Eliana enjoys playing video games, working out, and practicing her acoustic guitar and violin. She will pursue a doctoral degree in occupational therapy at Keck Graduate Institute in late August. Eliana is open to answering any questions and hopes that everyone will enjoy their time at the Festival!

Mia Condon has worked as a Stage Manager for the past four years. Throughout her experience, she has sought out positions that allow her to experience new genres of live entertainment and learn new strategies which she can utilize in future endeavors. She has a background in vocal and instrumental music in multiple genres and has a deep love for music, especially that which has a connection to things greater than and deeper than the individuals creating it. She Is incredibly excited to have the opportunity to experience Ojai for the first time and looks forward to engaging with everyone involved! Currently, Mia attends CalArts in Santa Clarita, CA.

William Jae is a composer and pianist raised in Los Angeles, California. William’s music can be described as both chaotic and sublime. His openness to learn new kinds of music allowed him to push the limits of what he can do with his own music. Between 2019 to 2020, he was a fellow at the Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program, where he studied with renowned composers such as Andrew Norman, Sarah Gibson, and Thomas Kotcheff. It was during this time that he first experienced the world of contemporary classical music. In 2019, his string trio composition, “Alabaster Wool”, premiered at the Walt Disney Concert Hall and was performed by members of the Lyris Quartet. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, he received the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artists Award and made an appearance at Blanket Fort 2 hosted by Peter Dugan at From The Top. He was also the semi-finalist in the 2020 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Award that same year. William is currently a junior at the Eastman School of Music pursuing a dual degree in music composition and psychology at the University of Rochester. Outside of the classroom, he is the artistic director of the Eastman Chamber Orchestra. During his free time, William enjoys spending time with his friends and colleagues as well as exploring various film and video game genres.

Sophie Little is currently pursuing a BA in Theater Technology and a minor in Music Technology at Chapman University, strongly focusing on sound engineering and theater design. Furthering this passion, she hopes to apply her knowledge and love for music by designing and assisting with sound for music festivals and concerts in the future. In the past, Sophie has been involved in countless productions throughout high school and college, most notably being her involvement with various music festivals in her home state of Michigan. Most recently, Sophie worked as the Sound Engineer and Designer for Chapman’s student-run production of  It Shoulda Been You by Brian Hargrove. Sophie is very excited to join the Ojai Music Festival team as a sound intern and continue growing her love and knowledge of sound.

Niav Maher is a virtuosic soloist spanning several musical genres, combining personal sensitivity with insightful interpretation. She has been the recipient of many scholarships throughout her career at the Longy School of Music, New England Conservatory Prep, and Manhattan School of Music. Niav received the Michael B. Packer Scholarship of Excellence in Piano Studies at the Longy School of Music. From 2012-2019, Niav studied with Jonathan Bass at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. In 2016, Niav was the first-prize winner of the NEC Preparatory Concerto Competition playing the Mendelssohn Concerto No.1 and went on to perform in Jordan Hall with the NEC YSO. She has participated on scholarship in NEC Prep tours through Germany, Italy, and Norway as a soloist, and orchestra member. In 2019, Niav received the Seth Kimmelman Scholarship given to a NEC Prep student who combines a commitment to the piano with intellectual curiosity. She then received the Piano Department award upon graduation.

Most recently, Niav was a winner of the Lillian Fuchs Chamber Music Competition at Manhattan School of Music. Niav holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Classical Piano Performance from Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Daniel Epstein on the Glen K. Twiford Piano Department Scholarship. At the recommendation of the faculty, the Provost of MSM selected Niav as the recipient of the Helen Cohn Award, which is given upon graduation to a pianist in recognition of outstanding work in chamber music. Niav will begin her Master of Music Degree this fall, studying with Daniel Shapiro at the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Meet Diego Martinez, a talented musician, and audio engineer based in Chula Vista, California. Currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in music technology, Diego is dedicated to building a career in music composition and audio engineering. His coursework has given him a deep understanding of the technical aspects of music production, from recording and mixing to mastering and post-production. He is eager to apply his knowledge to real-world scenarios and is excited to learn from experienced professionals in the industry. As an accomplished artist, Diego has released several singles, collaborations, and three albums under his stage name, P-Wave. His hard work has paid off, as two of his albums have even received physical cassette releases – one independently, and the most recent under the popular indie music label, Stratford Ct.

Diego’s dedication to mastering his craft is evident in his constant pursuit of knowledge. He is always on the lookout for opportunities to learn and grow, attending conferences and workshops and seeking out mentorship from industry experts. In addition to his musical talents, Diego has honed his communication and networking skills, which have proven invaluable in his career. With his exceptional talent, dedication, and drive, Diego is sure to make significant contributions to any organization he is a part of, including the Ojai Music Festival sound department.

Mariah Divianne Musni is an undergraduate student pursuing Interdisciplinary Computing for the Arts and Music (ICAM) at the University of California, San Diego. Moving from the Philippines to the United States at 16, she sought new opportunities and personal growth. At UCSD, she  combines her love for technology and artistic expression. This program allows Mariah to explore the convergence of computation, art, and music, pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation. Through immersive coursework, she develops technical skills while nurturing her artistic sensibilities to create transformative experiences. As a novice audio intern at KSDT, the campus radio station, Mariah gained valuable hands-on experience in setting up audio equipment for live events, ensuring seamless sound quality.

Mariah’s passion for the arts originated in the Philippines, where she actively participated in dance and choir competitions. These experiences honed her creativity, discipline, and admiration for the performing arts.With a diverse background, unwavering determination, and a passion for innovation, Mariah aims to make a profound impact in ICAM, Speculative Design, and beyond. Mariah is committed to shaping the future of interdisciplinary creativity, pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

As a Junior at the University of California Los Angeles, Dani Nollenberger is currently pursuing a major in Music History and Industry Studies. Passionate about music, Dani has a deep interest in both performing and writing music. In addition to their musical pursuits, Dani is also dedicated to bringing excellent live music experiences to others and sharing the joy of music with those around them. With an unwavering commitment to the world of music, Dani has refined her skills and is working towards a career in the music industry. Dani plans to apply her knowledge and passion to make a meaningful impact in the world of music and her community.

Margaret Rodenburg is a flutist and 2023 Bachelor of Music major graduating with Highest Honors from the University of California, Santa Barbara where she studied Flute Performance with Jill Felber. A native of Seattle WA, Margaret began playing flute at age 9, and has since found immense joy in the musical ensembles and communities throughout her life, including the Seattle Rock Orchestra, Seattle All-City Marching Band, Seattle Collaborative Orchestra, UCSB Wind Ensemble, UCSB Flute Choir, and UCSB Chamber program. While her musical journey began as an instrumentalist, Margaret has both volunteered in and taught private flute lessons to beginners in the greater Seattle and Santa Barbara areas and has worked in a variety of administrative positions in the UCSB Music Department. Throughout her time in undergrad, Margaret has recognized that her passion for playing music will continue to be bolstered by community ensembles and individual experimentation and that her desire for a long-term role in the live music industry is actually one backstage—she hopes to soon enter the industry in a managerial, administrative or organizational capacity.

Baritone and Arts Administration leader, Kevin Spooner, is pursuing a Master of Music in Vocal Performance at the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Kevin received his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from the Eastman School of Music and has performed a diverse breadth of roles in the operatic repertoire ranging from Mozart to Sondheim. During his time at Eastman, Kevin worked as an Admissions Ambassador, where he was responsible for guiding musicians and their families during their visit to ensure a comfortable and rewarding time at Eastman.

Passionate about non-profit organizations and presenting recitals, in 2018 Kevin organized and produced a recital featuring local musicians and himself to raise money for The Great Swamp Conservancy in Canastota, NY. Kevin is also performing a recital entitled Songs and Arias of Love the week before the Ojai Music Festival in his hometown of Oneida, NY.

During the 2022/2023 season, Kevin made his professional debut as Marchese D’Obigny in Verdi’s La Traviata with Piedmont Opera. Kevin also performed the role of Rodomonte in Joseph Haydn’s Orlando Paladino with the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute in February. Last summer, Kevin performed the role of Schaunard in Puccini’s La Bohème with Opera Steamboat and performed the role of Paul’s Father in Gregory Spears’ Paul’s Case with the Ad Astra Music Festival. Outside of the arts, Kevin enjoys running, tennis, golf, and reading Stephen King novels.

As a pianist, producer, and composer, Mateo Thacher is pursuing a dual degree in Economics and Music at Claremont McKenna College. Throughout college and high school, he has engaged in a number of musical interests including music production and live performances. A member of the Pomona College Choir, Mateo is working on an arrangement for his second original fashion show soundtrack. In the winter of 2018, he began making music with his hometown friend here in Ojai, California and continues to publish music under the name Krandank, which is accessible on all streaming platforms.

Aside from his creative endeavors, Mateo manages a team of student research analysts at the Roberts Environmental Center. We focus on consulting and providing research analytics for clients across all fields of sustainability and environmental education. He hopes to continue his interest in music, economics, and the environment in his career, seeking a life that blends his many passions. In his spare time, Mateo loves to surf, climb, work out, skate, and get together with friends and family.

Landon Wilson is a pianist and arts administrator based in New York City. He is the Artistic Associate of AMOC* (American Modern Opera Company) and studies at Manhattan School of Music as an undergraduate President’s Award recipient. Landon’s interests in creating interdisciplinary and socially-confrontational work have led him to develop THE RASA PROJECT, an artificially intelligent, generative piece responding to the climate crisis through music by John Cage, Reena Esmail, and inti figgis-vizueta. Uniting a creative team of musicians, software engineers, neuroscientists, and visual artists from Manhattan School of Music, Columbia University, Royal College of Art (London), and Tsinghua University (Beijing), THE RASA PROJECT will premiere in October 2023 at National Sawdust as part of their 2023-24 Emerging Artists Series.

With AMOC*, Landon has worked with venues such as The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, The 92nd Street Y, The Clark Art Institute, Tina Kim Gallery, and Baryshnikov Arts Center. In the 2022-23 season, he produced an ‘Up Close’ collaboration between AMOC* and Ensemble Connect at Carnegie Hall featuring the quiescent, evocative work of the Wandelweiser Collective.

Residing at International House New York, Landon received the Thea Petscheck Iervolino Foundation Award and is developing a lecture panel with Peter Sellars about finding hope for the future in a post-pandemic world. He returns to the Ojai Festival as the 2023 Steven Rothenberg Production Fellow after interning in Public Relations and Marketing last summer.



2023 Live Stream Replays

Seven of the 2023 concerts are available at no cost via live streaming… [continue reading]

Podcast Series: OJAICast 2023


Welcome to OJAICAST, where we pull back the curtain to take a sneak-peek at the upcoming Ojai Music Festival, June 8 to 11, in beautiful Ojai Valley, California. All are welcome here, from newcomers to long-time music fans. In-depth insights and special guests will help introduce this year’s programming and whet your musical appetites for what’s to come with host Emily Praetorius.

Episode 1

Our first episode gives an in-depth look into the 77th Ojai Music Festival (June 8 – 11, 2023), curated by Music Director Rhiannon Giddens. Special guest Artistic and Executive Director Ara Guzelimian will give us some insights into the creation of this year’s festival programming and background on some of pieces being played.

Ojai Virtual Talks, Rhiannon Giddens
Uncovering the History of the Banjo with Rhiannon Giddens

Emily Praetorius, host and producer
Louis Ng, recording engineer

OJAICast theme by Thomas Kotcheff and Louis Weeks

Music Excerpts in this Episode:
I’m on My Way – Rhiannon Giddens 
Performed by Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi

Liquid Borders – Gabriela Ortiz
Performed by red fish blue fish

Clock Catcher – Flying Lotus
Performed by Attacca Quartet

Ghost Opera – Tan Dun
Performed by Kronos Quartet

Episode 2

Our second episode takes a look at the idea of composing across boundaries with 2023 Festival composers Niloufar Nourbakhsh and Carlos Simon.

Shawn Okpebholo
Ojai Virtual Talks: Lei Liang and Steve Schick
Niloufar Nourbakhsh and IFCA
Carlos Simon, Requiem for the Enslaved
Bill Traylor 

Emily Praetorius, host and producer
Louis Ng, recording engineer

OJAICast theme by Thomas Kotcheff and Louis Weeks

Music Excerpts in this Episode:
mi sueño: afro-flamenco – Shawn Okpebholo
Performed by Clare Longendyke

The Willows are New – Chou Wen-Chung
Performed by Gloria Cheng

Veiled – Niloufar Nourbakhsh
Performed by Amanda Gookin

Between Worlds – Carlos Simon
Performed by Julia Mirzoev

Episode 3

Our final episode welcomes kamancheh player Niloufar Shiri, pipa player Wu Man, and multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi to the podcast, where they discuss the history of their instruments, how they are played in contemporary music today, and what we can look forward to in this year’s Festival programming.

Niloufar Shiri Performs at Ojai Meadows Preserve
Niloufar Shiri
Pop Up Pipa with Wu Man
Francesco Turrisi: Playlist & Ojai Talk
Francesco Turrisi
Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi Met Museum Concert

Emily Praetorius, host and producer
Louis Ng, recording engineer

OJAICast theme by Thomas Kotcheff and Louis Weeks

Music Excerpts in this Episode:
Niloufar Shiri Improvisation
Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi Met Museum Concert

Also available on SPOTIFY and APPLE PODCASTS

Emily Praetorius, former Ojai Music Festival intern and Rothenberg Intern Fellow, is a current Composition DMA candidate at Columbia University. She previously studied composition and clarinet performance at the University of Redlands (BM) and composition at Manhattan School of Music (MM). She has studied with Kathryn Nevin (clarinet), Susan Botti, Georg Friedrich Haas, George Lewis, and Anthony Suter. Emily is from Ojai, CA and lives in New York City where she is a proud co-owner of Kuro Kirin Espresso & Coffee.

Get a Head Start: 2023 Festival Preview

Wednesday, May 31 2023
Bart’s Books


Start your musical exploration before the 2023 Ojai Music Festival, slated for June 8-11, featuring Music Director Rhiannon Giddens!

Join us for a 2023 Festival Preview featuring Artistic and Executive Director Ara Guzelimian who will share program and artist insights for an inside look!

Special thanks to our friends at Bart’s Books for co-hosting this free community offering.

Box Ofice:
Open 10 am – 5 pm, Monday – Friday
[email protected]
805 646 2053

Neutra, Kornfeld, and The Zelter String Quartet

This past Sunday The Zelter String Quartet joined us for music and conversation about the Emigré Legacy in Los Angeles at a beautiful Richard Neutra home in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles.

The Zelter String Quartet performed a special musical performance celebrating the legacy of Neutra’s contemporaries among the emgiré composers who settled in Los Angeles.

Thank you very much to our donors who are able to make events like this possible. The Ojai Music Festival relies on the charitable contributions of our family of patrons, and events like this are a beautiful reminder of how our community comes together to support the music we love.

Thank you very much to our hosts and the guests – both new and familiar for spending a glorious afternoon with us. We were happy to gather before the upcoming 2023 Festival, June 8 to 11, 2023.

For more reading on the Emigré legacy in L.A., check out Alex Ross’ article, Richard Neutra’s Architectural Vanishing Act.

A magical afternoon with Shelley Burgon and Theodosia Roussos

As Ojai begins the blooms in the start of spring, Ojai Music Festival and the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy came together for an enchanted afternoon to hear Theodosia Roussos, acclaimed soprano and english horn/oboe player, and Shelley Burgon – harpist, composer, and, sound artist. 

To celebrate our closest friends and supporters, we shared signature OVLC palomas on the rocks with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice from the garden, and views of the snow capped Topas before settling in to hear Theodosia and Shelley perform (with a surprise new work debut from Shelley!) 

Thank you to our Festival Family and to the OVLC for celebrating music in Ojai, see you in June!

Photos from the Ventura River with OVLC!


In celebration of the incredible spring Ojai weather and our OjaiNEXT Festival attendees, we teamed up with the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy to host our second iteration of the Hike and Hear with Theodosia Roussos, acclaimed Soprano and English Horn/Oboe player. 

After an educational jaunt along the Ventura River with OVLC guides, guests settled into Theodosia’s  interactive performance where audience members became the accompaniment to her dynamic outdoor performance. 

To learn more about events such as these, sign up for updates for our OjaiNEXT audience members, specifically for our younger Festival enjoyers who are eligible to participate fully in all the Festival activities with special discounts, private events, and community building opportunities!



Sunday Afternoon with Alexi Kenney

Recently, we celebrated our longtime Ojai Music Festival attendees with a beautiful performance by violinist Alexi Kenney at a scenic Ojai home.

This event launched the first of many public Future Forward Campaign events, which intend to nurture and grow our relationships with our dedicated Festival attendees as well as new faces at the Festival. The Future Forward campaign aims to secure the long-term existence of the Ojai Music Festival by bolstering the Festival’s endowment and increasing capacity for new creative projects.

As Artistic and Executive Director Ara Guzelimian expressed, “our shared experiences together have not only shaped the Festival, but our Festival community which is the at the center of everything we do. This special event with Alexi was a moment to honor the Festival’s community and celebrate our shared legacy. You are a part of our story!”

The Future Forward Campaign is built to ensure that the Ojai Music Festival will be the best it can be for the next 75 years and counting. Click here to learn more about the campaign initiatives. 




Francesco Turrisi: What’s On My Playlist

Francesco Turrisi

Grammy award winning multi-instrumentalist and 2023 Festival artist Francesco Turrisi has been defined a “musical alchemist” and a “musical polyglot” by the press. Enjoy this wide-ranging music playlist curated by Francesco especially made for the Ojai Music Festival!

PLUS, watch the conversation with Francesco and Festival Artistic Director Ara Guzelimian during our Virtual Ojai Talks in December. Click here >

Preview Francesco Turrisi’s playlist here, and log into Spotify or Apple Music to hear the full songs




Click HERE to listen on Apple Music


1. Slide Dance
by Tamer Pinarbasi, Ismail Lumanovski, Ara Dinkjian


2. Per ogni sorte di strumenti musicale, Op. 22: Passacaglio
composed by Biagio Marini, performed by Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XXI


3. Yo Vivo Enamorado
by Pedrito Martinez


4. Eliasong
by Christian Wallumrød Ensemble


5. Pucciniana
by Guinga


6. Lament for Linus
by Brad Mehldau


7. Sonata Da Chiesa No. 1 in D Major, Op. 5: I. Grave – Adagio – Grave – Allegro – Adagio
composed by Arcangelo Corelli, performed by Accademia Bizantina, Ottavio Dantone, and Stefano Montanari


8. Como al Pie del Suplicio Estuve
by Efrén López


9. La Tarantella dell’Avena
by Zahr


10. Sareri Hovin Mernem
by Lena Chamamyan

BONUS track. Here’s an added piece of music requested by Ojai listeners! Spotify – Passacaglia – song and lyrics by Francesco Turrisi

ENJOY Francesco’s Mom’s delicious “lean” lasagna recipe! Click here >

2023 Virtual Ojai Talks

 Get an inside look at the creative process with our free Virtual Ojai Talks, where we celebrate the intersection of music and ideas with the 2023 Festival artists, composers, innovators, and thinkers. Virtual Talks are free and open to the musically curious!

Free and Open to the Public
Virtual Ojai Talks with Michael Abels
May 3, 2023, 5:30-6:30pm

Enjoy a conversation between Ara Guzelimian and featured Festival composer Michael Abels as they talk about creating the world premiere of Omar’s Journey, an Ojai-commissioned work for voices and chamber ensemble drawn from the opera Omar by Rhiannon Giddens and Michael Abels, and his continuing work as both a film and concert composer.

RSVP here >

Watch Virtual Ojai Talks with Steven Schick and Lei Liang

Ara Guzelimian and percussionist/conductor Steven Schick are joined by composer Lei Liang, whose works are featured at this year’s 77th Ojai Music Festival – including vis-à-vis, written specifically for Steven Schick and Wu Man. In addition. they consider the legacy of Chou Wen-chung, the composer and legendary mentor to both, whose centennial is celebrated this year.

About Steven Schick, conductor and percussionist

Percussionist, conductor, and author Steven Schick was born in Iowa and raised in a farming family. Hailed by Alex Ross in the New Yorker as, “one of our supreme living virtuosos, not just of percussion but of any instrument,” he has championed contemporary percussion music by commissioning or premiering more than one hundred-fifty new works. The most important of these have become core repertory for solo percussion. Schick was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 2014.

Steven Schick is artistic director of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. As a conductor, he has appeared with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony, Ensemble Modern, the International Contemporary Ensemble, and the Asko/Schönberg Ensemble.

Schick’s publications include a book, “The Percussionist’s Art: Same Bed, Different Dreams,” and many articles. He has released numerous recordings including the 2010 “Percussion Works of Iannis Xenakis,” and its companion, “The Complete Early Percussion Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen” in 2014 (both on Mode). He received the “Diapason d’Or” as conductor (Xenakis Ensemble Music with ICE) and the Deutscheschallplattenkritikpreis, as percussionist (Stockhausen), each for the best new music release of 2015.

Steven Schick is Distinguished Professor of Music and holds the Reed Family Presidential Chair at the University of California, San Diego. He was music director of the 2015 Ojai Festival, and starting in 2017, will be co-artistic director, with Claire Chase, of the Summer Music Program at the Banff Centre.

About Lei Liang, composer 

Chinese-born American composer Lei Liang is the winner of the Rome Prize, the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Koussevitzky Foundation Commission, a Creative Capital Award, and the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His concerto for saxophone and orchestra, Xiaoxiang, was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 2015. His orchestral work, A Thousand Mountains, A Million Streams, won the prestigious 2021 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition.

Lei Liang was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert for the inaugural concert of the CONTACT! new music series. His ten portrait discs are released on Naxos, New World, Mode, BMOP/sound, Encounter, Albany and Bridge Records. As a scholar and conservationist of cultural traditions, he has edited and co-edited five books and editions, and published more than forty articles.

From 2013-2016, Lei Liang served as Composer-in-Residence at the Qualcomm Institute/Calit2 where his multimedia works preserve and reimagine cultural heritage through combining scientific research and advanced technology. He returned to the Institute as its first Research Artist-in-Residence in 2018.

Lei Liang’s recent works address issues of sex trafficking across the US-Mexican border (Cuatro Corridos), America’s complex relationship with gun and violence (Inheritance), and environmental awareness through the sonification of coral reefs.

Lei Liang is Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of California, San Diego where he served as chair of the composition area, acting chair of the Music Department, as well as chair of campus-wide committee on committees. His catalogue of more than a hundred works is published exclusively by Schott Music Corporation (New York).

Watch Virtual Ojai Talks with Wu Man

Artistic and Executive Director Ara Guzelimian was joined by Wu Man to talk about her career as the world’s premier pipa virtuoso and a leading ambassador of Chinese music. She has carved out a distinguished career as a soloist, educator, and composer giving her instrument—which has a history of over 2,000 years in China—a new role in both traditional and contemporary music.

About Wu Man, pipa player and 2023 Festival artist 

Recognized as the world’s premier pipa virtuoso and leading ambassador of Chinese music, Wu Man has carved out a career as a soloist, educator, and composer giving her lute-like instrument—which has a history of over 2,000 years in China—a new role in both traditional and contemporary music. Through numerous concert tours she has premiered hundreds of new works for the pipa, while spearheading multimedia projects to both preserve and create awareness of China’s ancient musical traditions. Her adventurous spirit and virtuosity have led to collaborations across artistic disciplines, allowing her to reach wider audiences as she works to cross cultural and musical borders. Her efforts were recognized when she was named Musical America’s 2013 “Instrumentalist of the Year,” marking the first time this prestigious award has been bestowed on a player of a non-Western instrument, and in 2021 when she received an honorary Doctorate of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music.

Having been brought up in the Pudong School of pipa playing, one of the most prestigious classical styles of Imperial China, Ms. Wu is now recognized as an outstanding exponent of the traditional repertoire as well as a leading interpreter of contemporary pipa music by today’s most prominent composers such as Tan Dun, Philip Glass, the late Lou Harrison, Terry Riley, Bright Sheng, Chen Yi, and many others. She was the recipient of The Bunting Fellowship at Harvard University in 1998, and was the first Chinese traditional musician to receive The United States Artist Fellowship in 2008. She is also the first artist from China to perform at the White House. Wu Man is a Visiting Professor at her alma mater the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and a Distinguished Professor at the Zhejiang and the Xi’an Conservatories. She has also served as Artistic Director of the Xi’an Silk Road Music Festival at the Xi’an Conservatory. Read Wu Man full bio here

Watch Virtual Ojai Talks with Francesco Turrisi

About Francesco Turrisi, multi-instrumentalist, composer, and 2023 Festival artist

Grammy award winning multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi has been defined a “musical alchemist” and a “musical polyglot” by the press. He left his native Italy in 1997 to study jazz piano and early music at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, where he obtained a Bachelor and a Master’s degree. Since 2004 he has been working successfully as a freelance musician.

He has released five critically acclaimed albums as a leader and two as co-leader (“Tarab” a cross boundary innovative ensemble that blends Irish and Mediterranean traditional music, and “Zahr” a project that looks at connections between southern Italian traditional music and Arabic music).His latest piano solo album “Northern Migrations” was described as “delicate, wistful and wholly engrossing” by the Irish Times. Francesco is also a member of the celebrated early music ensemble L’Arpeggiata. With l’Arpeggiata he has performed at the most important classical music festivals in Europe and around the world (Turkey, Russia, China, Australia, New Zealand, Brasil, Colombia) and has recorded for Warner, Virgin, Naive and Alpha.

Since 2018 he collaborates with American grammy award winning singer and multi-instrumentalist Rhiannon Giddens, on a duo project that seamlessly combines music from the Mediterranean with music from the African diaspora in the Americas. In 2019 Giddens and Turrisi released their critically acclaimed duo album “there is no Other”. The album single “I’m on my way” was nominated for a 2020 Grammy Award. Their 2021 second duo album “They’re calling me home” was nominated for two Grammy awards and won as best folk album at the 2022 Grammy awards. Francesco currently performs on piano, accordion, harpsichord, organ, various lutes, cello banjo, frame and goblet drums.

He is equally at home playing with jazz veterans Dave Liebman and Gianluigi Trovesi as he is with Irish traditional sean-nós singer Roisin El Safty and with tarantella specialist Lucilla Galeazzi. Turrisi has toured with Bobby McFerrin, interpreted the music of Steve Reich with Bang on a Can All Stars, accompanied flamenco star Pepe El Habichuela and Greek singer Savina Yannatou.

Watch Virtual Ojai Talks with Rhiannon Giddens

About Rhiannon Giddens

The acclaimed musician Rhiannon Giddens uses her art to excavate the past and reveal bold truths about our present. A MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient, Giddens co-founded the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops. She most recently won a Grammy Award for Best Folk Album for They’re Calling Me Home, and was also nominated for Best American Roots Song for “Avalon” from They’re Calling Me Home, which she made with multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi. Giddens is now a two-time winner and eight-time Grammy nominee for her work as a soloist and collaborator.

They’re Calling Me Home was released by Nonesuch last April and has been widely celebrated by the NY Times, NPR Music, NPR, Rolling Stone, People, Associated Press and far beyond, with No Depression deeming it “a near perfect album…her finest work to date.” Recorded over six days in the early phase of the pandemic in a small studio outside of Dublin, Ireland – where both Giddens and Turrisi live – They’re Calling Me Home manages to effortlessly blend the music of their native and adoptive countries: America, Italy, and Ireland. The album speaks of the longing for the comfort of home as well as the metaphorical “call home” of death.

Giddens’s lifelong mission is to lift people whose contributions to American musical history have previously been erased, and to work toward a more accurate understanding of the country’s musical origins. Pitchfork has said of her work, “few artists are so fearless and so ravenous in their exploration,” and Smithsonian Magazine calls her “an electrifying artist who brings alive the memories of forgotten predecessors, white and black.”

Among her many diverse career highlights, Giddens has performed for the Obamas at the White House and received an inaugural Legacy of Americana Award from Nashville’s National Museum of African American History in partnership with the Americana Music Association. Her critical acclaim includes in-depth profiles by CBS Sunday Morning, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and NPR’s Fresh Air, among many others.

Giddens was featured in Ken Burns’s Country Music series, which aired on PBS, where she spoke about the African American origins of country music. She is also a member of the band Our Native Daughters with three other black female banjo players, Leyla McCalla, Allison Russell, and Amythyst Kiah, and co-produced their debut album Songs of Our Native Daughters (2019), which tells stories of historic black womanhood and survival.

Giddens is in the midst of a tremendous 2022. She announced the publication of her first book, Build a House (October 2022),  Lucy Negro Redux, the ballet Giddens wrote the music for, had its premiere at the Nashville Ballet (premiered in 2019 and toured in 2022), and the libretto and music for Giddens’ original opera, Omar, in collaboration with Michael Abels, based on the autobiography of the enslaved man Omar ibn Said, premiered at the Spoleto USA Festival in May. Giddens is also curating a four-concert Perspectives series as part of Carnegie Hall’s 2022–2023 season. Named Artistic Director of Silkroad Ensemble in 2020, Giddens is developing a number of new programs for that ensemble, including one inspired by the history of the American transcontinental railroad and the cultures and music of its builders.

She made her Ojai debut for the celebratory 75th Ojai Music Festival with Music Director John Adams in September 2021.

As an actor, Giddens had a featured role on the television series Nashville.

Rhiannon Giddens photo by Ebru Yildiz

New Sounds: Ojai On The Air

We are delighted to announce a renewed partnership with WQXR Radio and its remarkable New Sounds program, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary with John Schaefer, one of the most adventurous guides to creative and innovative music anywhere.

This week-long series of programs will connect audiences with the many facets of the Festival’s 2022 collaboration with the discipline colliding collective AMOC*, Ojai’s 2022 Music Director.  Imagined as a vehicle to connect audiences and artists who engage deeply with the world’s most adventurous, new music, WQXR/New Sounds Presents: Ojai On The Air looks toward ongoing programming leading up to and during the 2023 Festival with Music Director Rhiannon Giddens.

Check out the episodes below along with featured clips:

Davóne Tines and New Sounds host John Schaefer discuss Julius Eastman’s work, Tines’ connection to Eastman’s lineage, and how the program Tines and AMOC* prepared honors Eastman as a complete human, exploring the breadth and depth of his life and influence.

Listen to members of AMOC* performing Little Jimmy by violinist and composer Andrew McIntosh (of new music band Wild Up), and songs of drummer/composer Tyshawn Sorey and American composer Margaret Bonds, performed by bass-baritone Davóne Tines.

AMOC* member and pianist Conor Hanick plays and discusses The Book of Sounds by the late German pianist, composer, and broadcaster, Hans Otte.

Listen to a program of J.S. Bach which upends expectations, as arranged by AMOC* member, flutist and composer Emi Ferguson and the period instrument band Ruckus. Plus, from the 2022 Festival Finale, a performance of Julius Eastman’s work of resistance as an act of joy, Stay On It.

BRAVO 2022 Wrap-Up

BRAVO summer music camp

The Ojai Music Festival BRAVO program, directed by BRAVO coordinator Laura Walter, provides music education opportunities to students and residents of the Ojai Valley for more than three decades. 2022 marked a safe return to many workshops and activities after close to two years of no in-person programs. As summer wraps up and we head into a new school year, join us in taking a look back at the BRAVO program’s accomplishments.


Third graders’ returned to visiting retirement homes.
It was a time of authenticity, as the children experienced the joy, wisdom and humor that was possible while playing and singing with our elders. The staff said they hadn’t seen that many smiles in many months. The next week in class the students and teachers talked about how important that time was for them. The children learned that seniors are really nice, and fun!

Ojai O’Daiko performed Taiko Drumming music at this year’s Imagine concert.
840 children and 70 adults attended the performance at the Libbey Bowl thanks to an on-going partnership with the Ojai Valley School and funding from the Barbara Barnard Smith Worlds Music Foundation. Students were amazed that they could feel the music vibrate in their bodies!

The Instrument Petting Zoo was added to the Memorial Day weekend Art in the Park.
The program reached 700 more community members by giving them opportunities to try instruments and meet our BRAVO committee members.

New this past year – bringing musicians into 4th and 5th grade classes and having a few continuing sessions with Ms. Laura to expand upon all that we learned during our previous years together.
Teachers said they had never seen the children so attentive. Plans are in motion to expand the program for next year. Stay tuned!

Children/groups/classes served

Education Through Music schools:
BRAVO was in residence at Summit, San Antonio, Topa Topa, Meiner’s Oaks, Miramonte, Summit/Rock-Tree-Sky
28 classes; 660 children

Pilot Program: 4th/5th grades at Topa Topa Elementary:
7 sessions, 55 children per session
385 direct experiences
4 components: harp, violin, cello, Education Through Music

Artists in Residence:
Shelley Burgon, harp
Kathleen Robertson, violin
Cameron Schubert, cello
Julie Tumamait, Chumash storyteller/musician
Laura Walter, flute
Joann Yabrof, ETM

Music Van:
Thanks to the efforts of our Music Van volunteers, coordinated by Lynne Doherty, Music Van visited 7 schools, 5th graders (455 children)

Bravo Music Camp, June: 5 days, 30 children aged 6-13
Bravo Music Camp, August: 5 days, 30 children aged 5-13

Community Events

Ojai Day Oct. 16, 10am-4pm, 400 people served
Art in the Park, May 25-26, 10am-5pm, 700 people served

Music for Holiday Home Marketplace:
Kathryn Carlson, cello
Babette and Bob, acoustic duo
Debby Finley and Friends
Madrigali, vocal
Ruby Skye, acoustic duo
Fire on the Mountain, bluegrass trio
Ray Sullivan, guitar

Ojai Valley Museum First Fridays:
Dec. Laura Walter, flute; June-Laura Walter and Kylie Cloutier, flutes; August-Ray Sullivan, guitar

Storytelling Festival, Oct. 31, Ruby Skye

Imagine Concert:
Ojai O’Daiko, Taiko Drumming
March 25, Libbey Park, 840 children, 70 adults

Senior Living

Sends volunteers into assisted living facilities (traditionally the Continuing Care Center) and helps the residents play hand percussion.
The Artesian (October, June- cello)

The Bridge
All 3rd graders in the district go into assisted living facilities and play and sing with residents.
The Bridge at The Gables of Ojai—75 students, 40 seniors
The Bridge at The Artesian—75 students, 30 seniors