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

 

SPOTIFY

APPLE MUSIC

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

Virtual Ojai Talks with Wu Man

 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!

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.

Ms. Wu has performed as a soloist with many of the world’s major orchestras, including the Austrian ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Moscow Soloists, Nashville Symphony, German NDR and RSO Radio Symphony Orchestras, New Music Group, New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. Her touring has taken her to the major music halls of the world including Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Great Hall in Moscow, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Opera Bastille, Royal Albert and Royal Festival Halls in London, and the Theatre de la Ville in Paris. She has performed at many international festivals including the Auckland Arts Festival, Bang on a Can Festival, BBC Proms, Festival d’Automne in Paris, Festival de Radio France et Montpellier, Hong Kong Arts Festival, La Jolla Summerfest, Lincoln Center Festival, Luminato, Mozart Festival in Vienna, NextWave! / BAM, Ravinia Festival, Silk Road Festival, Sydney Festival, Tanglewood, Wien Modern, WOMAD Festival, and the Yatsugatake Kogen Festival in Japan. She continually collaborates with some of the most distinguished musicians and conductors performing today, such as Yuri Bashmet, Dennis Russell Davies, Christoph Eschenbach, Gunther Herbig, Cho-Liang Lin, Yo-Yo Ma, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and David Zinman.

Among Ms. Wu’s most fruitful collaborations is with Kronos Quartet, with whom she began collaborating in the early 1990s. They premiered their first project together, Tan Dun’s Ghost Opera,at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1995. The work was recorded and released on Nonesuch in 1997.  Additional Kronos Quartet recordings featuring Wu Man for Nonesuch include Early Music, on which she plays the zhong ruan and da ruan (string instruments related to the pipa) in John Dowland’s Lachrymæ Antiquæ and the Grammy-nominated You’ve Stolen My Heart, an homage to the composer of classic Bollywood songs Rahul Dev Burman, featuring Ms. Wu alongside the Quartet, singer Asha Bhosle, and tabla player Zakir Hussain. She participated in the Quartet’s 40th Anniversary celebration concerts at Cal Performances in Berkeley, CA and at Carnegie Hall; was Artist-in-Residence with the Quartet in February 2016; became the second inductee into the “Kronos Hall of Fame” (joining Terry Riley); and composed her first piece for western instruments, Four Chinese Paintings, for the Quartet’s “50 for the Future” project. Last season in Washington, D.C., she and the Quartet reprised their multimedia work A Chinese Home, conceived in collaboration with theater director Chen Shi-Zheng and premiered at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall in 2009.

As a principal, founding musician in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad project, Ms. Wu has performed throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia with the Silkroad Ensemble. She is a featured artist in the documentary The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble, as well as on the film’s 2017 Grammy Award-winning companion recording, Sing Me Home (“Best World Music Album”), which includes her original composition Green (Vincent’s Tune) performed with the vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth. She has recorded six albums with the group: Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet (2002), Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon (2005), New Impossibilities (2007), the CD/DVD A Playlist Without Borders Live from Tanglewood (2013), and Sing Me Home (2016) on Sony Classical, as well as Off the Map (2009) on World Village. Her Silkroad Ensemble performances in recent years have included tours of the U.S. during the season and to summer festivals such as Tanglewood, Wolf Trap, Blossom, Ravinia, and Hollywood Bowl; a tour of Asia; and performances with Mark Morris Dance in Berkeley and Seattle. During the 2019-20 season, she and the ensemble toured the eastern U.S. for the world-premiere performances of resident composer Osvaldo Golijov’s song cycle Falling Out of Time.

Adamant that the pipa does not become marginalized as only appropriate for Chinese music, Ms. Wu strives to develop a place for the pipa in all art forms. Projects she has initiated have resulted in the pipa finding a place in new solo and quartet works, concertos, opera, chamber, electronic, and jazz music as well as in theater productions, film, dance, and collaborations with visual artists including calligraphers and painters. Her role has developed beyond pipa performance to encompass singing, dancing, composing, and curating new works. She has premiered works by Chinese composers including Zhao Jiping, Tan Dun, Bright Sheng, and Chen Yi. Other notable projects include Orion: China, co-written with Philip Glass for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and recorded the following year; and Blue and Green, an original composition that she premiered with The Knights. In March 2019 Ms. Man and Yo-Yo Ma performed the American premiere of Zhao Lin’s A Happy Excursion with the New York Philharmonic. Recent projects have seen her rediscover, embrace, and showcase the musical traditions of her homeland, projects she has dubbed “Wu Man’s Return to the East.” In 2009, she was asked to curate two concerts at Carnegie Hall as part of the “Ancient Paths, Modern Voices” festival celebrating Chinese culture. Ms. Wu and the artists she brought to New York from rural China for the festival also took part in two free neighborhood concerts and a concert presented by the Orange County Performing Arts Society in Costa Mesa. In August 2012, she released a documentary DVD titled Discovering a Musical Heartland: Wu Man’s Return to China as part of her ongoing “Return to the East” project. In the film, she travels to little-explored regions of China to uncover ancient musical traditions that have rarely been documented before. Among the musicians she met on her journey were the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band, which she brought to the U.S. for the first time—touring to 11 cities around the nation. She has also toured around the world as a Master Musician in the Aga Khan Music Initiative—a group of performers, composer-arrangers, teachers, and curators who create music inspired by their cultural heritage of the Middle East, South and Central Asia, West Africa, and China.

Ms. Wu boasts a discography of over 40 albums including the Grammy Award-winning Sing Me Home (“Best World Music Album”) with the Silkroad Ensemble on Sony; the Grammy Award-nominated Our World in Song, featuring familiar folk songs from around the world arranged by her with Hawaiian instrumentalist Daniel Ho and Cuban percussionist Luis Conte; and Elegant Pipa Classics, which combines traditional pipa repertoire with modern compositions, both released by Wind Music. Traditions and Transformations: Sounds of Silk Road Chicago features her Grammy Award-nominated performance of Lou Harrison’s Pipa Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as a Grammy-nominated recording of Tan Dun’s Pipa Concerto with Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists on Onyx Classics. In May 2012, she released her Independent Music Award-nominated CD / DVD Borderlands, which traces the history of the pipa in China. It is the final installment of the acclaimed ten-volume “Music of Central Asia” ethnographic series produced by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. In Wu Man and Friends, released on Traditional Crossroads in 2005, she blends Chinese, Ukrainian, Ugandan, and Appalachian traditional music, performing alongside musicians from these regions.Her solo recordings include Pipa: From a Distance, released on Naxos World Music in 2003, and Immeasurable Light, released on Traditional Crossroads in 2010. Fingertip Carnival, her latest release for Wind Music, explores the connections between Chinese and Mexican folk music and each culture’s use of stringed instruments with the San Diego-based son jarocho group Son de San Diego. Her most recent recordings have seen her pair the pipa with traditional wind instruments: with the Japanese shakuhachi on Flow with Kojiro Umezaki released on In A Circle Records; and with the Chinese sheng on Distant Mountains with Wu Wei recorded live at the 2018 Morgenland Festival Osnabrueck and released by Dreyer Gaido.

Born in Hangzhou, China, Ms. Wu studied with Lin Shicheng, Kuang Yuzhong, Chen Zemin, and Liu Dehai at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she became the first recipient of a master’s degree in pipa. Accepted into the conservatory at age 13, her audition was covered by national newspapers and she was hailed as a child prodigy, becoming a nationally recognized role model for young pipa players. She subsequently received first prize in the First National Music Performance Competition among many other awards, and she participated in many premieres of works by a new generation of Chinese composers. Her first exposure to Western classical music came in 1979 when she saw Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra performing in Beijing. In 1980 she participated in an open master class with violinist Isaac Stern, and in 1985 she made her first visit to the U.S. as a member of the China Youth Arts Troupe. She moved to the U.S. in 1990 and was awarded the Bunting Fellowship at Harvard University in 1998. She was the first Chinese traditional musician to receive the United States Artist Fellowship (2008) and the first artist from China to perform at the White House. She currently resides in California.


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.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
Check out the episodes below along with featured clips:

EPISODE 1>>
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.

EPISODE 2>>
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.

EPISODE 3>>
AMOC* member and pianist Conor Hanick plays and discusses The Book of Sounds by the late German pianist, composer, and broadcaster, Hans Otte.

EPISODE 4>>
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.

Highlights

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

Upbeat
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

2022 Festival Photos

Photos by Timothy Teague

 

Photos by Joshus S. Rose

 

Festival Patron Photos by Timothy Teague

2022 Festival Critical Acclaim

Thank you

Thank you

Thank you for joining us at our 76th Festival, June 9-12, 2022. It was an exhilarating time! The energy and boundless creativity of AMOC* was vividly present across the Ojai Valley, giving all of us an extraordinary artistic adventure. Read review excerpts below.

Relive concerts anytime by watching our archived live streaming concerts

 View our photo gallery of some of our favorite Festival moments.

Download PDF of reviews here

“The Ojai Music Festival has always been more than the sum of its considerable parts, thanks to its compact duration (little more than a long weekend), eclectic classical programming, embrace of other disciplines (including theater, dance and spoken word), and sustained ability to attract luminaries to its still delightfully rustic outdoor setting—Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland and Pierre Boulez remain the most famous of its annually appointed music directors. Yet this year, something else pervaded, too: a feeling that the center of the classical-music universe, at least from June 9 through 12, was right here.”  – Wall Street Journal

“Davóne Tines, in a program note describing amoc’s approach to Eastman’s unswervingly radical music, wrote, “What is possible if all members of a performing ensemble are present for every step of the creation of a performance?” Ojai made the possibilities clear.” – The New Yorker

“There is nothing in music quite like Ojai, now three-quarters of a century old, with that packed morning-to-night-schedule, its variety of spaces and the stalwart curiosity of its audience. Led by Ara Guzelimian with a steady hand, the festival is Southern California relaxed — T-shirts and shorts, maybe a hoodie at night — but the repertory tends rigorous and recondite.” – New York Times

“This Utopian collective of 17 extraordinary artists happily reinventing opera was the communal music director last weekend for the 75th anniversary of this ever-quixotic festival.” – Los Angeles Times

“Eastman’s beloved half-hour Gay Guerilla was a standout moment during the program — and the festival. The dizzily ecstatic work came off as a musical statement at once unruly and internally logical, raucous and yet reflective, as was Eastman’s complex musical wont. Among other distinguishing marks at Ojai 2022, Eastman now joins the ranks of the festival’s ever-expanding songbook of 20th- and 21st-century greats whose music left a mark in this dreamy outpost of a town.” – San Francisco Classical Voice 

“Open Rehearsal, directed by the choreographer and dancer Bobbi Jene Smith, felt more nuanced. An outgrowth of Smith’s recent work “Broken Theater,” it is a wry, sometimes uproarious and poignant metatheatrical riff on the process of creation.” – New York Times

“For all its worldly trappings, as an annual gathering point for internationally-respected musicians, composers, conductors, plus visitors and press from near and far, the unique power of the Ojai Music Festival (ojaifestival.org) is partly rooted in its “village” concept. As the cliché goes, it “takes one” to pull all the festival pieces together and it is one, a golden west coast destination spot.” – Santa Barbara Independent 

“With AMOC’s boundary-pushing tenure at an end, Ojai has once more proved the most elastic of music festivals. And it seems clear that Mr. Guzelimian intends to continue stretching things.” – Wall Street Journal

“Compositional styles ran a wide gamut at the festival, from the ethereal simplicity of Cassandra Miller’s “About Bach” to the riotous, pop-flavored eclecticism of Doug Balliett’s mini-opera Rome Is Falling.” – The New Yorker

“Everything for AMOC is sacred in that it needs to perform at the highest level, but nothing is so sacred that it can’t be rethought musically, socially, racially, sexually, theatrically, physically.” – Los Angeles Times

“Many in the arts these days talk a big game about interdisciplinary collaboration, but few walk the walk like AMOC– New York Times

Podcast Series: OJAICast 2022

SEASON 2

Welcome to OJAICast, where we pull back the curtain to take a sneak-peek at the upcoming Ojai Music Festival, June 9 to 12, 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 introduces us to our 2022 Music Director AMOC, the multidisciplinary collective which incorporates music, dance, poetry, theatre in all their work and their ambitious programming that begins on Thu June 9. Guests: Ara Guzelimian, Zack Winokur, and Keir Gogwilt

Emily Praetorius, producer and host
Louis Ng, sound engineer (lensonproductions.com)

OJAICast theme by Thomas Kotcheff and Louis Weeks

Music Excerpts in Episode 1:
Craigie Hill, by Keir GoGwilt and Celeste Oram
Performed by Keir GoGwilt

Prelude to the Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc, by Julius Eastman
Performed by Julius Eastman

Rebonds B, by Iannis Xenakis
Performed by Steven Schick

Gretchen am spinnrade, by Eric Wubbels
Performed by Eric Wubbels and Mariel Roberts

 

Episode 2

From early morning sunrise to evening sunset, AMOC dives into the music of icons George Lewis and Roscoe Mitchell, the life and music of Julius Eastman alongside world premieres of works by Anthony Cheung and new staging of Messian’s Harawi. Guests: AMOC member and flutist Emi Ferguson and composer Anthony Cheung.

Emily Praetorius, producer and host
Louis Ng, sound engineer (lensonproductions.com)

OJAICast theme by Thomas Kotcheff and Louis Weeks

Music Excerpts in Episode 2:
Gay Guerilla, by Julius Eastman
Performed by Julius Eastman

Stay on It, by Julius Eastman
Performed by Julius Eastman, Doug Gaston, Amrom Chodos, Dennis Kahle, Benjamin Hudson, Joseph Ford, George Mitkoff, Jan Williams, Peter Kotik

Harawi, mvts. 2, 6, 10, by Olivier Messiaen
Performed by Hetna Regitze Bruun and Kristoffer Hyldig

 

Episode 3

Let Festival weekend begin! In this episode we look at the Saturday program which is quintessential Ojai Music Festival — music of Bach and Bach re-imagined and three premieres of some of today’s most exciting composers Matthew Aucoin, Carolyn Chen, and Andrew McIntosh. Guests: AMOC co-founder/composer Matthew Aucoin and AMOC member and violinist Miranda Cuckson.

Emily Praetorius, producer and host
Louis Ng, sound engineer (lensonproductions.com)

OJAICast theme by Thomas Kotcheff and Louis Weeks

Music Excerpts in Episode 3:
cross/collapse, by Catherine Lamb

About Bach, by Cassandra Miller
Performed by Quatuor Bozzini

Tanz Tanz, by Reiko Füting
Performed by Olivia de Prato

Prelude in G Minor, by Bach
Performed by Emi Ferguson and Ruckus

Little Jimmy, by Andrew McIntosh
Performed by Yarn/Wire

 

Episode 4

More music, meditation, and dance plus community events end the four-day Festival starting with Meditation with the music of Julius Eastman, followed by Hans Otte’s The Book of Sounds, and two world premieres Dance in the Park and Rome is Falling. To end this jam-packed Fesrival, the Sunday Finale will display the virtuosity of all 17 AMOC members as a collective. Guests: Ara Guzelimian, Julia Eichten, and Doug Balliett.

Emily Praetorius, producer and host
Louis Ng, sound engineer (lensonproductions.com)

OJAICast theme by Thomas Kotcheff and Louis Weeks

Music Excerpts in Episode 4:
The Book of Soundsmvts. 1, 10, by Hans Otte
Performed by Ralph van Raat

Also available on SPOTIFY and APPLE PODCASTS
OJAICast SEASON 1

ABOUT OUR OJAICAST HOST 
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.

Caffeine Scene

Where to get a cup of coffee (and more) in Ojai

By Lisa McKinnon

First-time visitors to downtown Ojai may be surprised when they go looking for a Starbucks: There isn’t one, thanks to a moratorium on chain businesses with five or more locations. Luckily, Ojai Music Festival audiences in need of a caffeinated pick-me-up between song cycles and dance-theater pieces have plenty of non-corporate options from which to choose.

Beacon Coffee Co., 211 W. Ojai Ave., no phone, beaconcoffee.com. Daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Beans sourced from small farms in Kenya, Costa Rica and Guatemala are roasted at the café’s sister location in Ventura, then featured in pour overs, flat whites, cappuccinos and seasonal mochas (the festival coincides with Beacon’s annual switch from Ojai Pixie to lavender, the latter from Frog Creek Farm in the Upper Ojai). Magic Hour teas blended in Ojai are available hot or cold. The café’s kitchen is home to SunOven gluten-free vegan bakery, which produces lavender-lemon doughnuts among other treats. Additional baked goods are from Frontside Cafe in Ventura.

Café Boku, 987 W. Ojai Ave., 805-650-2658, cafeboku.com. Daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The menu of organic, plant-based food and drinks infused with ingredients from Ojai-based Boku Superfoods includes coffees and espressos made from locally roasted beans from Bonito Coffee Roaster. Enjoy an invigorating Golden Shroom Latte while juicing up your electric car at the café’s bank of chargers.

Coffee Connection, 311 E. El Roblar Drive, Meiners Oaks, 805-646-7821, coffeeconnectionojai.com. 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

Look for the orange patio umbrellas to locate this off-the-beaten path local favorite specializing in organic, fair-trade coffee, espresso and loose-leaf teas. Drinks are available hot or cold. You’ll also find Mexican hot chocolate and baked goods.

Farmer and the Cook, 339 W. El Roblar Drive, Meiners Oaks, 805-640-9608, farmer-and-the-cook.com. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.

The combination organic bakery, market and Mexican café with vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options also operates as a community gathering place and espresso bar with drip coffee and specialty drinks. “Beneficial” beverages like the Turmeric Toddy and adaptogenic hot chocolate (made with fungi) are available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Java & Joe, 323 E. Matilija St., Suite 105, 805-646-3138, javajoeojai.com. Daily from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Nearing its 28th anniversary, the coffeehouse offers an ever-changing lineup of roasts, plus specialty drinks that can be made hot or cold. There’s also a wide selection of whole beans, loose-leaf teas and mugs, carafes and tea pots to take home as gifts.

Love Social Café, 205 N. Signal St., 805-646-1540, lovesocialcafe.com. Daily from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Dune Coffee from Santa Barbara is featured, both freshly brewed and on nitro (cold). The café also serves lattes, cappuccinos and the eye-opening Gibraltar/Cortado – a double espresso topped with an equal amount of micro foam. Fresh-squeezed orange juice and matcha lemonade are also available.

Ojai Coffee Roasting Co., 337 E. Ojai Ave., 805-646-4478, facebook.com/OjaiCoffee. 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Owner and roaster Stacey Jones is often behind the counter at the café she opened in 1995 (and which served as a filming location for the 2010 movie “Easy A” starring Emma Stone). Arabica beans are roasted on site in small batches for coffees, espressos, red eyes (espresso plus drip coffee) and more. Check the specials board for lattes ranging from lavender to honey cinnamon.

Pinyon423 E. Ojai Ave., no phone, pinyonojai.com. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.

In a nod to the coffee-served-all-day tradition set by the pre-moratorium Jersey Mike’s that previously occupied its address, Pinyon serves French-press hot and cold-brew versions of Los Angeles-based Canyon Coffee from opening till close.

Sage Cafè, 217 E. Matilija St., 805-646-9204, rainbowbridgeojai.com/sage. 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays; 5-7:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays.

Keeping track of your caffeine intake? A “none-to-high” scale for teas is spelled out on glass display case at this counter-service restaurant that also serves drip coffee, collagen lattes and herbal tonics.

The Dutchess, 457 E. Ojai Ave., 805-640-7987, thedutchessojai.com. Daily from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Named for a vintage bread oven, the Rustic Canyon Family restaurant operates as a coffeehouse from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.-ish, when the focus is on order-at-the-counter service of Bonito Coffee drinks and Magic Hour teas (including a heavy-caffeine black variety dubbed Organic Flower Dutchess) to go with grab-and-go sandwiches, cookies, seasonal-ingredient cakes and artisanal breads by pastry chef/partner Kelsey Brito and bread baker/partner Kate Pepper. The Dutchess switches to sit-down dinner mode at 4:30 p.m., when its California-Burmese menu becomes available.

Westridge Midtown Market, 131 W. Ojai Ave., 805-646-4082, westridgemarket.com. Daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Fans of Peet’s Coffee will find the brand served at the service deli.

Lisa McKinnon is Ventura-based food writer who drank a LOT of coffee and still managed to fall asleep during a special, four-hour performance at the 2002 Ojai Music Festival — but only because audience members were invited to bring pillows and blankets and told get comfortable on the Ojai Art Center floor for the duration. She’s on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok as 805foodie, and blogs at 805foodie.com.

Grab & Go: A Guide to Getting Something Between Concerts

With nearly 20 concerts, talks and open rehearsals planned over four days, the 76th Ojai Music Festival from June 9-12 doesn’t leave much time for leisurely dining. That’s where this partial list of Ojai places with order-at-the-counter and/or grab-and-go food service comes in handy: It’s organized according to proximity to Libbey Park, so you can find a spot within walking distance between events, or make plans to park just long enough to pick something up while making your way to the next performance. (Starting Thursday, June 9 you can also visit the Ojai Music Festival Green Room in Libbey Park for sales of pre-made sandwiches and small bites by Ojai Valley Deli CaféOjai Rôtie and The Vine Ojai plus beer, cider, and wine from Ojai Beverage Co.)

Marché Gourmet Delicatessen, 133 E. Ojai Ave. (half a block from Libbey Park), 805-646-1133, marchegourmetdeli.com. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays; 5:30-7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are available from a menu that includes soups, salads, quiches and sandwiches, plus gelato and bottles of wine to go. Call ahead to order box lunches that include a sandwich, side salad and cookie.

Grab n Go places Ojai Tortilla House, 104 N. Signal St. (half a block from Libbey Park), 805-797-8675, facebook.com/Ojaitortillahouse104. Daily from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. – if supplies last that long. 

Don’t let the “cash only” sign put you off: There’s room for an ATM inside this hole in the wall where house-made corn and flour tortillas are turned into tacos, burritos and quesadillas filled with your choice of veggies, steak, chicken or al pastor. 

Yume Japanese Burger Cafe, 254 E. Ojai Ave. (about a block from Libbey Park). 805-272-8963, yumejapaneseburger.com. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.

Wagyu beef is the specialty of the house, but the café’s riffs on burgers include shrimp katsu, vegetable croquette and – swapping bread for “buns” of rice – vegetable or shrimp tempura. Loaded fries, smoothies, shakes and bubble teas are also served.

Love Social Café, 205 N. Signal St. (about two blocks from Libbey Park), 805-646-1540, lovesocialcafe.com. Daily from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Easy-to-transport dishes range from avocado toast and bagels and lox to tuna, veggie and BLT sandwiches on your choice of croissant, gluten-free bread or Ojai Rôtie sourdough. 

Rainbow Bridge Market Deli, 211 E. Matilija St. (inside Rainbow Bridge Market, about two blocks from Libbey Park), 805-646-6623, rainbowbridgeojai.com. Daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Breakfast burritos and specialty juices — like the aptly named Rainbow Wallbanger — are local favorites. Salads include a mix-and-match option and pre-packaged greens with tofu, chicken or salmon. Sandwiches both hot (Brocc on the Wild Side) and cold (Rainbow tuna salad) are available until 5 p.m. and include gluten-free and vegan selections. 

Westridge Midtown Market, 131 W. Ojai Ave. (about two blocks from Libbey Park), 805-646-4082, westridgemarket.com. Daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.  The service deli has a priced-by-the-pound breakfast bar (open from 7 to 10:30 a.m.), salad bar and hot bar in addition to packaged sushi, grab-and-go burritos and sandwiches, brick-oven pizzas and “famous” Westridge Burgers made with ground beef or turkey. The original Westridge Market (802 E. Ojai Ave., about half a mile from Libbey Park, 805-646-2762) also offers made-to-order burgers, plus a create-your-own taco and burrito bar and, on the weekends, barbecue off the grill in the parking lot.

Hip Vegan, 201 N. Montgomery St. (about three blocks from Libbey Park), 805-669-6363, hipvgn.com. Daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tucked behind a hedge at Montgomery and Matilija streets, Hip Vgn (as the restaurant is styled online) is dedicated to organic, vegan fare that often is also gluten free. Spring rolls are filled with tofu and fresh herbs, while the Tiger Bowl features grilled tempeh with turmeric rice. Smoothies are made with almond, hemp and cashew milks.

Pinyon Ojai, 423 E. Ojai Ave., Suite 101 (about three blocks from Libbey Park), no phone, pinyonojai.com. 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. After its debut last winter, the wood-fired pizzeria, bakery and natural wines shop now also offers breakfast. House-made sourdough pastries and bagels are available from 9 a.m. (the latter are sold on their own, as breakfast sandwiches, or with shmear and Mt. Lassen trout lox). Hoagies and sourdough-crust pizza squares join in until around 4 p.m., with small plates, salads, desserts and pizzas available from noon to 9 p.m. 

La Fuente Mexican Food, 423 E. Ojai Ave. Suite 108 (about three blocks from Libbey Park), 805-646-7715, lafuenteojai.com. 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays, 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays. This homey spot located in the far corner of Fitzgerald Plaza serves tacos, tamales, sopes, burritos, and quesadillas (plus burgers and fries) in near-record time. Be sure to hit the serve-yourself salsa bar before departing.

Ojai Valley Deli Café1205 Maricopa Highway, Unit A (about 1.3 miles from Libbey Park), 805-272-8139, ojaivalleydelicafe.com. 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Since its December 2021 debut next to the Ben Franklin Store, the deli has become a locals’ favorite for its to-go-only service of salads, eggplant Parmesan, hot-off-the-grill panini and house-made desserts, including tiramisu and vegan carrot cake. Italian coffee is a specialty.

Lisa McKinnon is a Ventura-based food writer who has been squeezing in bites between Ojai Music Festival concerts since the 1990s. She’s on Instagram as 805foodie and blogs at 805foodie.com.

Creative Collisions with AMOC

 

Audiences expect to get a glimpse of the musical future at Ojai. Not as a sci-fi fantasy of escape but through encounters with visionary artists who are actively transforming the real-world landscape: precisely the kinds of artists attracted to AMOC, a collective of 17 musical thinkers and performers. As the Festival’s Music Director for 2022, AMOC (the acronym for American Modern Opera Company) practices a model of curation grounded in interdisciplinary collaboration.

AMOC gathers like-minded singers, dancers, instrumentalists, and composers who are each at the cutting-edge of their respective fields. It’s the rock super-group of contemporary classical music. “What has been essential for us as a company is that every project is in some way interdisciplinary,” explains composer, pianist, conductor, and writer Matthew Aucoin, who co-founded AMOC with choreographer/director and dancer Zack Winokur in 2017. “We’re excited to bring the theatricality that is inherent in every AMOC project to Ojai.” ‘Collision’ is a favorite image to illustrate how their multifaceted, discipline-crossing approach works. “There’s always a collision, whether that’s between music and dance or music and text and dance,” Aucoin adds. Or, as the Festival’s Artistic and Executive Director Ara Guzelimian puts it: “When you have all of these incredibly vibrant artistic atoms colliding with each other, what results is often the very surprising and very unexpected.”

“As a collective, there are many tentacles to AMOC. Its artists have many diverse gifts, and the whole company has been involved in the programming,” says Aucoin. For example, Family Dinner, his own cycle of mini-concertos, will each feature a different member of the company and include spoken “toasts.” This is among the exciting world premieres that will grace the 2022 Festival to be held June 9 to 12. AMOC choreographer Bobbi Jene Smith will create a new, collaborative dance piece adapting and extending parts of her recent film Broken Theater and showcasing the AMOC family. Smith will choreograph music by Schubert, Bach, Connie Converse, and Pete Seeger, developing a scenario in which the rehearsal process is deconstructed.

Indeed, dance will play an especially prominent role in this edition of Ojai Festival. Smith is joined by Or Schraiber, Yiannis Logothetis, and Coleman Itzkoff in creating Waiting, a new dance-music piece about the bonds of friendship and its attendant moral quandaries that is tinged with 1960s-style French theater of the absurd.

A significant number of AMOC’s members have developed careers in opera — an interdisciplinary pursuit by definition — including soprano Julia Bullock, bass-baritone Davóne Tines, tenor Paul Appleby, and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo. It’s characteristic of the company that they strive to expand our expectations of what opera can encompass. Aucoin, a 2018 MacArthur Fellow, took on opera’s foundational myth with Eurydice, his setting of a play by Sarah Ruhl that reconsiders the myth of Orpheus and his descent into the Underworld from his wife’s point of view. Eurydice was premiered in 2020 by Los Angeles Opera, where Aucoin is artist-in-residence, and the Metropolitan Opera presented a new production earlier this season that was broadcast internationally in HD.

Among the highlights of Ojai 2022 will be the world premiere staging by Zack Winokur, with choreography by Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber, of Olivier Messiaen’s 1945 song cycle Harawi. The Andean musical tradition illuminates the legend of Tristan and Isolde in this hour-long song cycle for soprano and piano. Julia Bullock has long envisioned a performance that explores the cycle’s dichotomies of “spirituality and sensuality, love and death, men and women.” Drawing together five AMOC members (pianist Conor Hanick, along with the aforementioned artists), this version will layer theatrical and choreographic interpretations with multicultural reflection and musical performance. “With every composer who wants to celebrate other cultures that they’ve experienced or been deeply inspired by, there’s always this danger of appropriation that I wanted to be conscious of,” says Bullock. She has therefore invited the voices of artists of indigenous Andean traditions to share their musical or dance traditions as a counterpart.

Another song cycle on the program highlights the extraordinary music of composer, pianist, and scholar Anthony Cheung: echoing of tenses, commissioned by AMOC, sets the words of Asian-American poets who reflect on issues of family, identity, migration, and loss. Paul Appleby will be joined by Conor Hanick and violinist Miranda Cuckson to perform Cheung’s blend of live performance and pre-recorded sound design.

Interpretation-as-collaboration: this is AMOC’s signature, Winokur observes. “Part of the reason we started the company is that the members are not being asked to interpret something already there but form these ideas collaboratively — and often leading out of their own passions, experiences and desires. We’re good at shape-shifting to support different members in the company’s projects and ideas. Ojai is a perfect place to do this because of its rich history of birthing so many important projects that still live in the world.”

“They are ahead of their time,” says Guzelimian. “The fact that they make the creation and the performance of work integral is also a critical statement about how a new generation of artists works.” Many of AMOC’s members have friendships and working relationships that go back to their student days at Juilliard — bonds that have intensified their collaborative process. Their extraordinary range of interests widens their expressive palette as well. New music meets early music in several of their programs, and the period instrument group/continuo band Ruckus regularly includes musicians who overlap with AMOC, such as composer and bassoonist Doug Balliett and composer and flutist Emi Ferguson. Ruckus will join in some events to expand AMOC’s ensemble. And since several of the AMOCers are avid hikers and lovers of the outdoors, audiences can expect to encounter music in unusual natural settings.

These collaborations allow AMOC to present performances in novel contexts, such as a program devoted to the works of Julius Eastman, for which special guest collaborator Seth Parker Woods shares his inspiring engagement with Eastman’s legacy. Another discovery awaits in a rare solo performance by pianist Conor Hanick of Hans Otte’s The Book of Sounds. A polymath artist who combined music, poetry, drawings, and art videos, Otte wrote in a Minimalist style that incorporates impulses from Eastern mysticism. The result, says Guzelimian, is “revelatory.”

Even a composer as familiar as J.S. Bach will emerge in a new light in a Libbey Bowl event offering contemporary reflections on his instrumental music, including pieces by Cassandra Miller and Reiko Fueting.

Some of the AMOC musicians are already familiar to Ojai audiences. Davóne Tines made his Festival debut in 2016 with Music Director Peter Sellars.  Emi Ferguson was featured in the recent 2021 edition. So did the venturesome violinist and violist Miranda Cuckson. “I loved the experience of playing for the Ojai audience,” she recalls. “Their receptiveness to all kinds of experiences was very palpable.” Julia Bullock made her first-ever appearance at a music festival when Dawn Upshaw invited her to appear at Ojai. For the soprano, “Ojai is a place of comfort, of real communion making, of openness and generosity — a place where community seems to be built.”

Similarly, the Ojai experience of intensive, contemplative music-making seems to be in AMOC’s DNA. “We try to create a festival atmosphere every summer at our residency/creative retreat in Vermont,” Aucoin says. That is the context for which he began creating the concertos in Family Dinner, as showcases to bring the company together after months of being separated during the regular year. “We want to bring that family spirit to Ojai,” Aucoin says. Winokur adds: “When we started the company, we had the thought that festivals were the best way to experience AMOC and for us to experience each other. We hope that will be the experience for the Ojai audience as well. Performing post-COVID, this is a time where we have to get back to the basics of why we do this.”

—Thomas May

 

AMOC’s Music Playlist

The 2022 Festival Music Director AMOC, a collective of today’s most adventurous musicians, singers, composers, choreographers, and dancers, is as eclectic and open minded with their musical interests as one would expect. To begin the new year and expand our own musical horizons, we asked each member of AMOC to share their personal listening of the moment — a selection which is characteristically wide-ranging and very individualistic.

Listen on Spotify and Apple Music
(Preview the AMOC playlist and log on to your account to listen to the full songs)

SPOTIFY


APPLE MUSIC

Click HERE to listen on Apple Music

Jonny Allen:
Jazz Crimes by Joshua Redman
This is a track that I just keep coming back to.  The groove is subtle but persistent.  Joshua Redman is such an incredible artist and Brian Blade’s drumming has always been an inspiration to me.



 

Paul Appleby:
My “what I’m listening to” pick is Kate Soper’s set of three songs for soprano and string quartets, Nadja.  I am a huge fan of Kate’s music because she has a language and voice that is entirely her own.  Her intellectual and literary interested are deeply personalized in her compositions and performances and her somewhat esoteric tests become vivid and immediate in her music.  This score is a great example of Kate’s incredible level of technical accomplishment as well as her imaginative and unique approach to her art.

More info

 

Matthew Aucoin:
Stranger Love, Act 3 (excerpt), by Dylan Mattingly, performed by Contemporaneous
Dylan Mattingly writes music of limitless jubilance and joy. This excerpt from his opera Stranger Love is a kind of dance party for the angels, built upon an unlikely echo from a Springsteen-esque “promised land.”

 

Doug Balliett:
I cannot stop listening to Ok ok pt 2 from Kanye’s latest album “Donda”. It’s got a heavy dark groove and guest Shenseea’s verse is jaw-dropping.



 

Julia Bullock:
Up From The Skies by Jimi Hendrix, from the album Bold As Love (1967)
It’s like some prophetic, post-apocalyptic love song… (honestly hope to find a way to sing it one day)



 

Jay Campbell:
I’m currently listening my way through Wadada Leo Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers, a gigantic sprawling 4.5 hour collection of 19 pieces written over the course of 30+ years, each one titled after various moments, ideas, people, or places related to the Civil Rights Movement. It’s music that is very much alive in a literal sense. As in, it really feels like it is deeply meditating on the lived experience of human life itself. It’s extremely moving, exciting, surprising, and sometimes baffling. But when I listen to this highly abstract music, my ears somehow feel closer to hearing a full spectrum of complex human experience in all of its contradictions of tragedy, playfulness, rage, and joy. And maybe things that I haven’t even felt yet. And — when you consider the context of the composer himself, a Black man born and raised in segregated Mississippi — things that many of us are privileged to never have to personally feel or experience.

 

Anthony Roth Costanzo:
Lately I’ve become obsessed with Betty Carter and how wildly inventive and abstract she is, both in how she deploys the extremes of her voice, and how she charts the trajectory of a song. From her piercing head tones, to her forthright parlato, to her childlike upper chest register, to her impossibly rich baritone notes, I find her a total revelation. You can hear those colors set forth in this track:



 

Miranda Cuckson:
Wadada Leo Smith America’s National Parks
I adore this work (which I first heard a few years ago) for many reasons, including its bracing beauty, its grouping of very satisfyingly distinct utterances and instrumental presences, its continually thrilling sensations of space and texture, and the composer’s deep vision of the psychological tension in our shared natural landscapes.

 

Julia Eichten:
While it was an extreme challenge to choose only one song from Xenia Rubinos’ latest album, Una Rosa, Cógelo Suave has been one of many that I have on repeat.  This swirl of a song will make any day brighter, break you open and have you singing!



 

Emi Ferguson:



 

Keir GoGwilt:











 

Conor Hanick:
The last thing played on my music app was the first disc of Beach House’s upcoming album, Once Twice Melody, which is lush, sweeping, synthy, and grandiose.



I’ve also been enjoying Jonny Greenwood’s soundtrack to the film The Power of the Dog, especially the Messiaen-esque finale Psalm 22.



Lastly, folks are rightly excited about the recent Floating Points / Pharoah Sanders collaboration, but I’ve found myself revisiting Floating Points’ 2015 album of experimental synth-jazz, Elaenia, with a particular habit of rewinding “Silhouettes (I, II, III)”



 

Coleman Itzkoff:
Pick: Matthew Aucoin’s Eurydice
I’ll admit to a certain degree of bias for my playlist pick, Matt being a close friend and current roommate here in New York City, but I truly felt compelled to list this new opera of his, which recently held it’s Met premiere to much acclaim. I was able to attend two live performances, as well as listen to the BBC broadcast on a recent long car trip and found so much of the music staying with me, swirling around in the back of my consciousness like the really great music tends to do. The score is dazzling, deeply moving, complex, tectonic (superlatives abound!), and the performance by Erin Morley, Joshua Hopkins, Barry Banks, and more, all backed by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Met Orchestra, is totally and utterly ravishing. For those already dedicated fans of Matt’s work, Eurydice is the latest and greatest contribution to his oeuvre (not to mention the latest in a 400-year Orphic opera tradition). And for those less familiar with the music of Matthew Aucoin, I can think of no better place to start!

More info

 

Or Schraiber:
Formidable by Stromae always makes me dance.



 

Bobbi Jene Smith:
La Solitude always makes me feel the dance inside of me. It has been a song that has been a starting point for many dances I have made. Thank you, Barbara, for haunting and dancing with me. I hope this song will make you feel the dance in you too.



 


Davónes Tines:
six thirty by Ariana Grande
Towards the end of the year I’m feeling cozy and romantic.  This song from one of my favorite artists, on her latest album, continues to evolve her special combination of crisp vocals wrapped in string-infused r&b redux.



 

Zack Winokur:
We Do Not Belong Together performed by Bernadette Peters and Mandy Patinkin. I’ve been listening pretty nonstop to Stephen Sondheim since his death. It’s hard to choose just one, but this song is the devastating apotheosis of a genuinely real relationship at the core of Sunday in the Park with George, a show I was going to direct last spring until covid struck it down.



2022 Virtual Ojai Talks

May 25 Ojai Talks


Welcome back to the Festival’s continuing series of Virtual Ojai Talks, where we celebrate the intersection of music, ideas, and the creative process with 2022 Festival artists, composers, innovators, and thinkers.

 

 

MAY 25, 5:30PM PT: AMOC* DANCES: COLLABORATIVE DANCE/MUSIC WORKS featuring Bobbi Jene Smith, Julia Eichten, Keir GoGwilt, Coleman Itzkoff, and Or Schraiber with guest host WYNC/New Sounds John Schaefer. 

*

A new song cycle, the echoing of tenses, commissioned by the Ojai Festival (with a gift in honor of Nancy Sanders) from Anthony Cheung, sets poetry by Asian-American writers interconnected by the larger theme of memory, made complicated by the circumstances of cultural and personal identity. Join us for this illuminating conversation with composer Anthony Cheung and two members of AMOC* – violinist Miranda Cuckson and composer/co-founder Matthew Aucoin.

*

Messiaen’s HARAWI
WED April 6, 2022 | 5:30-6:30pm

Julia Bullock, Conor Hanick, and Zack Winokur, AMOC members
The Festival will present the world premiere of AMOC’s staging of Messiaen’s song cycle Harawi for soprano and piano. In addition to Julia Bullock and Conor Hanick’s performance, this production breaks open Messiaen’s musical explorations of love and death into a newly theatrical dimension through the choreography of Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber, directed by Zack Winokur.

*

The Music of Julius Eastman 
Davóne Tines and Doug Balliett, AMOC members
Seth Parker Woods, cello
Episode 3:
The legacy of Julius Eastman will come to the 2022 Ojai Music Festival in a multi-dimensional performance piece, reflecting Eastman’s art and the larger context of his life, creativity, and humanity. Showcased in this concert will be AMOC members Davóne Tines and Doug Balliett, along with cellist and frequent AMOC colleague Seth Parker Woods. Join us for another illuminating conversation on the creative process and Eastman’s impact on each of them.

*

Episode 2: Pianist and AMOC member Conor Hanick joins us for a lively conversation with Ara Guzelimian to talk about his advocacy for performing new works and his recent discovery of pioneering German composer Hans Otte’s The Book of Sounds, which Conor will perform in an epic recital at Ojai in June.  

Conor Hanick is regarded as one of his generation’s most inquisitive interpreters of music new and old. A fierce advocate for the music of today, he has premiered over 200 works and collaborated with composers both emerging and iconic. Among them, he has worked with Pierre Boulez, Kaija Saariaho, and Steve Reich, in addition to championing music by leading composers of his own generation, including Caroline Shaw, Matthew Aucoin, Nina Young, Nico Muhly, and Samuel Adams.  Conor appears regularly as a recitalist and chamber musician and in recent seasons has been presented by the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Caramoor Festival, Park Avenue Armory, and Gilmore Festival. Since 2014 he has been a faculty artist at the Music Academy of the West and in 2018 became the director of its Solo Piano Program. 

Episode 1: Co-founders Matthew Aucoin and Zack Winokur of AMOC, 2022 Music Director, talk with Ara Guzelimian on the origin story of this exciting collective of artists

Current and past projects include The No One’s Rose, a devised music-theater-dance piece featuring new music by Matthew Aucoin, directed by Zack Winokur with choreography by Bobbi Jene Smith; EASTMAN, a multi-dimensional performance piece contending with the life and work of Julius Eastman; Winokur’s production of Hans Werner Henze’s El Cimarrón, which has been performed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and 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 Luminato 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. Additionally, AMOC will serve as the Ojai Music Festival’s 2022 Music Director, only the second ensemble, and first explicitly interdisciplinary company, to hold the position in the Festival’s 75-year history.

Learn about AMOC in 5 Minutes

The Ojai Music Festival’s 2022 Music Director AMOC (American Modern Opera Company) develops and produces 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. Get a glimpse of this boundary-breaking ensemble and understand why they are a perfect fit for Ojai’s longstanding legacy of innovation and adventure. 

 

We did it … Together!

Message from Ara Guzelimian

It turned out to be a magical time of reunion and renewal, as we celebrated our 75th anniversary Festival in the best of company. As I take a breath and reflect on that beautiful September weekend, I feel boundless gratitude. We gathered together in Ojai and cherished the singular joy of being in the company of music and musicians as a communal experience.

The predominant emotion of the concerts was one of joy and optimism, particularly as defined by the energies and creativity of a new generation of composers. John Adams was so very wise in making sure this anniversary festival looked forward. All our artists embraced that spirit wholeheartedly, especially determined to do so in the face of the painful events of the past eighteen months.  Our great thanks go to John, not only for the riches of his own music, but also for the choice of artists and works which so beautifully defined the arc of this festival.

Let us take a moment to bask in just a few selected memories. Enjoy our photo gallery of Festival moments as captured by photographer Timothy Teague:

It took remarkable devotion on the part of many people to get us here, beginning with our dedicated Board of Directors who have been steadfast in their vision, generosity and clarity of purpose. I offer my heartfelt thanks to the artists, the staff, interns, volunteers and housing hosts who worked tirelessly to make this a most special festival, often in the face of unexpected challenges – did I mention that Víkingur Ólafsson was nearly turned away at the airport in Reykjavik because of confusion about his (entirely correct!) visa documentation? Somehow, there was always a solution to be found. Even the weather was ideal, with mild temperatures and soft breezes to bring Ojai enchantment 

But I reserve a very measure of thanks to each of you, for your continued faith in the Ojai Festival, for complying with the safety measures, for your generosity in supporting the festival financially, and most of all, for your irreplaceable presence at concerts (and by extension, long distance by way of our streamed concerts). You help create one of the most attentive, understanding, adventurous, and open-hearted audiences I have ever experienced.  

 And now, we begin the happy anticipation of the Festival to come in June 2022. We had a vivid introduction to two more artists from AMOC (the American Modern Opera Company), the collective of 17 instrumentalists, singers, dancers, choreographers, and composers, who together will be the Music Director in June. Violinist Miranda Cuckson and flutist Emi Ferguson, core members of AMOC, both made brilliant debuts at this year’s Festival. 

Miranda Cuckson shone in the virtuosic and expressive challenges of Samuel Adams’ Chamber Concerto, played a recital that ranged from Bach to Saariaho, and, in a stunning Libbey Bowl performance of Bach, created an iconic only-in-Ojai image: 

Emi Ferguson played Gabriela Ortiz’s Huitzitl with expressive power and grace, despite the distractions of another only-in-Ojai moment, the sounding of a persistent security alarm nearby. So I thought it’s only fair to revisit Emi’s mesmerizing performance, this time with the benefit of some subtle audio filtering that magically minimizes the sound of the alarm and focuses attention entirely on Gaby’s evocative music and the beauty of Emi’s playing! 

We can happily anticipate look ahead to more musical encounters with both Emi and Miranda, the return of favorite Festival favorite artists (and current members of AMOC) soprano Julia Bullock, bass-baritone Davóne Tines, and cellist Jay Campbell, as well as a happy introduction to all of the brilliant creative spirits of this endlessly-creative collective in the next Festival. We will meet all of the members of AMOC in the coming months by way of special online programming and conversations. 

In the meantime, our wholehearted thanks to each of you. I look forward to seeing you all again in June 2022 or sooner! 

2021 Festival Moments

Thank you for joining us!  Revisit your favorite festival memories below
Note: Images have been optimized for web/social media display;
Please credit and tag Timothy Teague or Ben Hoffman for photo credit.

REUNION

It is more than a festival. It is a homecoming, the recognition of a bond. On rough wooden benches — back in the day — or stretched out on the lawn, settled on a blanket, families in tow, this is a kindred fellowship, both alert and at ease. Performers get it right away because it only takes a rehearsal or two to realize that here it’s different. Young composers, cradling their newborn, often take more time. But after the jitters and anxieties of a premiere or first performance they look around and see where they are and are transformed.

For all the unseen planning of a dedicated staff (or more likely because of it) — Ojai always feels improvised, something that just happens. How easily conversations begin, over a new work, a performance, or this and that. Introductions come later, maybe after a year or two with a “remember when.” Then casual acquaintance blossoms into friendship. Yes, that’s a big part of it, the shared memories, something even initiates pick up on, when on Sunday they look back on Friday and the distance travelled in between. Something, too, about the place, the trees, the hills, the soft mists in the morning, the beating sun at noon, the evening chill. Old-timers know to come prepared, newcomers learn quickly. Then we leave, disperse, maybe one last meal and the long drive back, envying those who call Ojai home.

There are regulars, of course, true believers who attend every event. For others, however, Ojai is a smorgasbord — up for a day, perhaps, or an afternoon, or some years not at all. No matter; we all come back sooner or later, a habit formed through decades. Naturally, there have been changes. Time was, the festival was a simpler affair. Three days, five or six concerts; lots of time to spare, to chat, shop, a leisurely coffee, a bookstore browse, perhaps a walk, or bike ride. Back then Ojai sometimes felt like a coda to the Los Angeles season, to the Monday Evening Concerts, or the concerts of the Philharmonic, a showcase for the Southland’s finest, under the guidance, among others, of Lawrence Morton, Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Lukas Foss, Ingolf Dahl, Pierre Boulez, Ernest Fleischmann, not to mention resident composers such as Messiaen, Carter, or Kurtág — the legacies of giants. There was never a formula, a fixed agenda. There was freedom to pick, choose, and explore; to address the cultural and political preoccupations of the moment, to dare something new, to cozy up to something familiar, to be unapologetically eclectic. Ojai, as John Henken has written, “was always ahead of the counter- and multi-cultural curve.” Theater, dance, opera, non-Western music, and jazz have long been part of the mix. Just one thing: The music comes first.

It’s been more abuzz with activity recently. A stage rebuilt and shifted, a few trees lost, proper seats instead of sagging benches, a more forgiving sunshade, lots of bustle in the park. Tom Morris brought us events from dawn to midnight, spread around the lower and upper valley. The focus has grown from conductors and composers to include performers and ensembles; brash, innovative young artists from across the country and abroad who are rethinking music and the concert experience. New trends and fashions, our legacies in the making.
 
75 years — or longer? Consider a long-forgotten 1926 Ojai Valley Festival of Chamber Music, the so-called Frost-Sprague Festival with a $1,000 prize for the best new string quartet. “One of the greatest musical events that has ever taken place in America,” was the local assessment. Ah, the pride! We like to think we’re on the map, that we make a difference. No doubt we are, no doubt we have. Commissions, premieres, big names, new talents, correspondents from New York, London, and Frankfurt, weblinks, blurbs, and blogs, the world takes note. That’s all nice, good, and fine. But somehow, though we might care, Ojai itself is above such things. We listen, delight in new sounds, discover other cultures, new ways of making music, or interpretations that make us hear afresh what we thought we knew. But this place, this space takes it all in its serene embrace — the music with the birds, the crickets, the sirens, the bells, and the distant lawn mower. And because that’s so, this is a place of private epiphanies, revelations that come unbidden — we all have our favorites — moments to store quietly in our memories, to recall and share. Such are the shared moments that make each year’s festival a reunion. Together again. How good it will feel.

by Christopher Hailey 

Special thanks to Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne for their support of the Festival’s 75th anniversary season 

2021 Festival: The Ultimate Act of Optimism

If the Ojai Festival aged like a human being, the formidable storehouse of memories it has already accumulated would likely tilt the spotlight of this 75th anniversary edition toward the past — perhaps in the form of a retrospective celebrating highlights of these many decades. But the very spirit of Ojai — its open-eared curiosity and resistance to received ideas — evades that kind of chronological, linear account-taking.

The dislocations caused by the pandemic, the implications of which are still unfolding, have even triggered something of a Benjamin Button effect. After the long, traumatic abstention from live performance, it feels as though we’re aging backwards as we reconsider the basic issues we may have thought long since sorted out. And the urgency of today’s social justice consciousness has intensified a desire to hit the restart button. Acting your age, in this age, is to make room again for a radical hope that not so long ago might have seemed utopian overreach.

“This year’s Ojai Festival brings a real focus to young talent: especially young composers, but also young performers,” says Music Director John Adams, who previously served in that role in 1993. Even though much of the programming was envisioned prior to the pandemic, Adams instinctively chose the future as the vanishing point for his image of musical vitality.

Not that this is a new outlook for the eminent composer. Born in the same year as the inaugural Ojai Festival, Adams himself has steadfastly resisted the temptation to settle into comfortable habits and predictable patterns even while being increasingly feted as a musical sage. Anyone who comes to his work with expectations still constrained by such long-outdated pigeonholes as “Minimalism” is bound to be astonished by his tireless development of a complex musical language — and particularly by the paths he has followed over the past 15 years.

Aside from his own composing career, Adams has long been committed to mentoring the new generation through his involvement in teaching, curating, and commissioning. Not long after resettling from his native New England to the Bay Area in the 1970s, he led a new music ensemble at the San Francisco Conservatory that presented many premieres and experimented with fresh voices. “I was thinking about what has really meant the most to me over the years, and particularly now, at my age, it is my relationships with these younger composers,” Adams says.

Ojai Festival’s Artistic and Executive Director Ara Guzelimian recalls that Adams insisted on this focus on the future early on: “When he began thinking about this summer’s program, he became so determined that even though this is an anniversary festival it should not be a retrospective in any sense — and that it should not be centered around his music. This idea of bringing discoveries of new composers to the audience is very fitting for Ojai. He wanted the takeaway of this Festival to be an exploration of the next generation — the ultimate act of optimism, because they are the ones who will carry us forward.”

But what does Adams find so promising in these young artists? Above all, it’s their openness to inspiration from all directions — temporally and across genres, from the classical tradition, from its avant-garde fringes, from the by-now inextricably interwoven discourses that fuel our many-layered musical lives. Composers like Carlos Simon are navigating new ways of relating to an increasingly interrogated canon while at the same time honoring the authenticity of voices that it has historically marginalized. “I’m excited that at this Festival we have such a broad bandwidth of talent and also backgrounds,” says Adams.

Guzelimian adds: “If there is one takeaway from the 75th anniversary Ojai Festival, it might be that there is health in being poly-stylistic.” In this sense, the composers and performers featured over this intense, long weekend of music-making mirror the identity that the Ojai Festival itself has cultivated over its history: an openness to new sounds, unusual combinations, uninhibited fusions and even contradictions, and, above all, to the possibility of genuine epiphanies amid these uncertain, fearful times. Sometimes, this might even be an attempted recovery of what was once known as a sense of the sublime, as we encounter in the world premiere of Dylan Mattingly’s Sunt Lacrimae Rerum.

Mattingly is among the California composers who have a particularly strong presence in Adams’s lineup — along with Gabriella Smith, Samuel Adams, and Anthony Cheung. This in turn represents a subsidiary theme of “homecoming” and a West Coast sensibility that runs through the programming — though this, too, cannot be reduced to a single trend. Gabriela Ortiz, the outstanding Mexican composer, extends this geographical orientation further and offers a potent counterweight to the Eurocentric focus that has so long dominated discussions of new music. “I think that music is very interested in other latitudes and other cultures, that the future is no longer limited to European aesthetics, as we were taught in the past,” Ortiz emphasizes.

And through the participation of Julie Tumamait- Stenslie, a modern-day leader of the peoples who originally inhabited this magical paradise-on-earth, we acknowledge the enduring presence of the Chumash people. They have given this place its name: “Awhay,” meaning “moon” or “lunar phase” — changed to “Ojai” to make it easier to pronounce — was chosen to replace the Germanic “Nordhoff” in the wake of the First World War.

Adams’s choice of performers likewise intensifies the focus on a fresh, youthful perspective that is redefining the entire field. Just before the pandemic shutdowns began, Adams got to spend time touring with Víkingur Ólafsson for some of the first European performances of his dazzling new piano concerto Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? “Not only

is Víkingur a phenomenal pianist, he also has an amazing creative mind,” Adams remarks, referring to the Icelandic pianist’s equally convincing approach to well-known repertoire and new scores.

Like the featured composers — including fellow pianist Timo Andres — Ólafsson approaches inherited tradition as a contemporary language, transforming it into an inescapably thrilling new experience. By the same token, the Attacca Quartet and Miranda Cuckson bring to the new scores they interpret a conviction that confers on them the sense of longstanding authority. And the incomparable Rhiannon Giddens is such a natural fit for Ojai that it’s surprising this summer marks her debut at the Festival. “She seemed to John and to me to be ideal,” recalls Guzelimian, “because she is one of the most genuine pan-stylistic artists I know. She’s somebody who really is deeply rooted and convincing in a wide variety of musics.”

If there is no overarching trend among the composers and performers who are shaping music’s future, there is a shared value — the value of acting their age, as Guzelimian puts it, recalling how  Esa-Pekka Salonen was criticized at the beginning of his tenure with the LA Philharmonic for playing “too much” contemporary music: “He responded: ‘When I conduct Lutosławski’s music, I bear the same relationship and age to him as Karajan did to Richard Strauss.’ What he was essentially saying is, ‘I’m acting my age, I’m bringing forward what I know and love.’

I think this current generation is the least inhibited yet in drawing on the multiplicity of musics that they know.”

  • Thomas May

2022 Music Director AMOC shares initial programming for 76th Festival

 

The 76th Ojai Music Festival is scheduled for June 9–12, 2022 
Anchor programming will include world premiere performances:
  • Staging of Olivier Messiaen’s song cycle Harawi by soprano Julia Bullock and pianist Conor Hanick, staged by Zack Winokur, with choreography by Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber, who also perform as dancers
  • Broken Theater, staged and choreographed by Bobbi Jene Smith incorporating the entire AMOC company alongside special guest collaborators
  • Family Dinner, a cycle of mini-concertos by Matthew Aucoin, featuring the entire AMOC company, including Davóne Tines, Miranda Cuckson, Emi Ferguson, and Keir GoGwilt

“For many decades, the Ojai Festival has been an artistic oasis, a place where artists and audiences alike go to be refreshed by the Festival’s atmosphere of openness, experimentation, and adventure. AMOC is thrilled and honored both to uphold Ojai’s essential spirit and to expand the Festival’s scope by offering numerous interdisciplinary offerings that feature our signature blend of music, dance, and theater. We cant imagine a better forum to feature the astonishing work of AMOCs many artists, and next years Festival will include several world premieres—including choreography by Bobbi Jene Smith, music by Matthew Aucoin, a production by Zack Winokur starring Julia Bullock and Conor Hanick, and much more. This Festival will be a welcome return for many of us: a return to Ojai for beloved Festival artists including Julia Bullock, Jay Campbell, Miranda Cuckson, Emi Ferguson, and Davóne Tines, and a return to collaboration with Ojais Artistic Director & Executive Director Ara Guzelimian for the many AMOC artists who have benefited from Aras wisdom throughout their careers. AMOC, 2022 Music Director

 

OJAI, California – September 15, 2021 – As the Ojai Music Festival begins the 75th Festival (September 16–19, 2021) with Music Director John Adams, the Festival’s 2022 Music Director AMOC (American Modern Opera Company) and Artistic & Executive Director Ara Guzelimian announce initial programming for the 76th Festival, June 9- 12, 2022, which will conclude the Festival’s 75th anniversary year.

“We are exhilarated to gather this week in Ojai for our long-awaited return to an in-person Festival with John Adams as Music Director and the central presence of a new generation of composers whom John has invited,” said Guzelimian. “This is such a fitting beginning to our 75th Anniversary celebrations. And we even get to meet two brilliant artists this September — violinist Miranda Cuckson and flutist Emi Ferguson — who are members of AMOC, the creative collective who serve as Music Director of the next Ojai Festival in June 2022. I am so delighted to be collaborating with the endlessly imaginative artists of AMOC as the culmination of our 75th anniversary celebrations. They represent a fearless discipline- and genre-crossing leap into a new generation of artistic work. Several of the AMOC artists — Julia Bullock, Davóne Tines, and Jay Campbell — are already well known to Ojai audiences, so there are elements of both reunion and discovery in this remarkable company of 17 artists. We are in for a great adventure.”

Ojai’s 2022 Music Director AMOC is a discipline-colliding collective made up of 17 of the most adventurous singers, dancers, instrumentalists, choreographers, and composers at work today in music and dance. For the 2022 Ojai Music Festival, AMOC will serve as the first-ever collective to hold the position of Music Director in the Festival’s 75-year history. 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 co-founders — 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, Jay Campbell, Miranda Cuckson, Emi Ferguson and Davóne Tines will all make welcome returns to Ojai, having participated in past Festivals.

Programming for the 2022 Festival will include the world premiere performance of AMOC’s staging of Olivier Messiaen’s song cycle Harawi by soprano Julia Bullock and pianist Conor Hanick, staged by Zack Winokur, with choreography by Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber, who also perform as dancers. Harawi, written in 1945, is based on an Andean love song genre of the same name, with texts by Messiaen and incorporating the Quechua language. The 2022 Festival also will present the world premiere performance of AMOC’s Broken Theater, staged and choreographed by Bobbi Jene Smith and with participation by the entire company alongside special guest collaborators. Broken Theater is an intensely personal response to our time, beginning with the concept of a “ghost theater,” a theater empty in a time of isolation. The world premiere of Family Dinner also anchors the 2022 Festival. Family Dinner, a cycle of mini-concertos by Matthew Aucoin, features the entire AMOC company, including  Davóne Tines, Miranda Cuckson, Emi Ferguson, and Keir GoGwilt. Additional programming details for Ojai 2022 will be announced in the fall.

AMOC (American Modern Opera Company), 2022 Music Director

Founded in 2017, the mission of AMOC (American Modern Opera Company) is to build and share a body of collaborative work. As a group of dancers, singers, musicians, writers, directors, composers, choreographers, and producers united by a core set of values, AMOC artists pool their resources to create new pathways that connect creators and audiences in surprising and visceral ways. The company’s current projects include Comet Poppea, which includes an AMOC-commissioned opera by composer George Lewis and is produced in collaboration with Anthony Roth Costanzo and Cath Brittan, and The No One’s Rose, a new music-dance-theater work created in partnership with San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Stanford Live.

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 and 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 Luminato 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. 

CO-FOUNDERS
MATTHEW AUCOIN, composer, conductor, pianist
ZACK WINOKUR, director, choreographer, dancer

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
ZACK WINOKUR

MANAGING DIRECTOR
JENNIFER CHEN

PRODUCER
CATH BRITTAN

CORE ENSEMBLE
JONNY ALLEN, percussionist
PAUL APPLEBY, tenor
DOUG BALLIETT, double bassist, composer
JULIA BULLOCK, soprano
JAY CAMPBELL, cellist
ANTHONY ROTH COSTANZO, countertenor
MIRANDA CUCKSON, violinist, violist
JULIA EICHTEN, dancer, choreographer
EMI FERGUSON, flutist
KEIR GOGWILT, violinist, writer
CONOR HANICK, pianist
COLEMAN ITZKOFF, cellist
OR SCHRAIBER, dancer, choreographer
BOBBI JENE SMITH, dancer, choreographer
DAVÓNE TINES, bass-baritone

Learn more about AMOC >
Purchase 2022 Festival passes here>

 

Discover Art in Ojai – a curated tour by Frederick Janka

Beato Chocolates at Porch Gallery (porchgalleryojaistore.com)

Our community, long known as a haven for artists, is now reveling in a dynamic collection of vibrant and innovative art spaces that are exciting and fun to discover and share with our out-of-town visitors and guests. Imagine the following selection of top Ojai arts venues as a virtual gallery crawl to enjoy in one afternoon where one is bound to find one’s self both delighted and inspired by each radically different art experience.

Let’s start our tour at a white well kept historic building from 1874 that houses the Porch Gallery Ojai. Located in the heart of town, the gallery presents a diverse schedule of exhibitions of talented local, national, and international artists.  Also a local hub for events by many organizations and nonprofits based in Ojai and Ventura County, this is a true community gathering space centered around contemporary art. (310 E Matilija St, porchgalleryojai.com) Don’t forget to visit the Store at Porch Gallery the home of Beato Chocolates and many artist designed and inspired goods. Featured exhibition: John Millei: Works on Paper.

Matisse’s tête de femme, 1935 (canvasandpaper.org)

Head back now on Matilija Street and take a quick left up North Montgomery where you will find a handsome recently renovated cottage housing Canvas and Paper, the newest venue on our tour. Founded by a generous and scholarly collector, this is a small private gallery that offers a museum-like setting for contemplating three carefully selected works of art from the founder’s collection of 20th century modern and contemporary master works. (311 N Montgomery St, canvasandpaper.org). Featured Exhibition: Henri Matisse drawings.

Porfirio Gutiérrez: Continuous Line, Linea Continua (carolynglasoebaileyfoundation.org)

The Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation is a great Ojai art space to encounter museum quality artists from the greater Southern California region. The venue and its newest initiative, The Ojai Institute, is an artist residency, gallery, studio, and gathering space for artists and creatives. (248 S Montgomery St, cgbfoundation.org) Featured Exhibition: Porfirio Gutiérrez: Continuous Line/Linea Continua. Come by for a special gift to celebrate the Ojai Music Festival when you complete your art tour! Saturday only!

Current Exhibit: Sacred Deities of Ancient Egypt (beatricewood.com)

And there’s more! If you are attending one of the Saturday performances at the Zalk Theater at Besant Hill Scool, please make sure to visit the Beatrice Wood Center for the Arts, the longtime home and studio of the “Mama of Dada.” The center with its bright gallery and enticing gift shop offers a glimpse into Wood’s dynamic world of fascinating ceramics while also highlighting the works of some of our most talented local artists and artisans. (8585 Ojai-Santa Paula Rd) hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 11 am – 5 pm, Admission is $5 per person. Tours are $10 per person and include a discussion of Beatrice Wood’s life and work, as well as the Happy Valley Foundation’s fascinating history.

 (thebasicpremisegallery.com)

And on Ojai Avenue you will find The Basic Premise. An artists’ space and gallery, this is a great place for the new and established collector alike to discover art by some of the most daring and thought-provoking artists in the region. (918 E Ojai Ave, @thebasicpremise) Featured Exhibition: Tara Jane O’Neil & Jmy James Kidd in Residence.