What’s on your Bookshelf Recommendations

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


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

Alban Berg – Lulu
George Gershwin – Girl Crazy Suite


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

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

Thomas W. MORRIS
Books, etc:

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

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


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

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

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

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

Download the complete list!

Music For Our Time

A Message from Ara Guzelimian, Artistic & Executive Director 

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fall & Spring: Song & Play

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

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

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

LESSON 9 | 08.27.20

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


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


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


LESSON 10 | 9.3.20


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

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

LESSON 11 | 10.01.20


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

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


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


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

LESSON 12 | 11.05.20

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


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


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

LESSON 13 | 12.03.20

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


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


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


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

LESSON 14 | 01.07.21

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

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


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


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


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





Musical Segues: Where they are now


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

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


Kathryn Carlson

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










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

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

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

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

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

Ruben Salinas

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

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

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


Emily Persinko

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

Adryon de León

Nordhoff High School Graduate 

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

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

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

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

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

Dominque Wright

Arts Management Intern
Occidental College, Class of 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Arts Management Internship program

Joan Kemper Way

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

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

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

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

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

  • Ara Guzelimian, Artistic & Executive Director

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

Play Music on the Porch – A Virtual Global Effort


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


special thanks to our partner:

Beginning and Homecoming: Message from Ara Guzelimian

Dear Ojai Festival friends, 

A beginning and a homecoming. It is rare for the two to coincide. A few days ago I experienced a moment of transformation – I stepped down as Provost and Dean of the Juilliard School after 13 ½ rewarding years and became Artistic and Executive Director of the Ojai Festival (I seem to have a thing for compound titles!). Of course, I am hardly new to Ojai, having been associated with the Festival in one capacity or another for several decades now. But this feels like a real homecoming, a return to what I love so dearly. 

And what a time! We are in the strangest of circumstances, trying to understand practically and philosophically what is meant by “social distancing” when we humans are such fundamentally social creatures. In the midst of all this, the deep underlying fissures of American society burst unstoppably with the horrifying death of George Floyd, another moment in centuries of such horrifying incidents laying bare the disease of racism.  

We shared in the most meaningful way that we can, which is letting powerful art speak the truth. The Festival brought renewed focus to the world premiere of the first version of Josephine Baker: A Portrait from the 2016 Festival, written by Tyshawn Sorey with words by Claudia Rankine, sung by Julia Bullock and directed by Peter Sellars. 

Sadly, the 2020 Festival created by Matthias Pintscher and Chad Smith was cancelled in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, taking away the gathering at Libbey Bowl that we all cherish so much. In its place, there was a virtual festival with the joy of keeping company with Matthias Pintscher, Olga Neuwirth, the Calder Quartet, and Steve Reich, all so generously participating to honor the spirit of the planned 74th Festival. It was so incredibly heartening to gather together in multiple Zoom screens of virtual Patron Lounges ahead of each evening’s Festival stream and to have the pleasure of each other’s company in our mutual affection for Ojai and the Festival. Thanks to each of you for participating, watching, sending us some lovely notes, and generously giving financial support to help sustain the Festival in this trying time. We are what we are because of you, especially in these challenging days. 





Many of you commented on your pleasure in the virtual time spent with Matthias and Olga. I’m delighted that our colleagues at the Pierre Boulez Hall in Berlin have created their own virtual new music festival, anchored by works of Pierre Boulez, with newly written pieces by both Olga and Matthias, so I am happy to direct you to what sounds like an Ojai in Berlin. Click here to view. 

We have all had our ups and downs during this time of isolation, which makes us doubly grateful for those moments that brighten our spirits. I had just such an experience in a phone call with John Adams, the Music Director of the 2021 Ojai Festival, as we began our planning for what is to be the 75th edition. John and I spoke for an hour just dreaming up ideas about favorite music and musicians, discoveries we couldn’t wait to share with each other, and suddenly the whole perspective shifted – instead of talking about what we were missing in our isolation, we were talking with love and excitement about what will animate Libbey Bowl in a year’s time. It was like breathing oxygen again! 

Although a milestone anniversary year might suggest a retrospective, John was having none of that. He wants an absolutely forward-facing festival that celebrates the next generation of composers and musicians. Future Forward was born at that moment as the underlying driver of the 2020 Festival. We have invited a number of brilliant young composers and performers to form the core of the coming festival. We also decided to form an all-star, hand-picked ensemble of musicians to form the featured “band” of the Festival, focusing on the incredible talent to be found in California and around the U.S. We will make the first announcement of next year’s Festival near the end of July, and you will be the first to know. Stay tuned! 

In closing, I can’t help but relay a wonderful experience I have had in the past week. I was to be in Bamberg, Germany to serve on the jury of the Mahler Conducting Competition. Alas, it was not to be as the European Union continued a strict ban on U.S. travelers because of the high incidence of the virus in this country. Happily, I was able to take part virtually, awakening each morning at 3 a.m. to watch the livestreams of the sessions and then participating via Zoom in the jury room deliberations. I was thrilled to work again with the wondrous Barbara Hannigan, a fellow juror doubling as soprano soloist in the closing performance of the Mahler Fourth Symphony. Barbara is an extraordinary artist and human being, as we all well know from our time with her at the 2019 Festival. Her generosity and insight informed the conversations; her luminous singing in the Mahler gave it its closing benediction. You can watch the performance here with the fourth movement beginning at 1:16.50. 

And in the course of a deeply meaningful week of music and conversations, everything came full circle. The guiding spirit of the competition is Marina Mahler, the composer’s granddaughter, who is an irresistibly vibrant personality. In one of our conversations, I suddenly remembered that she had a long chapter in her childhood in Los Angeles. Her mother, the sculptor Anna Mahler, moved with Marina to Los Angeles to live with Alma Mahler, Gustav’s widow who was then based in Beverly Hills. It was in talking about our Southern California roots that Marina told me that she went to the Ojai Valley School, beginning at the age of seven! Who would have thought that there would be one degree of separation between Gustav Mahler and Ojai . . . .  

I took that as sign to redouble all our efforts in nourishing and supporting this unlikely treasure in a wooden bowl in a town park in the most heavenly setting. I have always thought of the Ojai Festival as something of a miracle. With your help, I will do all within my abilities to sustain and renew this beloved festival. 

Next year in Libbey Park! 

With thanks and warm regards, 

Ara Guzelimian 
Artistic and Executive Director 

P.S. Claire Chase and I have kept up a lively exchange of messages during these past four months as we record and send various experiences of bird song to cheer each other up. Claire has a decided advantage as a flutist! In honor of that exchange, I send you Claire and bird song, as channeled by Dai Fujikara.

Calder Quartet in a “Quarantine Style” Performance

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

Ojai Music Festival shares Five Subscriber Experiences

At the Ojai Music Festival, we value our patron’s experiences. This New Year we are kicking off an exclusive feature of five questions with five dedicated subscribers.

Bonnie Wright

First, tell us a little about yourself – what do you do? Do you play an instrument? I present the Fresh Sound concert series and have been doing this for 22 years.  Its all contemporary music not matter what the genre.  And, all musicians from out of town.  My goal is to bring music to San Diego that they wouldn’t otherwise get to hear.  Here’s the link to the website:http://www.freshsoundmusic.com

How many Festivals have you attended?

Im not quite sure – probably 2008 and will continue to do so until I drop-dead. 

How did you first hear about Ojai Music Festival?

 I don’t remember that either.  But since I am in the music-world, I’m guessing that somehow I got on your mailing list or heard about it from one of my friends.  OR,  Maybe in 2008 because Steve Reich was involved in and I’ve been a huge admirer of his since “Music for 18 Musicians” was out in the world in 1976.

How would you describe your Ojai experience?

 Delightful in every way.  The town, the restaurants, my Inn where I stay every year,  Libby Bowl, the friends I connect with while there and, of course, the music. And, Gina Gutierrez has become a friend over the years. She is wonderful,  efficient  and happily I get my same seat every year (P112)   It feels like it’s become my second home.    

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

Hmmm,  I always learn more about the music especially from Christopher Hailey and Ara Guzelimian.  

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

Osteria Monte Grappa where I/we can sit outside and enjoy.  Also, the Festival Place for members. 

Any recommendations for a Festival first-timer?  

GO . . .   Be sure to go to everything – Dawn concerts,  any and all talks, suppers in the Park and All the concerts. A good friend is coming there for the first time and he got a seat right next to me.  Yippee.  I will show him around.  

Glenn and Ida Mercer

(Pictured Above: John Adams, Glenn Mercer, and Ida Mercer) 

First, tell us a little about yourself – what do you do? Do you play an instrument?

Glenn: self-employed in the field of automotive research

Ida: professional musician (cellist) who performs (solo, chamber music, orchestral), teaches (Cleveland Music School Settlement), and manages (Executive Director, Cleveland Cello Society)

How many Festivals have you attended?


How did you first hear about Ojai Music Festival?

A friend told us about it.

How would you describe your Ojai experience?

Off the charts, in every way.  The music selection is fantastic, the performances almost always absolute top tier, the setting (Ojai itself and the individual venues) wonderful, the staff supremely competent (this is a VERY well-run festival), and the audience so supportive. It is almost otherworldly (where else do we hear listeners in their 70s or 80s griping that the program “isn’t modern enough this year!”).

“This past year (2019) we brought our adult son Ian along, as he is very interested in new composed music, as are we.  (Ian works in operations at The Cleveland Orchestra.)  He was especially taken with the precision and commitment of the JACK Quartet morning performances, and the power of the Grisey “Quatre Chants…”  And he has been a fan of Barbara Hannigan for a very long time.  He, as will we, will be back in 2020, for Matthias Pintscher and the Ensemble Intercontemporain.”

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

Musicians are approachable here.  As a small community forms around the Festival for its brief term of existence, anyone and everyone walks through the park, and can be met and talked to.  Almost anywhere else, featured artists are hustled off by their handlers to a hotel room, or just glimpsed briefly at the stage door.  Here, the musicians are available out in the open as it were, and seem delighted to interact with the audience.

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

Believe it or not, we cannot answer this question in a satisfactory way, and it is not because the town does not offer numerous wonderful spots.  This is because one reason we come back is for the full immersion: we go to EVERY concert you make available.  As a result, we don’t hang out anywhere, but just go home and sleep, until the next event!  That being said, we daily raid Rainbow Bridge for snacks and meals to go.

 Any recommendations for a Festival first-timer?

Seriously consider the 4-day series pass.  If you’re going to hear music of this quality, why not go for it and treat yourself to a year’s worth of excellence, in just four days!  If you are a fan of modern composed music, you cannot touch this Festival for abundance.


Lucy McKnight

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

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

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

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

How did you first hear about Ojai Music Festival?

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

How would you describe your Ojai experience?

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

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

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

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

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

Any recommendations for a Festival first-timer?

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

Perry & Tricia La Marca

Tricia & Perry La Marca

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

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

How did you first hear about Ojai Music Festival?

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

How would you describe your Ojai experience?

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

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

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

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

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

Any recommendations for a Festival first-timer?

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

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

Sunday June 14th Virtual Concert

Press Play; Click Box Above to Go Full Screen [  ]


Concert Notes

STEVE REICH (b. 1936) 
Drumming (1971) 

A Concert for Ojai: Pulses and Patterns 

The 2020 Ojai Music Festival programs designed by Matthias Pintscher have alluded to numerous threads and connections, bridges and transitions — all resulting in the enticingly varied menu of today’s scene. We’ve encountered a mixture of leading European and American composers, reflected on Pierre Boulez and his ties to the natural setting of Ojai, and sampled from the legacy of figures from the post-Boulez generation like Olga Neuwirth, Unsuk Chin, and Pintscher himself. The music of Steve Reich completes this summer of creative juxtapositions — and fills in a missing link between the realms of European and American musical innovation. 

But first, we turn to a pair of pieces by two other contemporary composers to start off this Concert for Ojai. Based in her native Mexico City, where she grew up in a family devoted to the traditions of Mexican folk music, Gabriela Ortiz explores intersections between the realms of avant-garde, jazz, and folk. Her opera Camelia La Tejana: Only the Truth was presented by Long Beach Opera in 2013. Written to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Cuarteto LatinoamericanoLío de 4 is a brief and playful piece that focuses on the potential of rhythmic elegance and vitality. 

A generation younger and a native of Puerto Rico, Brooklyn-based Angélica Negrón is a composer and multi-instrumentalist who has received accolades for her idiosyncratic use of toys, electronics, and robotic instruments. One of her current projects, for National Sawdust, is Chimera, a work-in-progress she describes as “a lip sync opera for drag queen performers and chamber ensemble exploring the ideas of fantasy and illusion as well as the intricacies and complexities of identity.” 

Triste Silencio Programático (2002) is one of Negrón’s first compositions and was inspired by the 1920 silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari as well as by the aesthetic of German Expressionist cinema. Directed by Robert Wiene and written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer, Dr. Caligari involves “an insane hypnotist [who] uses a somnambulist to commit a series of crimes,” the composer explains. “At that time, I played violin and Celtic harp in a band called Sinestesia and one of our earliest gigs was to compose and perform a live score to go along with this film.”  

Triste Silencio Programático draws on some of the themes she wrote for this score. “The first movement focuses on the dark mood of the film as well as the visual style with its unusual angles and distorted sets,” writes Negrón. “The second movement examines the dramatic contrast between light and shadow, while the third movement explores the destabilized characters and their inner mind with their complex psychological states. Triste Silencio Programático is a piece of music in black and white.” 

It was during the 1966 Summer Festival (programmed by Ingolf Dahl) that Steve Reich’s music made its Ojai debut: Michael Tilson Thomas played his Two Fugues for Piano. By an ironic coincidence, Boulez paid his first visit to Ojai that same year. His inaugural season as music director followed in 1967, and Boulez would return over the span of nearly four decades as music director at Ojai more often than any other artist. Yet he had a blind spot for major contemporary American composers. Dismissive of Minimalism in general, he never programmed any Reich. Yet the Ensemble intercontemporain, founded by Boulez himself, would later commission Reich and won his admiration for its precision perfection in interpreting his music.  

Completed in 1971 after a year of work, Drumming is one of the acknowledged early masterpieces of Minimalism and a pivotal work in Reich’s development. On the surface, it must have seemed far removed from the concerns of Boulez and his fellow avant-gardists in Western Europe — with the exception of György Ligeti. Reich once referred to Ligeti as “the European composer who has best understood both American and non-Western music.”  

Reich’s teenage love of jazz — in particular, Kenny Clark’s artists with the Modern Jazz Quartet — led him to take up percussion and form his own band. In 1970, a few years after his breakthrough experiment with phase music [see sidebar], Reich traveled to Ghana to study the indigenous drumming traditions of the Ewe people. Ligeti would follow his lead in the next decade, similarly drawing inspiration from African sources.  

Through close study with a master drummer of the Ewe tribe in Accra and his daily recording of lessons, Reich familiarized himself with the patterns and structures of African drumming. The most important influence of his stay in Africa, according to the composer, is that “it confirmed my intuition that acoustic instruments could be used to produce music that was genuinely richer in sound than that produced with electronic instruments.” Upon his return to the United States, he composed Drumming, which was premiered by the Steve Reich Ensemble at the Museum of Modern Art (in the film theater) in New York City in 1971.  

Depending on the number of repeats that are played in performance, Drumming lasts between 55 and 75 minutes and is Reich’s longest composition. His unusual scoring calls for four tuned bongo drums, three marimbas, three glockenspiels, and piccolo, plus an alto and a soprano; whistling is also part of the soundscape, contributed by one of the singers or a percussionist. Reich recalls that the long decay of the marimba is what suggested the idea of incorporating women’s voices, which sing the “sub-patterns” that result acoustically from this resonance. He also compares the vocal patterns to Ella Fitzgerald’s style of scat singing, which he listened to often while exploring jazz in his early years. A similar process results in the whistling and piccolo patterns in the glockenspiel and final ensemble sections.  

Notice the absence of bass instruments — in fact, the first three parts of the four-part work spiral successively upward in timbre until all of the forces join together in the fourth and final part. The whole work is shaped from a single core pattern. As Reich describes it: “Drumming begins with two drummers building up the basic rhythmic pattern of the entire piece from a single drum beat, played in a cycle of twelve beats with rests on all the other beats. Gradually, additional drumbeats are substituted for the rests, one at a time, until the pattern is completed. The reduction process is simply the reverse, where rests are gradually substituted for the beats, one at a time, until only a section leads to a build-up for the drums, marimbas, and glockenspiels simultaneously.” 

 Thomas May  

[SIDEBAR] Phase Music  

In the mid-1960s, Reich experimented with material he taped from an African American San Francisco street preacher named Brother Walter. He lined up identical loops taped live from Brother Walter’s fire-and-brimstone speech-song commentary on Noah and the Flood and played them back on two cheap machines. By accident, the machines grew slightly out of sync with each other as they continued playing from the same starting point. This overlapping echo created fascinating rhythmic patterns in which the identical strands slowly separated as they went out of phase and then came together again in cycles. By manipulating the phasing — multiplying the individual strands and so forth — Reich found that he could build a dense web that acquires a hallucinatory quality as it lifts the listener outside ordinary time. 

STEVE REICH (b. 1936) 
Tehillim (1981)

Spotify Playlist
Apple Music

Fire, Metal, and Praise   

A Hebrew title graces Tehillim, a landmark composition in Steve Reich’s long career. “Western music before 1750 and from Debussy onwards, as well as jazz and non-Western music, are the sources from which I’ve drawn almost everything,” Steve Reich once observed. Within the rich spectrum of those non-Western musical sources can be found Ghanaian drumming, Balinese gamelan, and the Sephardic music he encountered in the mid-1970s in Israel.  

The last involved a fresh encounter with Reich’s own roots and has born fruit in numerous compositions that reflect on the meaning of Jewish tradition and philosophy. Tehillim, composed in 1980, is the first of these — and Reich’s first piece incorporating voices since the mid-1960s, when he experimented with taped material. Here, he scores for four female voices plus chamber ensemble (with voices, winds, and strings amplified). 

Referring to the Biblical Psalms attributed to David, Tehillim literally means “praises,” Reich explains, adding that the word derives from the same three-letter Hebrew root as does “Hallelujah.” The work is divided into four parts based, respectively on these Psalms (Hebrew sources are followed by the equivalent Christian translations shown in parentheses): 19:2-5 (19:1-4), 34:13-15 (34:12-14), 18:26-27 (18:25-26), and 150:4-6. 

“One of the reasons I chose to set Psalms as opposed to parts of the Torah or Prophets,” according to Reich, “is that the oral tradition among Jews in the West for singing Psalms has been lost. (It has been maintained by Yemenite Jews.) This meant that I was free to compose the melodies for Tehillim without a living oral tradition to either imitate or ignore.” Handclapping, rattles, tuned tambourines without jingles, and small pitched cymbals are the closest analogues he uses to instruments that would have made music in the Biblical period. “Beyond this, there is no musicological content to Tehillim. No Jewish themes were used for any of the melodic materials.” The rhythms of the texts suggest the musical rhythms. 

For the first text, Reich implements a sequence of canons leading up to all four voices in canon on each of the text’s four verses. A transition on the drum leads to two- or three-voice harmony for Psalm 34, with English horn, clarinet, drums, and clapping interwoven into the texture. The attention to melody here is inspired by Reich’s experiences of Sephardic cantillation.  

The third part (Psalm 18), a slow movement, is unusually chromatic and begins as a duet between two of the voices. Ending with Psalm 150, Reich recapitulates ideas from the first three parts, returning to the opening tempo, and ends with full ensemble for a setting of Halleluyah. 

—Thomas May 

Program Book


Artist Bios

Steve Reich, Composer

Steve Reich was recently called  “our greatest living composer” (The New York Times), “America’s greatest living composer.” (The Village VOICE), “…the most original musical thinker of our time” (The New Yorker) and “…among the great composers of the century” (The New York Times).. From his early taped speech pieces It’s Gonna Rain (1965) and Come Out (1966) to his and video artist Beryl Korot’s digital video opera Three Tales (2002), Mr. Reich’s path has embraced not only aspects of Western Classical music, but the structures, harmonies, and rhythms of non-Western and American vernacular music, particularly jazz. “There’s just a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history and Steve Reich is one of them,” states The Guardian (London).

In April 2009 Steve Reich was awarded the Pulitzer prize in Music for his composition ‘Double Sextet’.

Performing organizations around the world marked Steve Reich’s 70th- birthday year, 2006, with festivals and special concerts. In the composer’s hometown of New York, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Carnegie Hall, and Lincoln Center joined forces to present complementary programs of his music, and in London, the Barbican mounted a major retrospective. Concerts were also presented in Amsterdam, Athens, Brussels, Baden-Baden, Barcelona, Birmingham, Budapest, Chicago, Cologne, Copenhagen, Denver, Dublin, Freiburg, Graz, Helsinki, Los Angeles, Paris, Porto, Vancouver, Vienna and Vilnius among others. In addition, Nonesuch Records released its second box set of Steve Reich’s works, Phases: A Nonesuch Retrospective, in September 2006. The five-CD collection comprises fourteen of the composer’s best-known pieces, spanning the 20 years of his time on the label.

In October 2006 in Tokyo, Mr. Reich was awarded the Preamium Imperial award in Music. This important international award is in areas in the arts not covered by the Nobel Prize. Former winners of the prize in various fields include Pierre Boulez, Lucian Berio, Gyorgy Ligeti, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Richard Serra and Stephen Sondheim.

In May 2007 Mr. Reich was awarded The Polar Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of music. The prize was presented by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. The Swedish Academy said: “…Steve Reich has transferred questions of faith, society and philosophy into a hypnotic sounding music that has inspired musicians and composers of all genres.” Former winners of the Polar Prize have included Pierre Boulez, Bob Dylan, Gyorgi Ligeti and Sir Paul McCartney.

In December 2006 Mr. Reich was awarded membership in the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest and in April 2007 he was awarded the Chubb Fellowship at Yale University. In May 2008 he was elected to the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.

Born in New York and raised there and in California, Mr. Reich graduated with honors in philosophy from Cornell University in 1957. For the next two years, he studied composition with Hall Overton, and from 1958 to 1961 he studied at the Juilliard School of Music with William Bergsma and Vincent Persichetti. Mr. Reich received his M.A. in Music from Mills College in 1963, where he worked with Luciano Berio and Darius Milhaud.

During the summer of 1970, with the help of a grant from the Institute for International Education, Mr. Reich studied drumming at the Institute for African Studies at the University of Ghana in Accra. In 1973 and 1974 he studied Balinese Gamelan Semar Pegulingan and Gamelan Gambang at the American Society for Eastern Arts in Seattle and Berkeley, California. From 1976 to 1977 he studied the traditional forms of cantillation (chanting) of the Hebrew scriptures in New York and Jerusalem.

In 1966 Steve Reich founded his own ensemble of three musicians, which rapidly grew to 18 members or more. Since 1971, Steve Reich and Musicians have frequently toured the world, and have the distinction of performing to sold-out houses at venues as diverse as Carnegie Hall and the Bottom Line Cabaret.

Mr. Reich’s 1988 piece, Different Trains, marked a new compositional method, rooted in It’s Gonna Rain and Come Out, in which speech recordings generate the musical material for musical instruments. The New York Times hailed Different Trains as “a work of such astonishing originality that breakthrough seems the only possible description….possesses an absolutely harrowing emotional impact.” In 1990, Mr. Reich received a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Composition for Different Trains as recorded by the Kronos Quartet on the Nonesuch label.

In June 1997, in celebration of Mr. Reich’s 60th birthday, Nonesuch released a 10-CD retrospective box set of Mr. Reich’s compositions, featuring several newly-recorded and re-mastered works. He won a second Grammy award in 1999 for his piece Music for 18 Musicians, also on the Nonesuch label. In July 1999 a major retrospective of Mr. Reich’s work was presented by the Lincoln Center Festival. Earlier, in 1988, the South Bank Centre in London, mounted a similar series of retrospective concerts.

In 2000 he was awarded the Schuman Prize from Columbia University, the Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College, the Regent’s Lectureship at the University of California at Berkeley, an honorary doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts and was named Composer of the Year by Musical America magazine.

The Cave, Steve Reich and Beryl Korot’s music theater video piece exploring the Biblical story of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac, was hailed by Time Magazine as “a fascinating glimpse of what opera might be like in the 21st century.” Of the Chicago premiere, John von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune wrote, “The techniques embraced by this work have the potential to enrich opera as living art a thousandfold….The Cave impresses, ultimately, as a powerful and imaginative work of high-tech music theater that brings the troubled present into resonant dialogue with the ancient past, and invites all of us to consider anew our shared cultural heritage.”

Three Tales, a three-part digital documentary video opera, is a second collaborative work by Steve Reich and Beryl Korot about three well known events from the twentieth century, reflecting on the growth and implications of technology in the 20th century: Hindenburg, on the crash of the German zeppelin in New Jersey in 1937; Bikini, on the Atom bomb tests at Bikini atoll in 1946-1954; and Dolly, the sheep cloned in 1997, on the issues of genetic engineering and robotics. Three Tales is a three act music theater work in which historical film and video footage, video taped interviews, photographs, text, and specially constructed stills are recreated on computer, transferred to video tape and projected on one large screen. Musicians and singers take their places on stage along with the screen, presenting the debate about the physical, ethical and religious nature of technological development. Three Tales was premiered at the Vienna Festival in 2002 and subsequently toured all over Europe, America, Australia and Hong Kong. Nonesuch is releasing a DVD/CD of the piece in fall 2003.

Over the years, Steve Reich has received commissions from the Barbican Centre London, the Holland Festival; San Francisco Symphony; the Rothko Chapel; Vienna Festival, Hebbel Theater, Berlin, the Brooklyn Academy of Music for guitarist Pat Metheny; Spoleto Festival USA, West German Radio, Cologne; Settembre Musica, Torino, the Fromm Music Foundation for clarinetist Richard Stoltzman; the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra; Betty Freeman for the Kronos Quartet; and the Festival d’Automne, Paris, for the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution.

Steve Reich’s music has been performed by major orchestras and ensembles around the world, including the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, New York Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta; the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas; The Ensemble Modern conducted by Bradley Lubman, The Ensemble Intercontemporain conducted by David Robertson, the London Sinfonietta conducted by Markus Stenz and Martyn Brabbins, the Theater of Voices conducted by Paul Hillier, the Schoenberg Ensemble conducted by Reinbert de Leeuw, the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Robert Spano; the Saint Louis Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin; the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Neal Stulberg; the BBC Symphony conducted by Peter Eötvös; and the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas.

Several noted choreographers have created dances to Steve Reich’s music, including Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker (“Fase,” 1983, set to four early works as well as”Drumming,”1998 and “Rain” set to “Music for 18 Musicians”), Jirí Kylían (“Falling Angels,” set to “Drumming Part I”), Jerome Robbins for the New York City Ballet (“Eight Lines”) and Laura Dean, who commissioned “Sextet”. That ballet, entitled “Impact,” was premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, and earned Steve Reich and Laura Dean a Bessie Award in 1986. Other major choreographers using Mr. Reich’s music include Eliot Feld, Alvin Ailey, Lar Lubovitch, Maurice Bejart, Lucinda Childs, Siobhan Davies and Richard Alston.

In 1994 Steve Reich was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, to the Bavarian Academy of Fine Arts in 1995, and, in 1999, awarded Commandeur de l’ordre des Arts et Lettres.

Sunday Playlist

Sunday, June 14, 2020 | 8:30-9:30am 
Libbey Bowl 

MATTHIAS PINTSCHER        4° quartetto darchi (Ritratto di Gesualdo”)          
                                                                                                          Calder Quartet  

SALVATORE SCIARRINO     Gesualdo senza parole (a 400 anni dalla morte) 
                                                                                                I. Libro III: XI. “Non t’amo
                                                                                                II. Libro XIV: XI. “Sparge la morte
                                                                                                III. Libro VI: I. “Se la mia morte brami
                                                                                                IV. Libro VI: II. “Beltà poi che t’assenti”  
                                                                                                          Ensemble intercontemporain (EIC) 
                                                                                                          Matthias Pintscher conductor  

J.S. BACH    Contrapunctus Nos. 1, 3, 4, and 9 from The Art of the FugueBWV 1080           
                                                                                                         Calder Quartet  

PIERRE BOULEZ    Mémoriale (explosante-fixe… Originel) 
                                                                                                         Matthias Pintscher conductor 

Sunday, June 14, 2020 | 11:00am-12:30pm 
Libbey Bowl 

EDGARD VARÈSE    Octandre 
                                                      I. Assez lent 
                                                      II. Trèsvif et nerveux 
                                                      III. Grave-Animé et jubilatoire 
                                                                                                        Ensemble intercontemporain (EIC) 

FRANK ZAPPA    The Perfect Stranger  
                                                                                                        Matthias Pintscher conductor 

GUSTAV MAHLER Das Lied von der Erde (arr. Glenn Cortese)
                                                      Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde” (“The Drinking Song of Earth’s Sorrow”) 
                                                      Der Einsame im Herbst (“The Solitary One in Autumn”) 
                                                      Von der Jugend (“Of Youth”) 
                                                      Von der Schönheit (“Of Beauty”) 
                                                      Der Trunkene im Frühling (“The Drunkard in Spring”) 
                                                      Der Abschied (“The Farewell”) 
                                                                                                        Tamara Mumford mezzo-soprano 
                                                                                                        Andrew Staples tenor   
                                                                                                        Matthias Pintscher conductor 

GABRIELA ORTIZ    Lío de 4   

ANGÉLICA NEGRÓN      Triste Silencio Programático 
                                                                                                        Calder Quartet  

STEVE REICH        Tehillim 
(Spotify Playlist)
(Apple Music)
                                                                                                        LA Phil New Music Group 
                                                                                                        Paolo Bortolameolli conductor  

STEVE REICH        Drumming 
                                                                                                        Percussion All Stars  

Saturday June 13th Virtual Concert

Press Play; Click Box Above to Go Full Screen [  ]


Concert Notes

JOHN CAGE (1912-1992) 
String Quartet in Four Parts (1950) 

Seasons of the Sublime  

 In 1946, just one year before the Ojai Music Festival was founded, John Cage had a life-changing encounter with the Indian singer and tabla player Gita Sarabhai. “She was concerned about the influence Western music was having on traditional Indian music, and she’d decided to study Western music for six months with several teachers and then return to India to do what she could to preserve the Indian traditions,” Cage wrote. He offered to teach her for free if she would in turn help him understand Indian music. 

 The mutual exchange left a profound mark on Cage, who was coping with personal crisis during these years. When Sarabhai introduced him to the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, the effect was so powerful that it “took the place of psychoanalysis,” he remarked. Cage recalled that from Sarabhai he learned that “the purpose of music is to sober and quiet the mind, thus making it susceptible to divine influences.” Along with aesthetic and metaphysical ideas from Hinduism, Cage also continued to explore his ongoing interest in Zen Buddhism and its concepts of silence and mindfulness.  

 The Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano explored what Cage called the “‘permanent emotions’ of Indian tradition … and their common tendency toward tranquility.” He turned to the Hindu understanding of the annual cycle in  his 1947 ballet The Seasons (with Lou Harrison contributing his efforts as an orchestrator). In String Quartet in Four Parts, composed between 1949 and 1950 and dedicated to Harrison, Cage again used the cycle of seasons as understood in Hinduism as a framework, tracing the phases of creation, preservation, destruction, and quiescence (which are associated with spring, summer, fall, winter, respectively).  

 Cage traveled to Europe in 1949 — where he met and was initially championed by Pierre Boulez — and started composing the quartet while in Paris during the summer: hence, the work begins with the season of “preservation.” The tempo seems to slow down gradually to near stasis for the third part (winter) and then suddenly quickens for the season of creative renewal, spring.  

 But within this familiar, four-movement context, Cage’s sound world is alien and often bewildering. The material comprises a kind of palette (Cage called it a “gamut”) of previously organized, fixed sonorities, each of which remains unchanged each time it recurs. The light touch and lack of vibrato he requests result in a weirdly archaic, not-quite-early-music sound.  

 If such austere melodies generate an aura of calm illumination, Matthias Pintscher’s Uriel is “about resonances, about the inward and outward givens of existence, about life itself,” as he observes. Hebrew titles are found throughout his oeuvre — as with bereshit and nur, both of which would have already been performed at this year’s Festival — though Uriel is also recognized in English as one of the principal figures in the hierarchy of angels — described by Milton as the “sharpest sighted spirit in all of Heaven” and cast as a tenor narrator in Haydn’s Creation 

 The Hebrew word itself means “light of God.” The archangel Uriel is additionally associated with “God’s fire,” the sun, illumination, and artistic inspiration. Pintscher wrote Uriel in 2011-12 but later made it the final panel in a chamber triptych he calls Profiles of Light. The cycle begins with Now I, a work for solo piano in homage to his great mentor Pierre Boulez on his 90th birthday, and Now II for solo cello (both from 2015).  

 The names of all three pieces derive from the work of the American abstract expressionist Barnett Newman. His essay The Sublime Is Now points to the ways in which American abstract artists “free from the weight of European culture” (in 1947) reassert the “natural desire for the exalted.”  

 Pintscher, an avid collector of visual art, was especially drawn to the essence Newman distills in his painting Uriel (1955): “The closer Newman got to death, the more luminous his work became,” he says. Pintscher chose the cello as a highly suitable instrument for depicting such existential conditions” — mediating between the inward and outward illumination signified by the angel. 

 Following Cage’s elate stasis and Pinscher’s exquisite, visionary dialogue between cello and piano, Charles Ives’s Second String Quartet stages a stunning range of confrontations. The composer supplied a terse program of his own: “Four men — who converse, discuss, argue (in re ‘Politick’), fight, shake hands, shut up — then walk up the mountainside to view the firmament.” Along the way, their discourse is a far remove from Goethe’s “conversation between four reasonable, intelligent people.”  

 Annoyed by what he perceived as the affected refinement of the classical European tradition of quartet playing, Ives produced one of his most challenging, most maverick creations in the Second Quartet. He composed it between 1911 and 1913 but drew on earlier material; the work was not premiered until 1946 at Juilliard.  

 Woven into the score as expected with Ives, is an abundance of musical quotations, both vernacular American tunes and the flotsam of Old World tradition (Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”) — all set against a sinewy atonal background. The final, transcendent movement in particular sets a snippet from Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique against “Nearer My God to Thee.” 

 Thomas May  

Program Book


Artist Bios

Calder Quartet

Benjamin Jacobson, violin
Tereza Stanislav, violin
Jonathan Moerschel, viola
Eric Byers, cello

Hailed as “Superb” and “imaginative, skillful creators” by the New York Times, the Calder Quartet captivates audiences exploring a broad spectrum of repertoire, always striving to fulfill the composer’s vision in their performances. The group’s distinctive artistry is exemplified by a musical curiosity brought to everything they perform and has led them to be called “one of America’s most satisfying – and most enterprising – quartets”. (Los Angeles Times)

Winners of the prestigious 2014 Avery Fisher Career Grant, they are widely known for the discovery, commissioning, recording and mentoring of some of today’s best emerging composers. In addition to performances of the complete Beethoven and Bartok quartets, the Calder Quartet’s dedication to commissioning new works has given rise to premieres of dozens of string quartets by established and up-and-coming composers including Peter Eötvös, Andrew Norman, Christopher Rouse, Ted Hearne and Christopher Cerrone. Inspired by innovative American artist Alexander Calder, the Calder Quartet’s desire to bring immediacy and context to the works they perform creates an artfully crafted musical experience.

Recent highlights include Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Disney Hall, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art, multiple performances at Wigmore Hall, Barbican, Salzburg Festival, Donaueschingen Festival, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Tonhalle Zurich, IRCAM Paris, Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie and the Sydney Opera House. They have performed as soloists with the Cleveland Orchestra and LA Philharmonic and have collaborated with musicians such as Thomas Adès, Peter

Eötvös, Anders Hillborg, Daniel Bjarnasson, Andrew Norman, Audrey Luna, Johannes Moser, Joshua Bell, Menahem Pressler, Joseph Kalechstein, Paul Neubauer, Iva Bittová and Edgar Meyer. In 2017, the Calder Quartet signed an exclusive, multi-disc record deal with Pentatone with their debut recording featuring Beethoven scheduled for release in Fall 2018.

The quartet has signed an exclusive, multi-disc record deal with Pentatone records. Their debut recording features the music of Beethoven and Swedish composer Anders Hillborg. Previously the quartet has appeared on Signum Classics, BMC records, Bridge Records and E1 recording the quartets of Peter Eötvös with Audrey Luna, Thomas Adès’ chamber music with the composer at the piano, early works of Terry Riley, the chamber music of Christopher Rouse, Mozart Piano concertos with Anne-Marie McDermott, and Ravel and Mozart quartets.

As a side project, the quartet has collaborated with acts such as Andrew WK, Lord Huron, Vampire Weekend, and The National. Television appearances include the Late Show with David Letterman, Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien, Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel, and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson as well as radio appearances on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, Performance Today, WQXR New York, KUSC Los Angeles, Colorado Public Radio, and NPR.

In 2011 the Calder Quartet launched a non-profit dedicated to furthering its efforts in commissioning, presenting, recording, and education, collaborating with

the Getty Museum, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and the Barbican Centre in London. The Calder Quartet formed at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music and continued studies at the Colburn Conservatory of Music with Ronald Leonard, and at the Juilliard School, receiving the Artist Diploma in Chamber Music Studies as the Juilliard Graduate Resident String Quartet. The quartet regularly conducts master classes and has taught at the Colburn School, the Oberlin School the Juilliard School, Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Cincinnati College Conservatory and USC Thornton School of Music.

Saturday Playlist

Saturday, June 13, 2020 | 8:00-9:15am 
Zalk Theater, Besant Hill School  

JOHN CAGE                          String Quartet in Four Parts 
                                                                                                  1. Quietly Flowing Along
                                                                                                  2. Slowly Rocking
                                                                                                  3. Nearly Stationary
                                                                                                  4. Quodlibet
                                                                                                  Calder Quartet  

                                                                                                  Eric Byers cello 
                                                                                                  Kevin Kwan Loucks piano 

 CHARLES IVES                       String Quartet No. 2 (Calder) 
                                                                                                  1. Discussions (Andante moderato-Andante con
                                                                                                       spirito-Adagio molto)
                                                                                                  2. Arguments (Allegro con spirito)
                                                                                                  3. The Call of the Mountains (Adagio-Andante-Adagio)
                                                                                                  Calder Quartet  

Saturday, June 13, 2020, 2020 | 11:00am – 12:30pm 
Libbey Bowl 

GYÖRGY LIGETI                    Concerto for Piano and Orchestra  
                                                                                                   Ensemble intercontemporain (EIC) 
                                                                                                   Hidéki Nagano piano  
                                                                                                   Matthias Pintscher conductor  

J.S. BACH                               Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, BWV 1049  
                                                                                                   Ojai Music Festival Ensemble 

Saturday, June 13, 2020 | 7:30-8:00pm 
Libbey Bowl  

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART  Serenade in B-flat Major, K. 361/370a (Gran Partita”)                       
                                                                                                   Members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic  

Friday June 12th Virtual Concert

Press Play; Click Box Above to Go Full Screen [  ]


Concert Notes

OLGA NEUWIRTH (b. 1968) 
Eleanor (2014-15) 

The creative act of imagining beginnings can also take a critical turn, driven by the urge to call attention to what has gone wrong. The legacy Eleanora Harris Fagan (professionally known as Billie Holiday) has been enshrouded in romanticizing myth that blots out memories of the racism she endured and that countless others still endure. Olga Neuwirth looks back to the reality she faced, as an African-American artist and woman. Her suffering is bridged by the unacceptable truth that more than 50 years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (in 1968, the year in which Neuwirth was born),  the “shameful conditions” that King denounced in his final speech have persisted.  

 Eleanor, writes Neuwirth “is a tribute to all those who have dared and still dare to voice criticism despite social and political opposition. In our oh-so-worldly times, when even faint dissent is seen as a threat, fingers are scandalously quick to pull triggers. Eleanor would, however, especially like to pay tribute to courageous women — which explains the woman’s name in the title. Here the spotlight is on the many forgotten female African-American jazz musicians from the era ‘when men ruled the beat.’” 

 Neuwirth’s encounters with racism and sexism during her various stays in the United States forced her to confront the intense contradictions at the root of American society. Its vibrant cultural pluralism — a signature of Eleanor and of Neuwirth’s music in general — attracted her: even as a youngster studying trumpet back in her native Austria, Neuwirth dreamed of following in the footsteps of Miles Davis. Her father was, in fact, a jazz pianist. In 2006, in pre-Obama America, she embarked on American Lulu, a radical new take on Alban Berg’s unfinished opera Lulu. Neuwirth set the story in the Civil Rights era, incorporating speeches from King as well as the poetry of June Jordan to dramatize the courage of those resisting systemic racism and discrimination against women. 

 Eleanor, commissioned by the Salzburg Festival, premiered in 2015, with Della Miles creating the title role as “blues singer” and Tyshawn Sorey on percussion. Neuwirth adapted material from the third act of American Lulu for Eleanor, which, as the composer explains, “tries to mount a kind of accusation from the standpoint of one person alone. Without giving the perpetrators a voice, Neuwirth develops a structure in which “the woman’s voice is surrounded and symbolically encouraged” by narrations from King’s speeches and Jordan’s poetry. The drum-kit player also becomes her “ally.”  Neuwirth provides further commentary: 

 Beginning in child, [Eleanor/Billie Holiday’s] life was marked by abuse, which left deep wounds. Wounds that made it difficult to live. Her great talent and the enormity of her soul and spirit were thus constantly fighting a sense of emptiness. Nothing was able to dull her profound nihilism.  

 Which is why I have replaced the cultivated aura of classical song with the directness of the blues. Eleanor insists on the irrevocability of pain and her own subjectivity. She struggles for freedom, treading a difficult path, yet one she has chosen. Despite the abuse, she self-confidently seeks her own form of expression, her own identity. Music and text have been conceived to unleash an unrelenting maelstrom. The musical form should exude a spontaneity that is not, as so often in ‘contemporary classical’ music, obstructed by structural limitations. Eleanor begins like a review of old blues records in the tradition of Williams, Lambert and Hendricks: with quasi instrumental jazz vocals — transformed by means of percussion, electric piano, and electric guitar into an illusory now. 

 Eleanor was a spontaneous expression of my helplessness and outrage at the racist violence and bloodshed committed in the editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo. I could not and did not want to remain silent. After the initial shock, the time had come to find the courage to reflect. The piece was already almost finished, but I did not want to let the heat of that moment dissipate, because doing so would not, as we have so often been told, lead automatically to a more balanced truth. I wanted to react right away and not later, when everything had ‘settled’ down.  

OLGA NEUWIRTH (b. 1968) 
Aello – ballet mécanomorphe (2017) 

Swerving in and out of Time 

 In a beautiful obituary she wrote for Pierre Boulez in 2016, Olga Neuwirth recalls being captivated by his “musical personality” while still a teenager growing up in the Austrian provinces. She found inspiration not only in his music but in Boulez’s “uttermost conviction that we are living in the here and now and that we must think and write music accordingly, while countering cynicism and indifference.”  

 How does the endeavor to write music that acknowledges our “living in the here and now” play out in a context that’s as self-conscious about traditions and historical connections as classical music? The program Matthias Pintscher has designed for this concert presents examples both by Neuwirth and by György Ligeti, another leading figure of the Boulez generation whose music shares her spirit of unpredictable imagination and fondness for what the absurd can disclose. The idea of the concerto itself, around which this program revolves, ranks among the most enduring genre conventions in classical art music — and has proved to be inexhaustible precisely through the innovations, the infusion of the “here and now,” by composers such as Neuwirth and Ligeti.  

 In the wake of his sole opera Le Grand Macabre (he called it an “anti-anti-opera”), which premiered in 1978, Ligeti — always skeptical of dogma and systematic approaches — endured a creative dry spell during which he struggled with finding his way forward. The Jewish-Hungarian composer ceased to produce any significant new works, though he continued making, as he put it, hundreds of sketches, only to abandon them.” During this period, he was hard at work on a commission for a piano concerto. Its genesis cost enormous creative toil — and opened the way to a way out of his dilemma.   

 By the 1980s, the postwar avant-garde’s utopian idealism had mostly faded, while the emerging ideology of post-modernism seemed, to Ligeti, to encourage a reactionary if not cynical stance of bad faith: this was the past recuperated as commodity. Ligeti did refocus his lens on the past, but with characteristic originality and quirkiness, in ways that are thrillingly unsettling. His Horn Trio of 1982, for example, is an explicit homage to the template Brahms created, while at the same time a creative swerving from the source (to borrow the literary critic Harold Bloom’s term).  

 Ligeti meanwhile persevered in several stages with the Piano Concerto. After unveiling his first version in the traditional three-movement format in 1986, he concluded that it “demanded continuation” and added two more movements, with the fourth now serving as the conceptual center of the whole work. This final version was first performed in 1988. Ligeti considered the result no less than a statement of his “artistic credo” showing his “independence from criteria of the traditional avantgarde, as well as the fashionable postmodernism.”  

 The Piano Concerto realizes what Ligeti called “new concepts of harmony and rhythm.” One of his students, the Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierra, sparked his fascination with different kinds of rhythmic complexity from Latin American and African cultures. These impulses set the stage in the opening movement, in which Ligeti splits the ensemble into two parts, each playing a different meter. The Concerto exploits “illusory rhythmics and illusory melody,” as Ligeti defines the trompe l’oreille effects of individual layers that, in concert, cause us to hear patterns that are not actually written in the score. Similarly, Ligeti is fond of tricking the ear with counterintuitive instrumentation (high instruments playing in low register and vice versa) and unexpected sounds from the ocarina and slide whistle. 

 Still another inspiration comes from the ground shared between science and art — which is the case for Neuwirth as well. Ligeti delighted in computer simulations of the Julia and Mandelbrot fractal sets. The fourth movement emulates such “self-similar” structures on a poetic level — becoming a metaphor for the general principle of remaking and renewing the past, what is given, in the here and now: “always new but however of the same,” per Ligeti. Overall, the Piano Concerto represents his “main intention as a composer”: to convey “the spell of time, the enduring its passing by, closing it in a moment of the present.” 

 Olga Neuwirth’s Aello – ballet mécanomorphe originated as part of the “Bach Brandenburg Project” commissioned by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and the Danish conductor Thomas Dausgaard. The project set out to present a contemporary counterpart to the group of six concertos that J.S. Bach presented in 1721 to the Margrave of Brandenburg-Schwedt (half-brother of Friedrich I of Prussia). Neuwirth was assigned to respond to Brandenburg Concerto No. 4. (The other five composers include Uri Caine, Brett Dean, Anders Hillborg, Steven Mackey, and Mark Anthony Turnage.)  

 Bach’s revered collection was apparently never even heard by their namesake, who lacked the richly varied musical resources and virtuoso musicians needed to realize them. Familiar as they have become, the Brandenburg Concertos themselves subvert and interrogate the conventions that had grown up around what was then the still-young genre of the Baroque concerto in three movements (fast-slow-fast). While the concertmaster had emerged as the expected virtuoso soloist for a concerto, “a whole concerto is now to be dominated by two violas, or two flutes, or even by the harpsichord,” notes Dausgaard. “Hierarchy has been dissolved and an alternative world-order presented.” 

 No. 4 in G Major is scored for strings and continuo and three soloists: violin and a pair of fiauti dolci or flauti d’echo (possibly treble recorders) —  a much-debated phrase whose interpretation played a key role in Neuwirth’s choice of instrumentation for her new work. The outer movements behave like a chamber violin concerto, as Bach assigns much virtuosity to the solo violin, with its two wind companions offering encouragement. 

 Premiered in 2018, Aello – ballet mécanomorphe at first suggests a direct bridge between the musical past and the “here and now” — Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 is, after all, its model, formally and thematically as well as in terms of instrumentation. Yet Neuwirth “swerves” from all of these parameters in wonderfully unexpected ways. Investigating what Bach may have meant by fiauti d’echo, she found a strange double-pipe instrument that led to the idea of using a pair of muted trumpets — one regular, one piccolo. (The trumpet was Neuwirth’s instrument growing up.) In another identity transformation, she turns the violin, with its leading role, into a “super-flute,” originally tailored to the virtuosa and new music champion Claire Chase. The part, which calls for flute and, in the final movement, brass flute, involves a repertoire of unusual tone productions, attacks, and even jet whistling.  

 Neuwirth also transforms the soundscape of the continuo, whose function in Bach is to provide harmonic scaffolding. Intrigued by a phrase (attributed to the French writer Colette) that Bach sounds like “a celestial sewing machine,” she makes the harpsichord into a multiple-personality small band of its own comprising a subtly amplified, classic Olivetti Lettera 22 typewriter, a reception bell, a water-filled glass, a mechanical milk frother, and a synthesizer.  

 These “modern mechanicals” in turn are evoked by the Dadaist subtitle (worthy of Ligeti), a “ballet in the form of a machine.” Aello, by contrast, is a mythic-poetic allusion to one of the three ancient Greek Harpies associated with storms, who would torment victims while leading them to the Underworld. That, however, is her reputation from a biased male perspective. In Neuwirth’s view, Aello is someone sent by the gods to restore peace, if necessary with force, and to exact punishment for crimes.” Similarly, the macho” personae of Baroque trumpets is tamed and, well, Dada-fied through muting. The entire ensemble and trio of soloists, meanwhile, are tuned to four different pitches. 

 While echoes of the Bach source clearly emerge, they do so in the way dreams are recalled. What may sound at one point like carnivalesque parody suddenly swerves into the “celestial” and mysterious — and the uncanny. The flute-goddess walks a tightrope, leading us along a path that touches on childhood memories, cultural ambiguity, and fresh-eyed wonder. 

Eleanor is my way of showing solidarity and protesting artistically against the daily pressures to conform, and against external and internal repression. 

Eleanor Text

Musicians: Start running cuz this life is hell!

Eleanor: I’ll run so fast till someone wakes me up cuz evil spirits are all around my legs.

I was looking out at the rain: 
Why did you wanna do all these mean things to me? 
Why did you wanna do, 
Why did you wanna do all these things to me?

I began to fall so low –
I didn’t have a friend and no place to go

Nobody knows you 
When you’re down and out.

Am not like a turtle, can’t hide underneath a hard shell.

Peace for my heart!

Born under a bad sign
I’ve been blue since I remember
I feel so low
cuz nobody wants me around their door

So: ev’ry day I’ve the Blues. 

Bad luck and trouble is my only friend
I’ve been on my own since I was twelve
And my whole life has been one big fight.

I wish I could see cuz am so sick and tired of being in misery.

Now listen to my tale which, sadly, is true:

They’ve destroyed my dignity.
All they said never meant a thing. I remember the promises they’ve made me.

They played with me on purpose. Hence I feel so low. 
Well, I’m not pliable enough, I see. 
Too bad words seemed so logical. – 
Like always, no reaction.
Power depersonalizes ev’rything, claiming experiences are universal-
But: we all think differently.
I don’t think we are capable of tolerance, but rather full of hate, contempt and hypocrisy.
My openness only fuels misunderstandings, cuz you all find me repulsive.
Why can’t you just be honest? – 

But you all can’t kill my free spirit! I’ve had it since I was young. Even wrote my own songs
back then. True I’m a strange person, but I never denied myself totally.
I’ve finally found myself again. But: I’ll never forget what you have done.


Sample 2 
June Jordan: First section of “Rape Is Not a Poem”. In: Passion: New Poems (1977-1980)

One day she saw them coming into the garden
where the flowers live.
The found the colors beautiful and 
they discovered the sweet smell
that the flowers held
so they stamped upon and tore apart
the garden
just because (they said)
those flowers?
They were asking for it.

Sample 4:
June Jordan

There is nothing left but drippings 
of power and 
a consummate wreck of tenderness
I want to know:
Is this what you call
Only Natural?

Sample 5
Martin Luther King Jr. : Adapted and abridged from “The Rising Tide of Racial Consciousness” (1960)

One of the sure signs of maturity is the ability to rise to the point of self-criticism. Some of us have become cynical and disillusioned. Some have so conditioned themselves to the system of segregation that they have lost that creative something called initiative. Many of us live above our means, spend money on non-essentials and frivolities, and fail to give to serious causes, organizations, and education institutions that so desperately need funds. Therefore there is a pressing need to develop a positive program through which these standards can be improved. 

Sample 6
Martin Luther King Jr. : Adapted and abridged from “The Only Road to Freedom” (1966)

There is no easy way to create a world where men and women live together, where each has his own job and house and where children receive as much education as their minds can absorb. If such a world is created in our lifetime, it will be done by people of good will.

It will be done through massive protest and by rejecting the racism, materialism and violence that has characterized Western civilization and especially by working toward a world of brotherhood, cooperation and peace.

Sample 7
Martin Luther King Jr.

Love MUST be at the forefront of our movement if it is to be a successful movement. And when we speak of love, we speak of understanding, good will toward ALL men. In struggling for human dignity we must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. We have learned through the grim realities of life and history that hate and violence solve nothing. At the end it is only destructive for everybody. 

Sample 8
Martin Luther King Jr. : Adapted and abridged from “The Current Crisis in Race Relations” (1958)

We also revolt against what I often call the myth of time. There are those who say wait for time and time will solve the problem. The people who argue this do not themselves realize that time is neutral, that it can be used constructively or destructively. This movement is based on hope. But before the victory is won, some will lose jobs, some will be called communists, and reds, merely because they believe in brotherhood. Some will be dismissed as dangerous rabble rousers and agitators merely because they’re standing up for what is right, but we shall overcome.

Sample 9
Martin Luther King Jr. : Adapted and abridged from “The Current Crisis in Race Relations” (1958)

But there are some things in our social system to which all of us ought to be maladjusted. I never intend to adjust myself to the viciousness of mob rule. I never intend to adjust myself to the evils of segregation and the crippling effects of discrimination. I never intend to adjust myself to the inequalities of an economic system which takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. I never intend to become adjusted to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating method of physical violence. The world is in desperate need of such maladjustments to bring a daybreak of freedom and justice. 

Sample 10
Martin Luther King Jr. : Adapted and abridged from his last speech, “I See the Promised Land” (1968)

That’s what the whole movement is about: we aren’t engaged in any negative protest and in any negative argument with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people/ We are saying that we are God’s children. And that we don’t have to live like we are forced to live.

I don’t know what will happen now. I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Now we’re going to march again, and we’ve got to march again, in order to put issue where it is supposed to be.

”Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness light a mighty stream”.

Remembering the vision, courage and lasting endurance of Martin Luther Kink and in memoriam Elsa Cayat

Program Book


Artist Bios

Olga Neuwirth, Composer

Olga Neuwirth was born in Graz, Austria, in 1968.

She studied at the Academy of Music in Vienna and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. During her stay in the States she also attended an art college, where she studied painting and film. Her private teachers in composition included Adriana Hölszky, Tristan Murail and Luigi Nono. She first burst onto the international scene in 1991, at the age of 22, when two of her mini-operas were performed at the Wiener Festwochen. Ever since her works have been presented worldwide.

In 1998 she was featured in two portrait concerts at the Salzburg Festival within the framework of the Next Generation series. The following year, her music theatre work Bahlamms Fest, with a libretto by Elfriede Jelinek, premiered at the Wiener Festwochen and won the Ernst Krenek prize. A year later, she wrote Clinamen/Nodus for Pierre Boulez and the London Symphony Orchestra tour. In 2002 Olga was appointed composer-in–residence at the Lucerne Festival.

With Nobel Prize winning novelist Elfriede Jelinek she has created two radio plays and three operas.
Her opera Lost Highway, based on the film by David Lynch, premiered in 2003 and won a South Bank Show Award for the production presented by English National Opera at the Young Vic in 2008.

Since Olga Neuwirth was a teenager, she has also been interested in film, literature, architecture and the visual arts. Aside from composing, she also realises sound installations, art exhibitions and short films and has written several articles and a book; one of her multi-media installations was presented at the documenta 12 in Kassel in 2007.

Olga Neuwirth’s works are multi-layered and multi-sensory. Some pieces also draw on the full range of effects of both electronic and orchestral instruments as well as video, which she began integrating into some of her works in the late 1980’s. The listener is struck by the immediacy of her music, which is often dramatic and expressive as she is particularly interested in emotions and how they relate to the brain and memory.

Many recordings of her music have been released on the label Kairos.

In 2008 she was awarded the Heidelberg Artist Prize. In 2010, as the first woman ever in the category of music, she received the Grand Austrian State Prize as well as the Louis Spohr Prize of the City of Braunschweig

In 2012 Olga Neuwirth completed two new operas while living in NYC: The Outcast on Hermann Melville, and American Lulu, a version of Alban Berg’s Lulu which was premiered in Berlin and subsequently given a new production in Bregenz, Edinburgh and London in 2013 and then in Vienna in 2014. In early 2015 she completed a film score for a silent film and a feature film by Franz/Fiala, and the orchestral work Masaot/Clocks without hands for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. It was premiered in Koeln and Vienna in May and had it’s US premiere in February 2016 at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Valerij Gergjev.

At the Salzburg Festival her Eleanor Suite for Bluessinger, drum-kit-player and ensemble was premiered in August 2015. Her 80 minutes electronic/space/ensemble piece Le Encantadas based on the acoustics of a venetian church received its premiere at Donaueschingen and at the Festival d’Automne à Paris with further performances in 2016 and 2017. She received the prestigious Roche Commission for the Lucerne Festival in 2016 for her percussion concerto Trurliade–Zone Zero and was composer-in-residence at the festival for the second time.

In march 2017 her 3D sound-installation in collaboration with IRCAM was inaugurated at Centre Pompidou in Paris for it’s 40th anniversary.

In 2017 she has collaborated with architect Peter Zumthor and Asymptote Architects.

Beside several concerts for her 50th anniversary in 2018, Lost Highway and The Outcast can be seen in new productions. Lost Highway under the direction of Yuval Sharon and The Outcast under Netia Jones.

Her new opera Orlando premiered at the Wiener Staatsoper in 2019.


Matthias Pintscher, Music Director

“It is a tremendous pleasure and incredible honor to be music director for the 2020 Ojai Festival, something I have dreamed about since moving to New York twelve years ago. I feel a combination of joy and responsibility to showcase composers and works that create something like an INVISIBLE BRIDGE between the two continents in which I am living and working: Europe and the USA. I have realized that my role as musical communicator – as composer, conductor, educator, and festival di- rector – is to actively strengthen the interactions and connections between the music of today and its heritage in the US and on the “old continent”. As a European living in New York and Paris, I want to explore this INVISIBLE BRIDGE as one of the key elements for my programming of the 2020 Ojai Festival: thoughtful, innovative, loving, provocative, and poetic. Music speaks most directly from hu- man to human, and Ojai is a perfect place to showcase this. I am excited. See you in 2020.” – Matthias Pintscher, 2020 Music Director

Matthias Pintscher is the Music Director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the world’s leading contemporary music ensemble founded by Pierre Boulez. In addition to a robust concert season in Paris, he toured extensively with them throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States this season including concerts in Berlin, Brussels, Russia, and the United States. Known equally as one of to-day’s foremost composers, Mr. Pintscher will conduct the premiere of his new work for baritone, chorus, and orchestra, performed by Georg Nigl and the Chorus and Symphonieorchester des Bayer- ischen Rundfunks at their Musica Viva festival in February 2020.

In the 2019/20 season, Mr. Pintscher makes debuts with the symphony orchestras of Montreal, Baltimore, Houston, Pittsburgh, and with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at Interlochen. He also makes his debut at the Vienna State Opera conducting the premiere of Olga Neuwirth’s new opera Orlando, and returns to the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin to conduct performances of Beat Furrer’s Violetter Schnee, which he premiered in January 2019. Re-invitations this season include the Cleveland Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and Chamber Orchestra of Europe. In summer 2020, Mr. Pintscher will serve as Music Director of the 74th Ojai Music Festival.

Highlights of Mr. Pintscher’s 2018/19 season included serving as the Season Creative Chair for the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, as Artist-in-Residence at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and con- cluding a nine-year term as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s Artist-in-Association. Last season, Mr. Pintscher made his debuts with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, and the Staatsoper Berlin, and returned to the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, the New York Philharmonic, the New World Symphony in Miami, and the Music Academy of the West. In Europe, he conducted the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the Edinburgh International Festival and returned to the Orchestre de Paris, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and Helsinki Philharmonic. Mr. Pintscher also conducted the premiere of his work Nur, a new concerto for piano and ensemble, performed by Daniel Barenboim and the Boulez Ensemble in January 2018. An enthusiastic supporter of and mentor to students and young musicians, Mr. Pintscher served as Principal Conductor of the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra from 2016- 2018 and worked with the Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic in their 2017/18 season, culminating in a concert at the Philharmonie.

Matthias Pintscher began his musical training in conducting, studying with Pierre Boulez and Peter Eötvös in his early twenties, during which time composing took a more prominent role in his life. He rapidly gained critical acclaim in both areas of activity, and continues to compose in addition to his conducting career. As a composer, Mr. Pintscher’s music is championed by some of today’s finest performing artists, orchestras, and conductors. His works have been performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Orchestre de Paris, among many others. Bärenreiter is his exclusive publisher, and recordings of his compositions can be found on Kairos, EMI, Teldec, Wergo, and Winter & Winter. Mr. Pintscher has been on the composition faculty of The Juilliard School since 2014.

Friday Playlist

Ojai Dawns 
Friday, June 12, 2020 | 8:00-9:30am 
Zalk Theater, Besant Hill School

OLGA NEUWIRTH            Eleanor  
                                                                                                Matthias Pintscher conductor
                                                                                                Lucas Niggli, percussion  
                                                                                                Della Miles, vocalist  

OLGA NEUWIRTH             Aello – ballet mécanomorphe 
                                                                                                Matthias Pintscher conductor 

OLGA NEUWIRTH           in the realms of the unreal 

FRANZ SCHUBERT         String Quartet in G Major, D. 887 
                                                                                                Calder Quartet 

Friday, June 12, 2020 | 11:00am-12:30pm 
Libbey Bowl 

GENESIS CYCLE               US Premiere 

CHAYA CZERNOWIN On the Face of the Deep (First Day) 
MARKO NIKODIJEVIC dies secundus (Second Day) 
FRANCK BEDROSSIAN Vayehi erev vayehi boker (Third Day ) 
JOAN MAGRANÉ FIGUERA Marines i boscatges (Fifth Day) 
STEFANO GERVASONI Eufaunique (Sixth Day) 
MARK ANDRE riss 1 (Seventh Day) 
TOSHIO HOSOKAWA The Flood (Eighth Day)  

World Premiere and co-commissioned by the Ensemble intercontemporain and the Ojai Music Festival  
                                                                                                 Ensemble intercontemporain (EIC) 
                                                                                                 Matthias Pintscher conductor 

Friday, June 12, 2020 | 7:30-9:00pm 
Libbey Bowl 

FELIX MENDELSSOHN   Octet in E-flat Major, Op. 20 
                                                                                                  Allegro moderato ma con fuoco 
                                                                                                  Scherzo: Allegro leggierissimo 

                                                                                                  Calder Quartet 
                                                                                                  Nathan Cole violin 
                                                                                                  Akiko Tarumoto violin 
                                                                                                  Ben Ullery viola 
                                                                                                  Dahae Kim cello 

                                                                                                 Ensemble Intercontemporain (EIC) 
                                                                                                 Matthias Pintscher conductor

Thursday June 11th Virtual Concert

Press Play; Click Box Above to Go Full Screen [  ]

Concert Notes

PIERRE BOULEZ (1925-2016) 
sur Incises (1995-98) 

bereshit (2012) 


In Search of Beginning 

sur Incises — written specifically for the musicians of EIC — occupies a lofty position in the Boulez canon. A prime exemplar of the composer’s labyrinthine creativity, it proliferated from a brief, occasional work: Incises for solo piano, which was written for the contestants in  the 1994 Umberto Micheli Piano Competition in Milan. Boulez defined Incise” as a rhythmic unit of several notes analogous to a motif.” In 1996 he expanded to Incises as a birthday gift for the music patron Paul Sacher’s 90th birthday. The labyrinth is never linear: in fact, Incises itself adapted a musical idea spelling Sacher’s name (as transcribed into the notes E-flat—A—C—B—E—D), which Boulez had introduced in Messagesquisse for his 70th birthday in 1976.  

 sur Incises went through various expansions and revisions into the vast, scintillating structure we hear for an ensemble of nine musicians. The composer continued to refer to it as a “work-in-progress.” 

 The number three plays a determinative role, beginning with three groups of three players each: three pianos, three harps, and three percussionists playing tuned instruments. Boulez initially had in mind “a kind of piano concerto” for Maurizio Pollini “although without reference to the traditional form,” he recalled. Stravinsky’s use of four percussive pianos in Les noces was among his sonic models.  

 A good deal of the work’s fascination lies in Boulez’s endlessly inventive combinations and juxtapositions of texture. The instrumental cast of characters dramatizes a kind of deconstruction of the piano as sound-producing object, which is then “reassembled,” as the musicologist Wolfgang Fink observes: “the harps represent the piano strings, while the resonators of the bells, vibraphone, and marimba represent its soundboard” and the steel drums evoke “a prepared piano.” Boulez also uses strategic spatial positioning of the players to highlight the shifting textures: as the music ricochets between groups, “you see what you hear.” 

 The percussion instruments and harps, explains the composer, “are at times completely integrated and sometimes play only a minor role.” In one section, “the pianos play an elaborate ostinato passage, thus a very strict compositional structural form while the percussionists simultaneously play very free figures. But you also find moments when this role play is divided up, such that one piano and one percussionist play the free structures while the other pianos and percussionists must follow the strict ostinato movement … Another attractive aspect is that at times you encounter very quick changes followed by sections of continuous instrumental combinations.” 

 Wanting to do away with “the idea of compartments in a work,” Boulez refers to the example of Proust, “where you find that the narration is continuous.” Even though Proust’s great novel is divided into chapters, “the work has to be read in one go. That is one of my main goals in music (for large works). I don’t want any breaks in the music, but you can introduce new ideas and abandon some other ideas, like the characters in a novel.”  

 The blank page holds terror — and endless possibility. For there is no single right beginning, but as many beginnings as can be imagined. Matthias Pintscher dramatizes the act of creation by boldly linking it with the myth of cosmogony with which the Bible begins. bereshit, the very first word of the Hebrew Torah (and of what is more widely known as the Book of Genesis), reminds us of how slippery our putatively fixed points of origin actually are.  

 That the first word of divine revelation should begin not with aleph but with the second letter of the alphabet is a matter of much discussion in Jewish teaching, as is the inaccuracy of the familiar translation “in the beginning” (there is no definite article in the construction bereshit). Properly, the phrase means “in a beginning.” Deeply fascinated by the bridges between spoken and musical language, Pintscher — who learned Hebrew while living in Israel during his 20s — remarks that “words [in Hebrew] are like islands, like energy sources” because so much is derived from “short root words” — such as the root rosh (“head”) in bereshit. Elsewhere, Pintscher likens the piece to “a great river.” 

 EIC premiered bereshit in Paris early in 2012; later that year, Pintscher introduced his two-part Chute d’Étoiles(“Falling Stars”), which similarly addresses the theme of cosmic beginnings — here, conceptualized as the Big Bang and paying homage to a sculptural installation by Anselm Kiefer.  

The musical point of departure in bereshit is also a psychological one: “as if you woke up in a strange room in the pitch darkness of night, realizing your whereabouts only after a few seconds,” according to the composer. “In this state, you attempt to make out the shapes of the space. It is a beginning of a beginning from absolute darkness and shapelessness. Very cautiously and gradually, particles disentangle and then condense, fitting together in shapes.”  

The initial sound, emerging from silence, is an incredibly soft, flutelike, sustained F in the highest register of a solo double bass. Pintscher likens the note F to a “horizon” that stretches across the composition. It gives way to percussive sounds “from which elements then detach and condense.” He describes the music as “highly organic,” the material “developing slowly, in quasi-chronological fashion.” Overall, bereshit “arose from the idea of liberating an entire compendium of sounds, gestures, rhythms, and orchestral combinations from a primordial state of sound.” Within Pintscher’s body of work, bereshit‘s concept of sound and space “ventures far beyond the chamber music-like dimension of ensemble forces.” 

Thomas May 

Program Book


Artist Bios

Matthias Pintscher, Music Director

“It is a tremendous pleasure and incredible honor to be music director for the 2020 Ojai Festival, something I have dreamed about since moving to New York twelve years ago. I feel a combination of joy and responsibility to showcase composers and works that create something like an INVISIBLE BRIDGE between the two continents in which I am living and working: Europe and the USA. I have realized that my role as musical communicator – as composer, conductor, educator, and festival di- rector – is to actively strengthen the interactions and connections between the music of today and its heritage in the US and on the “old continent”. As a European living in New York and Paris, I want to explore this INVISIBLE BRIDGE as one of the key elements for my programming of the 2020 Ojai Festival: thoughtful, innovative, loving, provocative, and poetic. Music speaks most directly from hu- man to human, and Ojai is a perfect place to showcase this. I am excited. See you in 2020.” – Matthias Pintscher, 2020 Music Director

Matthias Pintscher is the Music Director of the Ensemble Intercontemporain, the world’s leading contemporary music ensemble founded by Pierre Boulez. In addition to a robust concert season in Paris, he toured extensively with them throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States this season including concerts in Berlin, Brussels, Russia, and the United States. Known equally as one of to-day’s foremost composers, Mr. Pintscher will conduct the premiere of his new work for baritone, chorus, and orchestra, performed by Georg Nigl and the Chorus and Symphonieorchester des Bayer- ischen Rundfunks at their Musica Viva festival in February 2020.

In the 2019/20 season, Mr. Pintscher makes debuts with the symphony orchestras of Montreal, Baltimore, Houston, Pittsburgh, and with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra at Interlochen. He also makes his debut at the Vienna State Opera conducting the premiere of Olga Neuwirth’s new opera Orlando, and returns to the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin to conduct performances of Beat Furrer’s Violetter Schnee, which he premiered in January 2019. Re-invitations this season include the Cleveland Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and Chamber Orchestra of Europe. In summer 2020, Mr. Pintscher will serve as Music Director of the 74th Ojai Music Festival.

Highlights of Mr. Pintscher’s 2018/19 season included serving as the Season Creative Chair for the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, as Artist-in-Residence at the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and con- cluding a nine-year term as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s Artist-in-Association. Last season, Mr. Pintscher made his debuts with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, and the Staatsoper Berlin, and returned to the symphony orchestras of Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, the New York Philharmonic, the New World Symphony in Miami, and the Music Academy of the West. In Europe, he conducted the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the Edinburgh International Festival and returned to the Orchestre de Paris, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and Helsinki Philharmonic. Mr. Pintscher also conducted the premiere of his work Nur, a new concerto for piano and ensemble, performed by Daniel Barenboim and the Boulez Ensemble in January 2018. An enthusiastic supporter of and mentor to students and young musicians, Mr. Pintscher served as Principal Conductor of the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra from 2016- 2018 and worked with the Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic in their 2017/18 season, culminating in a concert at the Philharmonie.

Matthias Pintscher began his musical training in conducting, studying with Pierre Boulez and Peter Eötvös in his early twenties, during which time composing took a more prominent role in his life. He rapidly gained critical acclaim in both areas of activity, and continues to compose in addition to his conducting career. As a composer, Mr. Pintscher’s music is championed by some of today’s finest performing artists, orchestras, and conductors. His works have been performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Orchestre de Paris, among many others. Bärenreiter is his exclusive publisher, and recordings of his compositions can be found on Kairos, EMI, Teldec, Wergo, and Winter & Winter. Mr. Pintscher has been on the composition faculty of The Juilliard School since 2014.

Thursday Playlist

UNSUK CHIN                    Gougalōn 
                                                             Ensemble intercontemporain (EIC) 
                                                             Matthias Pintscher conductor  

                                                             Matthias Pintscher conductor       

PIERRE BOULEZ               sur Incises  
                                                             Ensemble intercontemporain (EIC) 

Support the Music you Love

“It saddens us to miss this year’s event, however, we understand the need to cancel. The efforts the organization puts into its success pales in the face of our humble contribution.”   “The effort that it takes for all of you to make this week happen every year behind the scenes is just unimaginable. Please …

2020 Festival T-Shirts

The Ojai Music Festival is often cited as a creative laboratory for artists and audiences, and our famously engaged and adventurous patrons are key to each Festival experience. After the cancellation of the 74th Festival, we appreciated the wonderful messages of support from our patrons. Now, we will honor the unrealized Festival, June 11 to 14, 2020, with virtual offerings on our website, OjaiFestival.org. In addition to joining us online for these events, purchase a commemorative shirt to add to your collection! We are beyond grateful to each and every person who comprises our Festival family. Thank you for your support! (Deadline to order is June 15, 2020.)

Click Here to Purchase > 

Ojai Recipes

In an effort to evoke some of the experience we all love and are missing at this moment, we are sharing a few recipes from wonderful Ojai restaurants and chefs. Click the tabs below.

Stone Fruit and Tomato Gazpacho

Stone Fruit and Tomato Gazpacho 
By Scott Daigre and Jenn Garbee 


1 pound peaches or nectarines, peeled and cut into small chunks 

1 large slicing cucumber or 3 small Persian cucumbers, peeled and cut into small chunks 

½ medium red onion, roughly chopped 

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and roughly chopped to taste  

2 pounds juicy tomatoes, cut into chunks, plus 1 medium ripe tomato for serving  

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving 

1-1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar  

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, more to taste  

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper  

6 lime wedges, for serving  

2 tablespoons chopped basil or parsley, both if you have them 


  1. Place ¼ cup each of chopped peaches and cucumbers, 2 tablespoons red onion, and 1 teaspoon of jalapeno in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  
  1. Place the 2 pounds of tomatoes, remaining peaches, cucumber, red onion, and jalapeno in a blender and puree until the gazpacho is as smooth as you’d like. (If you have a small blender, you may need to do this in batches.) Pour the gazpacho into a large bowl and add the olive oil, cider vinegar, lime juice, and a ¾ tsp. each of salt and pepper. Chill for at least two hours or overnight. Taste again after chilling and add additional lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. 
  1. To serve, finely dice the reserved peaches, cucumbers, red onion, jalapeno, and remaining tomato. Add the basil or parsley (or both), mix to combine, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the chilled gazpacho into bowl, top with tomato-peach salsa, and drizzle with olive oil.  

Prime pick: use juicy tomatoes such as Jaune Flamme, Red Boar, Missouri Pink Love Apple, or Chocolate Stripes! 

Learn more about Scott Daigre and Tomatomania: https://www.facebook.com/TomatomaniaHQ/ 








Chili Garlic Shrimp

By Azu  


10 shrimp, shelled and veined, tails on. 

1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 tablespoon crushed garlic  

1 tablespoon chopped parsley  

3 tablespoons butter 

1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes  

1/4 cup white wine 


  1. In medium hot pan heat olive oil then add shrimp.  
  1. Sauté 1 minute, flip shrimp. 
  1. Add garlic and chili flakes, sauté 1 minute 
  1. Add white wine and butter, simmer 1 minute  
  1. Add chopped parsley 

Plate in a bowl and serve with sourdough  
Serves 2 

 About Azu 
Azu was incorporated in November 2000 by Laurel Moore. She bought Bill Bakers bakery at the same time. Azu opened its doors in early 2001. 

Laurel was inspired by her many trips to Spain and Italy. Azu started small, the original idea was fresh baked bread, panini and gelato. Soon after opening for just breakfast and lunch, Laurel was asked repeatedly to be open for dinner. She converted some old baking space into the dining room. 

 Executive Chef and Owner Laurel Moore is the driving force behind Azu restaurant and a style of food critics have called lively, inventive, and comfortable all at once. A veteran of Hollywood, Chef Moore travelled the world as a still photographer, working on such films as Pretty in Pink and The Big Red One. Establishing Azu in 2001 Chef Moore undertook a singular vision, to take the best of what the world has to offer, and translate it through a locally sourced, regionally relevant palate.  

 Daughter of Laurel and General Manager, Elizabeth Haffner, joined Azu in 2006. Having worked as a costume designer for film in Los Angeles and abroad, Elizabeth journeyed to Ojai, CA to join her mother in creating a unique destination restaurant, on par with her adventurous tastes, and at home in the magical valley of Ojai. Elizabeth tirelessly executes her vision of quality and service on a daily basis, making Azu a true experience in simple elegance. 

 Jeremy Haffner, Husband to Elizabeth, in a joint venture with Laurel founded Ojai Valley Brewery in 2015. Previous to becoming the Brewmaster and building a nano brewery Jeremy toured the world with his rock band, Oedipus. Jeremy was also the gelato master and a chef at Azu restaurant throughout the years in between touring. He has brought his incredible palate and artistic vision to the Brewery which focuses on local foraged and farmed ingredients with beers designed to enjoy in the hot Ojai climate. 


Sourdough Bread

Claud Mann’s Ojai Rotie Sourdough Bread

(Special for Friends of The Ojai Music Festival) 

For the Leaven: 

  • 100 grams each bread flour and whole wheat flour 
  • 200 Grams filtered water 
  • Recently fed sourdough starter (Get it free from Ojai Rotie!) 

For the Bread

  • 250 grams mature leaven (from above) 
  • 800 grams organic bread flour or all-purpose flour 
  • 150 grams organic whole-wheat flour or whole spelt flour 
  • 50 grams organic dark rye flour 
  • 25 grams fine sea salt 
  • 50/50 rice flour/bread flour mix for sprinkling in baskets, as needed 
  • Filtered water, as needed 
  • Small digital scale (you will get more consistent results measuring by weight rather than using volume measures) 
  • Large and medium mixing bowls 
  • Clean tea towels (not terrycloth) 
  • Bench knife, AKA dough scraper  
  • 6-8 quart Dutch oven with tight fitting lid 

Please keep in mind that this sourdough recipe gives a general sequence and timeline, but works best when adapted to meet your own individual equipment and conditions. A number of variables, like room temperature, humidity, starter strength, flour type, water quality and more will affect your final results. The important thing is to enjoy the process and keep experimenting until you bake a loaf you love. 

Day 1:  

Measure 200 grams of slightly warm water into a clean mixing bowl. Add 1-2 tablespoons of starter and mix well. Add 100 grams each of bread flour and whole-wheat flour and stir with a wooden spoon until no large lumps remain. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let sit for 8-12 hours until the mixture has doubled in size and various sized bubbles blanket the surface. (An easy way to gauge the growth of the leaven is by marking the level on the outside of the bowl before you leave it to ferment.) Reserve 4 tablespoons of starter for feeding future starter as described in the notes below. After feeding, use any remaining starter to make sourdough pancakes. Yum. 

Day 2: Check the maturity of the leaven by dropping a small bit of it into a bowl of room-temperature water; if it floats to the surface, the leaven is ready. If it doesn’t, set it aside to ferment a little longer. 

In a large glass, ceramic or stainless bowl, combine 250 grams of the mature leaven with 725 grams of warm water and mix well with your hands or a wooden spoon.  

Add the bread flour, whole-wheat flour and rye flour and mix together with one hand until all the flour has been moistened and no large lumps remain. Leave the other hand clean in case you get a phone call or need to scratch your nose. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap or a clean tea towel and let rest 30 minutes. (This step is called Autolyse and develops dough that’s easier to shape, and more importantly, gives you bread with better texture, rise and flavor.) 

After the 30-minute autolyse, sprinkle the sea salt over the dough and moisten with 50 grams warm water. (I sometimes use a spray bottle to moisten the salt.) Incorporate the salt into the dough by squeezing the dough through your fists until no salt granules can be felt. Don’t worry if the dough feels like its coming apart; it will be fine. Cover bowl again with a towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a fairly warm spot for 30 minutes.  

You may have noted that there has been no traditional “kneading” yet. There will not be. Instead you are going to stretch and fold the dough every 30 minutes for the next couple of hours. This process helps build strength and extensibility in the dough, and encourages a beautiful, uneven crumb structure. It also gives you a chance to catch-up on your email. 

Fill a container with clean water and place near your work area and place the bowl with the dough in front of you. Dip both hands into the water; grab the bottom of the dough mass closest to you with both hands, and then slowly and gently pull and stretch the dough upwards and away from you, and then fold it over against the opposite edge. Try to do this without tearing the dough. Do this three more times, rotating the bowl one-quarter turn between each stretch. Flip the dough over and gently lift to round the edges. Cover with a clean towel and set aside. 

Repeat this process each 30-minutes for an additional  2 to 2-1/2 hours. During this period the dough will be building strength through gluten development, growing enzymes, increasing in volume and developing small pockets of gas, causing it to become billowy. Knowing when to complete this process and move on to shaping takes some trial and error. Once it has increased in size by 50% you should be ready to go to the next step. 

Transfer dough to clean, lightly floured work surface and divide into 2 equal pieces. Pre-shape the loaves by dusting lightly with flour and then use your cupped hands or a bench knife to gently shape each piece into a loose round by pulling gently towards you on the countertop to create surface tension. Cover with a towel, and let rest 30 minutes. 

While the dough is resting, lightly dust two10” proofing baskets with the rice flour mixture and set aside. If you do not have proofing baskets (and really, who does?) Line two medium mixing bowls with lint free towels (not terrycloth), dust liberally with the rice flour mixture and set aside. 

Lightly dust both the pre-shaped rounds with flour. Use your dough scraper to flip one over and onto the work surface so floured top is now facing down and lightly pat into a disc. Working around the circumference of the dough, begin pulling the edges of the disc towards the center at 12 o’clock, 6 o’clock 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock.  

Turn the disc over so that the folds are now on the bottom; cup your hands securely and pull the dough towards you, dragging the edge of the dough firmly against the counter to create pronounced surface tension. Rotate the dough one-quarter turn and repeat dragging and pulling the edges until the dough begins to form a ball shape with a smooth, taut outer ‘skin’. Repeat this process with the second round. 

Carefully place each dough ball in the prepared basket or lined mixing bowl seam-side up and dust with the rice flour mixture to avoid sticking. Slip each proofing basket or bowl into a large, plastic bag to protect it from drying out and leave in the refrigerator 10-12 hours to cold rise. The dough should have almost doubled in size. (Alternatively you may allow the bread to rise at 75F-80F for 1-2 hours, but in my opinion, flavor, color and texture are superior with a long cold rise.)  

About 45-minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to the lower third of the oven. Place Dutch oven and lid on rack; preheat oven to 500 degrees. Carefully remove pot from oven, place on stovetop and remove lid. Gently turn one loaf into the hot Dutch oven seam-side down. (The seam side was facing up in the proofing basket.) 

Use a razor blade or sharp knife to slash the top of the loaf (to tell the steam where to go and to encourage expansion); cover tightly and immediately return the pot the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 450 degrees and bake covered for 20 minutes. Carefully remove lid (watch for steam burns!) and continue to bake until loaf is deep mahogany 15-25 minutes longer. 

Carefully remove bread from pot; The bottom of the loaf should sound hollow when thumped. Transfer to wire rack and cool at least 30 minutes before slicing if you can stand to wait that long.  

Makes two 10-inch loaves 

The Often Confusing Topic of Starter Management  

Once you have an active and viable sourdough starter, you’ll need to maintain it regularly to keep it happy. If you are a once-a-week baker, plan on feeding and then storing it in the fridge until a day before baking. If you bake everyday, you can keep your starter at room temperature and feed it once or twice a day, depending on how warm your kitchen is. When you feed your starter, combine 3 or 4 tablespoons of your existing starter with equal weights of flour and water. That equates to about 2/3 cup of water for 1 cup of flour Always mix until there are no clumps or dry bits of flour present 

Some General Tips and Guidelines:  

  • Once you have a healthy starter, it will rise & fall predictably like the tide as it consumes the nutrients in the flour. Try to time the feeding schedule to occur after it has risen, rather than after it has fallen. 


  • If your tap water contains high chlorine levels, use filtered water or allow the water sit out on the counter overnight before using. Get used to observing the characteristics of your starter at each phase and become familiar with its behavior by connecting its smell and appearance with how it is affecting your final product. 
  • Many bakers prefer storing starter in a container that’s not completely airtight. An easy way is to use a Ball jar with the rubber gasket removed. 
  • Some factors that affect fermentation rate and starter activity are water temperature, amount of mature starter used, flour selection (whole grain, organic flours increase fermentation activity) humidity and ambient temperature. If your starter seems either sluggish or overactive, increase any of these to speed it or decrease to slow down the activity.  

About Claud Mann
Claud Mann has worked as a culinary professional for more than 30 years, including stints at Nicola in Los Angeles, Project Open Hand inS.F.andExecutive Chef at thePalmillaHotel in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Claud is former co-publisher of the James Beard Award Winning, Edible Ojai and Ventura County Magazine and a founding board member of FoodForThought–The Ojai Healthy Schools Project. Claud also co-created, andwas on-air host for TBS’s long-running television program, Dinner & A Movie. (Described as of the 100 reasons to watch TV by Rolling Stone Magazine.) Mann has also worked closely with The Orfalea Foundation’s School Food Initiative and Santa Barbara Unified to bring fresh ingredients and scratch cooking to public school students in Santa Barbara County. His organic sourdough has been selling like hotcakes at the Ojai Farmers’ Market for ages. Most recently Claud is co-owner and baker at OjaiRotieRestaurant in Ojai, CA. 


Pixie Smash


by Sam Guy, the Vine of Ojai  


2 oz. Bourbon 

.5 oz Honey Turmeric Syrup (equal parts honey and water, 4 knobs of turmeric sliced and simmered in honey-water solution) 

.25 0z Lemon Juice 

1.5 oz Pixie Tangerine Juice


  1. Combine in shaker 
  1. Shake and strain over fresh ice 
  1. Garnish with pixie wheel.  


About The Vine 
Here at The Vine you’ll find inviting atmosphere, amazing staff, the best regulars Ojai has to offer, and tasty food and drinks. Community runs through everything we do. 

Butter Cookies

B U T T E R  C O O K I E S

By Jeri Oshima, Four Worlds  
These are one of my favorite cookies, and they have often appeared on the dessert platters in the Ojai Music Festival Lounge during the weekend.  


2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 

3/4-teaspoon sea salt 

1 cup best quality unsalted cultured butter, at room temperature 

2/3 cup granulated sugar 

1 large egg yolk 

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract) 

about 1/3 cup coarse sugar for rolling 


  1. Sift together dry ingredients
  2. In a bowl of a stand mixer, with paddle attachment, combine and beat together, butter and sugar until light and fluffy
  3. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla bean paste, until combined
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients, until dough just comes together – don’t overmix
  5. Roll dough into two logs, each about 8” long
  6. Roll each log in the sugar, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

  1. Unwrap dough and slice into 1/3” slices
  2. Arrange on cookie sheets, lined with parchment paper, at least 1“ apart
  3. Bake until coolies are golden and start to brown around the edges, about 16 minutes

Remove cookies from oven, let cool on a rack. Store in airtight container, up to a week. 

[Makes about 50] 

F O U R  W O R L D S  /  C H E F  J E R I  O S H I M A 
Jeri Oshima has been a caterer and private chef in Ojai for over 15 years.   She has cooked in Washington, DC, New York, and Whistler, British Columbia. She splits her time now between Ojai, California and Montreal, Quebec,  creating a food style and presentation that incorporates a fusion of cultures and  cuisines, from the modern French to the California fresh to the rustic Japanese of  her family.  Follow Four Worlds and Jeri Oshima on instagram : fourworlds4u 

Views of Ojai

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

Thanks to the Ojai Chamber of Commerce for these local resources.
See  local restaurants >
See shops >
See hotels >

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

The Art of Transitions


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

photo by Robert Millard

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

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

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


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

A Message on the Cancellation of the 2020 Festival


Dear Friends,

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

On behalf of my Board colleagues, CEO Jamie Bennett, and the artistic and administrative teams, we are deeply saddened that during this unprecedented uncertainty, this decision is not just a necessary and right step, it is the only step. As we were monitoring the COVID-19 crisis over these last several weeks, we considered the unpredictability of travel as well as the safety and comfort of our artists and patrons. It has also become clear that the institution cannot shoulder the projected financial burden due to the forecasted drop in Festival revenue and increase in Festival expenses.  This unfortunate immediate cancellation is necessitated by our ultimate goal to ensure that the Ojai Music Festival continues to inspire audiences and artists for generations to come.

Chad Smith shared his thoughts with us, “I’m gutted that this extraordinary festival will go silent this June for the first time in its history. Matthias’ vision for his Festival embodied Ojai’s commitment to adventurous music making and to introducing virtuosic artists to our community.  On behalf of all of us, we share a common feeling of profound disappointment about this necessary cancellation.  Ojai’s next Artistic Director, my friend Ara Guzelimian is already hard at work with 2021 Music Director John Adams. Difficult as this is now, I know the Festival will emerge from this challenging moment, and I am eager to see you all in Ojai in June 2021 when we will celebrate 75 years of the world’s most adventurous music-making in this uniquely idyllic place.”

We have communicated our decision to our collaborators, including artists and the production team. We will ensure that the many volunteers whose contributions are incalculable – from ushers to those who provide housing – are contacted directly in the coming days. Our administrative team will reach out to Ojai business partners who are a critical part of the fabric of our Festival experience each year.

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

The Ojai Music Festival is often cited as a creative laboratory for artists and audiences, and our famously engaged and adventurous patrons are key to each Festival experience. For those who have purchased series tickets to the 2020 Festival, we ask you to consider a tax-deductible donation of the value of your tickets to the Ojai Music Festival, which will empower us to continue to keep the Festival moving forward. Alternatively, you may use the value of 2020 tickets toward 2021 Festival ticket purchases, or we will issue refunds. Please call anyone of our staff members (see contact numbers below) for assistance. We expect some volume of calls, and thank you for your patience as we navigate this challenging time.

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

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

With deep gratitude,


Jerry Eberhardt 
Chairman of the Board

Jamie Bennett: 323.481.2750 jbennett@ojaifestival.org 
Gina Gutierrez: 805.646.2181 ggutierrez@ojaifestival.org
Nick Svorinich: 805.646.2053 nsvorinich@ojaifestival.org 
Anna Wagner: 805.646.3178 awagner@ojaifestival.org 

Song & Play Thursday with Ms. Laura

Click on tabs below this video to view weekly music lessons.


The Festival’s BRAVO music education and community proudly presents Song & Play Thursday, led by Laura Walter, the Festival’s education coordinator.

Based on the nationally well-regarded curriculum of Education Through Music, the short videos will provide children and families a language based music program in which song, movement and interactive play promote emotional, social, cognitive and musical development. Each week, the videos and curriculum notes will be available for free on the Festival’s website.

These song experience games are designed to improve listening skills, memory, and critical thinking. Singing releases endorphins. Play increases intelligence. These video sessions are an extension of what the Ojai Music Festival’s BRAVO program offers in all of the Ojai classrooms with Transitional Kindergarten through 3rd grade during the school year.


  • Develop eye contact
  • Enrich functional vocabulary and language skills
  • Interpret the written symbols in music helps with reading skills
  • Activities are designed to be so fun that children are not only excited to get a turn, but equally excited when someone else gets a turn
  • Work our memory and our visual and movement centers
  • Connects brain centers — imagination, sequencing, and spatial memory

Ours is a program based on play, defined as the psychological state of flow or creativity. We get absorbed in what we are doing, and can’t wait to try it again. Our failures are seen as part of the fun. We sing partner songs and in canon, creating beautiful sounds ourselves. The children always ask if we can do that again! Community is so important for emotional growth, and these activities, help us stay connected.

Special Thanks to

Meet Ms. Laura!

My name is Laura Walter and I am the Bravo Coordinator for the Ojai Music Festival. We are excited about our new, online videos. We’ll explore some secret songs, solfegge using hand signs, rhythmic patterns, and ideas for you to play with your own family. These song experience games of Education Through Music improve listening skills, memory, and critical thinking. Singing releases endorphins. Play increases intelligence.

These video sessions are an extension of what I have played in all of the Ojai classrooms with Transitional Kindergarten through 3rd grade. We use a lot of eye contact. Giggling happens. And then it’s so interesting; our singing becomes stronger!

We move a lot. Our learning is active. We sing folk songs, which enrich functional vocabulary and language skills. Interpreting the written symbols in music helps children with reading skills.

Community is so important for emotional growth. When we make music together, we improve self-regulation. Activities are designed to be so fun that children are not only excited to get a turn, but equally excited when someone else gets a turn!

When we puzzle over a secret song, our brains are looking for an auditory match, working our memory and our visual and movement centers. You will notice how good it feels to try to hear a secret song, after you know the answer. That’s because the activity connects brain centers—imagination, sequencing and spatial memory.

Ours is a program based on play, defined as the psychological state of flow or creativity. We get absorbed in what we are doing, and can’t wait to try it again. Our failures are seen as part of the fun. We sing partner songs and in canon, creating beautiful sounds ourselves. The children always ask if we can do that again!

Lesson 1, 4/16/20

Study the rhyming structure of this song and then make up your own. For instance, notice the underlined rhyming words below:
There’s a penny in my hand
It will travel through the land 
Is it here, is it there?
It will travel everywhere.

To keep this rhyming scheme you might sing:
There’s a penny on this pier
It will travel without fear
Is it slim, can it swim?
It will travel on a whim

If you email your own verses to us, I will sing them!
Send your verses to: Lwalter@ojaifestival.org

These are some great student verses of Kitty Casket that we have sung and played in class. I appreciate the rhyming ideas! In class we looked at the difference between rhyming (end of the words sounding alike) and alliteration (words starting with like sounds). These are critical tools in fluency of reading. 

Kitty Casket—the game. Pure delight! See how many you can get to join in!

Special Thanks To

Lesson 2, 4/23/20

We start with connecting and gathering our attention. The secret song represents the rhythm to a song the children have sung and played many times. By having the rhythm prompt, and then adding clues, we are causing the auditory system to look for a match in our memory. Penny is such a great song for playfulness, and being okay with not getting everything correct, which is so important for life success. Grab a penny and play! Feel free to print the rhythm page and follow, or add the words.




This childhood staple by Mozart is great fun to sing and play. Notice the clues that I give are concrete and words that they know; words that will spark a picture in their minds. This increases memory retrieval skills. When we play in the classroom, all eyes are closed while one child hides the star, leaving just one part visible. We must keep hope alive! They then choose a classmate to go look for it while we sing the song. They must be back by the end of the song. This skill of predicting when the song will end, (while being busy looking for it), is vital to reading fluency. They then pick a friend to go with them. This continues until the star is found. Some days the whole class has gone to look and they all have to be back by the end of the song. The song informs their behavior in this way, and they are completely self-monitoring without need of adults telling them what to do. The failure to find the star is never seen as a failure by the child, but rather as further effort, approached through play, and adding their friends. It’s really wonderful to see.




Local 3rd graders have been learning this cup song, and pairing it with the song of Uncle Joe. We have played the game of Uncle Joe for 4 months or so before I bring the cups out. The game is so enjoyable in itself, that to add the cups definitely has a *wow* factor!




Want to see a group of children engaged and happy to play cooperatively? Want to see the importance of movement in learning? Want to hear a group of 6 year-olds all singing in tune? Here they are! Every one of them has a sense of belonging and purpose in this class. Playing I Wrote a Letter encourages them to grow the social skill of being happy for someone else to get a turn. This is directly responsible for the strength of their singing, and their eventual synchronization of sound without any specific instruction about singing together from the teacher. 
“I wrote a letter to my love and on the way I lost it.
A little doggie picked it up and put it in his pocket.
Oh, he won’t bite me and he won’t bite you, he’ll bite the one who’s got it.
So drop it, so drop it, it must be dropped by now.”


Lesson 3, 4/30/20

Children often know this song from singing around the campfire. The notes of the scale have corresponding hand signs: do, re, mi, fa, so, la and ti. These hand signs were developed by Sarah Glover in the 1700’s in England to help her choir members learn to read music. John Curwen popularized them, and Kodaly also integrated them into his teaching method. Often when we sing the songs, we use the hand signs to indicate the notes. We are learning about pitch relationships.


If you have family members at home, have them sit in a circle and if you want more, use some stuffed animals also! You can jump or skip together. This game has been around for generations. It’s a hoot to have a whole group skipping together. It gets the whole class excited. Because the song chooses their partner (when we sing the word “partner”), the students are always surprised with who they get. We are making our social circle bigger. When we sing this at the Gables of Ojai Senior Living, the residents remember this from their own childhoods, saying, “We are so happy that children still sing this song.” The proprioceptive experience gained from skipping with a partner aids in brain development, and crossing the midline aids in the bi-hemispheric learning of the brain.


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


In our classrooms, we use children to stand in for the sun, the moon, and the chimney pot. We challenge ourselves to skip around them. Sometimes they are sneaky and change positions. We also try to get back to our spot by the end of the song; the “boom”. As our actions and movements line up with the beginning and ending of the song, we are practicing the reading skill of paying attention to the points of enclosure. Actions and sounds coincide and lead us to meaning.

Lesson 4, 5/7/20

This week we take a look at learning to read notes, singing our names to study rhythm, and looking at some children’s maps. We also include a video showing the engagement of children from Day 1.

Our first music class of the year. This is how I meet the children, by finding out their names and asking for their ideas. Listen to the enthusiasm of their singing right from the first day! Notice the kindness used as guidance for self-control.


Knowing each other’s names is one of the most honoring actions that we can take. We sing about our names! We study the rhythm and accents of the names. This is a musical skill, as well as a reading skill. Having a strong auditory system is important for reading, music, and listening.


Once we have played the game and gotten our bodies moving and involved, we take a look at the Tracks for Reading which includes different verses. The melody stays the same. This helps immensely in reading, because the beginning reader can still follow along on the map. New words overlay the same tune, making it familiar. The grammar also retains the same structure and helps with comprehension. It’s a wonderful way to boost reading skills! These books can be found online at the Richards Institute of Education and Research.

We really enjoy making our own maps of the songs. The children create their own abstract representation of the song. We notice patterns together. We practice drawing in the air first. Any pattern is correct because it is that person’s version of the song. This toggling back and forth between abstract and concrete is not only healthy for the brain, the students are delighted and completely absorbed in doing it. Singing the song is concrete, drawing in the air is abstract, putting it on paper makes it concrete with abstract ideas, singing it from their map makes it concrete again, following someone else’s map is abstract until it is concrete again. This is the process of reading music, which is, after all, an abstract representation of sound.


We love matching our note of the day to the scale above and trying to find the note’s name. We pretend it’s an amazing secret, which cracks us all up while everyone wants to make a guess, so they whisper it!

Lesson 5, 5/14/20

This week we take a look at play and imagination and how music adds to that. We make up some verses with rhymes. And we put the call out for pretend haircuts!
Sally Tracks for Reading
Having a robust auditory system is so important for reading, and communication. We study the rhyme structure and make up our own verses. We keep changing key, or moving the starting pitch for the songs, and then our voices adjust. It’s ear training with no stress! Just joy. The book can be ordered from the Richards Institute of Education and Research.
Letter Rhythm
Playing this game is one of our favorites. We sit in a circle and one child drops a letter while we hide our eyes. The chosen child gets up and chases the letter dropper. What this song game does for children is pretty incredible—we start to enjoy another’s turn just as much as getting one ourselves. Here we learn empathy through play. We often turn to a rhythmic representation of the song (find here), and discover the different sounds by adding body movements for distinct rhythmic notes.

Haircut Stuffies

To the brain, intelligence is the same as imagination, which is the same as play. We can make pretend scissors with our own body, or as a group. Once the ideas get flowing, the children don’t want to stop. Play keeps internal motivation going. Notice the use of expansive vocabulary. If you send us a video of your child giving a pretend haircut, we would love it!
Note of the Day–E
Today we can match our note, or figure it out using our “shortcut”—the standard Every Good Boy Does Fine for the notes on lines, and F-A-C-E for the notes on the spaces.    

Lesson 6, 5/21/20

Today we look at the importance of memory in learning, and the importance of play in building intelligence.

Secret song Haircut + Rhythm Page

After the students have sung and played this game, so much that it is internalized and accessed automatically, we present it as a secret song. We don’t want to ask the brain to do this too soon, but only after lots of play and sensory experience. Then the secret part of puzzling over it is enjoyable, and do-able. The brain starts searching its memory banks for a match. When the memory is engaged, learning is happening. We easily translate the song into its rhythms. Since we have the melody, we can now learn the solfegge syllables (do, re, mi, etc.) as well. Going back and forth between words, rhythm, and solfegge keeps the brain hopping and the kids love doing this!

Haircut Videos

In music, we want to build 3 habits in children: cooperation, participation, and the habit of singing. Here are some at-home examples of families playing Johnny Get Your Haircut.


We have birds and windows all over the place. We can have windows made out of our legs, and birds trying to navigate through and under. This sensory experience of the song is stored in more brain areas for easier retrieval. We want our learning to be multi-modal: auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile. A robust memory aids in the development of intelligence.

Note of the Day—C

The challenge grows as we rely on our shortcut and don’t have the “scale” up for reference anymore!         

Lesson 7, 5/28/20

There are many different methods of symbolizing sound. The process of interpreting symbols, semiotic function, is important for reading, math, and music. This week we also notice how we build resiliency—the balance between challenge and skill, always with an eye towards pro-social behaviors of inclusivity, kindness, taking turns, and the opportunity to be moved by shared experience instead of external rewards.

Video 4:53 One Little Elephant

Here we have elephants balancing on a spider web. We symbolize the song by representing elephants ourselves. When the children join me, it’s pretty exciting! We build the spider web together, and then gather our elephants by asking the person closest to us at the end of the song to join. Socially, this promotes children choosing new friends and being inclusive. We also have to stay on the web and balance. Spatial awareness lives mostly in the right brain hemisphere. Keeping track of the sequence and number of elephants lives mostly in the left. By playing and moving, we are integrating brain function. And then, of course, the math gets so complex, and the students love this part! The joy of resiliency!

Bluebird Form and Map

It is quite enjoyable to match up a written symbol with a corresponding sound. Noticing patterns is what the brain loves to do! Here we take a look at the beat and the various ways to explore that. We can have a slow, medium, or fast beat while the tempo of the song stays the same. These form books are available through the Richards Institute of Education and Research.


When I have the room set up for Frog’s in the Meadow, the children walk in and instantly know what song game we are going to play. I hear squeals of delight! One child becomes the frog and does the hiding while everyone sings. I change the starting pitches often, which provides ear training without stress. Their voices automatically adjust to singing in tune this way. In older grades we have up to 5 frogs hiding at once. Finding the frogs relies on deductive reasoning and memory. As guesses are made, we get to keep track of where there are no frogs. The play here is many-faceted. The brain is wired to explore playing with object permanence in both sound (music) and vision (art). Having a shared puzzle, trying to find the frogs, increases bonding, attachment, and belonging.

Secret Song Letter

Another way to play with the symbols of a song is to put some notes into our hands and sing the solfege, but the rest of the words in English. This great challenge is enjoyable because it is almost achievable—this is the aspect of play called perceived competency; I think I can get it if I try one more time. We then have internal motivation and participation that comes from inside the person. No rewards are used other than the experience itself. We are symbolizing the sound in two distinct languages by toggling back and forth quickly!

Note of the Day

One reason music education is so important to the brain is that learning to read music adds a layer of abstract symbolization. In learning to read the printed word in a language, the brain is required to connect what it sees with a sound it has heard before. And in order to have meaning, this sound must represent something concrete that has been experienced (the letters, c, a , t, how they sound when combined, and what a cat is). In learning to read music, we see the note “D”, we know what it is called and perhaps can play it on an instrument, but it doesn’t represent a concrete thing besides the sounding of itself. It gains meaning when combined with notes that surround it, making a melody.

Lesson 8, 6/5/20


Our Bombalalom place is where we feel peaceful. As we sing this song, we reflect on how important it is to listen to each other, that we cooperate with each other, that we accept each other. There are times when we feel bad, and it’s okay to feel that way. We ask each other “how can we help?” We want to use our voice to make the future, and the present, better. Let us listen deeply.

Elephant in 3s

Aesthetics show up in many forms—visual art, sounds in music, the beauty of communication, or joy of movement. Here we have the aesthetic of thinking. Students brighten up when faced with this challenge. By providing a variety of aesthetic experiences, we really do reach all children through including them by invitation.

Mozart Canon 

Here are some fun facts about Mozart! We have been learning this Canon (a piece of music that is repeated at different intervals to create harmony) all year long. Bravo students love coming up to try their hands at leading this. I ask them if they want it with me or without me. They get very brave! Then they want it harder, and I start on a different part. It just gets better and better!

Secret Song

One way the brain builds the ability to empathize, is through mirror neurons. These are activated when we are united in song, or moving together. What looks from the outside to be a minor challenge, is actually doing some deeper tissue work in helping children become more empathetic and therefore, compassionate.

Oats Peas Beans-nouns and verbs

We take a look at language through singing, exploring nouns and verbs in a playful way. The children love discovering a secret song, so I thought I would give them this added challenge—where is that song? Feel free to print it out and try to follow it yourself! This is a song about planting, and the summer is a wonderful time to get outside and plant things. Get your hands in the dirt. It’s very nurturing.