Ravel, Messiaen, Debussy, & Schoenberg

The Ojai Music Festival celebrates works by Debussy, Messiaen, and Schoenberg in Part One of our Friday evening concert on June 7. Prepare yourself for a journey through shadowy forests, across oceans, soaring through the wind, basking in the light of the moon, breathing in the air of another planet. 

Poetic imagery, painting, and nature served to stimulate Debussy’s imagination, as did his encounter with non-Western music. In Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut (And the moon descends on the temple that was), one hears in its suspended stillness elements of the music of Bali.

Ravel’s Une barque sur l’océan (A boat on the ocean), the third of his five-movement Miroirs, is a study of motion, captured in surging arpeggiated currents.

Un reflet dans le vent (A reflection in the wind) is the last of Messiaen’s eight Préludes, all of which bear the hallmarks of his distinctive harmonic and rhythmic language. Their descriptive titles suggest influences from Debussy and crisp textures from Ravel. 

Schoenberg’s Second String Quartet is relatively short, its textures and formal layout clear and transparent. The impassioned first movement is an abbreviated sonata form; the second, a fidgety scherzo. The third movement delivers an unprecedented shock: the commanding voice of soprano Barbara Hannigan.

Barbara Hannigan talks “Rites of Passage” and Gérard Grisey

Soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan brings singers from her newly launched Equilibrium Mentoring Initiative to perform at the 73rd Ojai Music Festival, June 6 to 9, at Ojai’s Libbey Bowl. One of the curated programs on June 8 will be “Rites of Passage” – folk songs performed by the EQ artists who will share music from their native countries.

Ojai Music Festival Seeks Housing Hosts and Volunteers – June 6-9, 2019

The Ojai Music Festival welcomes Ojai Valley residents to get involved in the upcoming Ojai Music Festival slated for June 6 to 9, 2019 with Grammy-winning soprano Barbara Hannigan as music director. The Festival is seeking guest housing for musicians, production crew, and interns that include guest cottages, private rooms, and homes. The Festival also includes volunteer opportunities in various positions in the following areas: ushering, venue set up, special events, and merchandise sales. Volunteers receive special perks for their generous donation of time and talent.

The 73rd Ojai Music Festival, June 6-9, 2019, celebrates and explores the creative breadth of Music Director Barbara Hannigan, as conductor, singer, and mentor. Joining Hannigan will be the US debut of her mentoring initiative for young professional artists, Equilibrium (EQ), and the US debut of the orchestral collective from Amsterdam, LUDWIG, with whom Hannigan made her Grammy Award-winning conducting debut CD “Crazy Girl Crazy” in 2017. Returning to Ojai will be 2015 Music Director Steven Schick, who will both perform and conduct, and the JACK Quartet performing works by John Zorn, Tyshawn Sorey, and Arnold Schoenberg.

Program highlight include the staged production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress with Hannigan conducting and members of EQ as the cast; Hannigan as singer in Gérard Grisey’s Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil, John Zorn’s Jumalattaret, and Girl Crazy Suite, a special arrangement by Bill Elliott of songs from the Gershwin musical; Hannigan conducting Vivier’s Lonely Child, Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht and Stravinsky’s complete ballet Pulcinella. In addition, the Festival will give a concert in memoriam for 2005 Music Director Oliver Knussen. 

For more information on housing hosts or volunteering for the Ojai Music Festival, please call 805 646-2094 or email info@ojaifestival.org, or download application here. 

Equilibrium Young Artists are Born!

Founded by soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan, Equilibrium focuses on young musicians who are finished with their training and in the first substantial phase of their professional career, with special attention to singers. Suited for musicians who already have professional solo experience on stage, Equilibrium aims to help young artists further their professional development, elevating their total musicianship and discipline, offering projects with leading orchestras and ensembles. Seven of her EQ artists will be performing at the 73rd Ojai Music Festival, June 6 to 9, 2019 with Barbara Hannigan.

Barbara Hannigan, 2019 Music Director

Ojai Quarterly: Q&A with Thomas W. Morris


After years at the helm of the Ojai Music Festival, Artistic Director Thomas W.  Morris is ready for his next chapter. He says that the festival will be in good hands and that new creative directions are on his personal horizon. Morris ends his stay having fostered a legacy of eclecticism and invention, and he’s grateful for all that he’s learned at the helm   of one   of the world’s most iconic musical gatherings. On   a sunny winter day, he took time to sit down with the Ojai Quarterly to reflect on his time introducing our ears to sounds strange and wonderful.  conversation has been edited for length.

By JESSE PHELPS. Reprinted by permission by Ojai Quarterly / SPRING 2019

OQ: When did you come on board, and what did that process look like?
TOM MORRIS: My first Festival as Artistic Director was 2004. I was approached about three years before that. You know, the way we work, you have to plan three-plus years ahead. From my standpoint, the timing was impeccable because when I got the first call … I was going to retire from the Cleveland Orchestra. It was 17 years there and I decided at age 60, it was time to move on … And the other two things that were intriguing to me about this – I mean, I ran the Boston Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra for 35 years as the chief executive – but my real interest was in the artistic side. I was involved in all that in the orchestra world, I wasn’t responsible for it. And so, in essence, switching a career from the executive side to the artistic side was intriguing to me. It fit what I love. It actually focused it. Obviously, the reputation of the Festival goes without saying. But the fact that it was small-scale but high-impact also appealed to me.

OQ: Had you been to Ojai previously?
TM: I had. I started with the Boston Symphony in May, in the summer of 1969, and lo and behold, who should arrive as the Symphony Conductor but (current San Francisco Symphony M usic Director and seven-time Ojai Music Festival Music Director) Michael Tilson Thomas, a young hotshot conductor. And Michael, as I got to know him, was always talking about this Festival, the Ojai Music Festival, which I’d not heard of, and Ojai really gave Michael his break. But I never went to the festival, for various reasons, until 1996. And I fell in love with it.

OQ: You feel like there’s a different kind of integrity here, in service to the art?
TM: If you look at my career – where I went from the Boston Symphony, which is a huge conglomerate – Boston Symphony Orchestra Incorporated, which I was the CEO of, ran the Boston Symphony, it ran Tanglewood, it ran the Boston Pops – it’s massive. I went from there to the Cleveland Orchestra, which I think is the best anywhere, but it was a much smaller and more focused organization and it had a far greater belief system around the culture of art. And then to Ojai. So my whole career, I like to think of it as sort of an increasingly deep focus, less about size than meaning.

OQ: The impact of what you’re doing hasn’t lessened any.
TM: It’s gotten bigger in fact… Everyone thinks growth means bigger stuff. But it can also be smaller stuff or better stuff, or it can be different stuff.

OQ: What have you learned?
TM: It’s basically about a far broadened set of musical possibilities. And when I came here, I immediately sort of said, well, we’re not going to be orchestral. There are times in Ojai’s history when there was a lot of orchestra. I just didn’t want to do that. First of all, the facility is too small for a big 100-piece orchestra and also there’s a pretty great orchestra just down the road at Disney Hall. The music, to me, has grown from this magical setting and has this incredible audience. It s a magic alchemy, if you will. So I would describe my 16 years here as sort of the education of Tom Morris and the immersion of Tom Morris in these other worlds of music. Society’s changing, but the world of music is completely changing now. Because genres are disappearing and everything is melded together and in fact a lot of the creative excitement is actually between the genres.

OQ: Ojai really does offer this opportunity for that collision. I was fortunate to come and interview (2017 Musical Director) Vijay Iyer, and through that talk was inspired to go to the Sunday show where he was playing with (percussion master) Zakir Hussain and…(Indian Carnatic vocalist) Aruna Sairam…
Right! And that was like something transcendent. TIhat’s the only way to describe what I witnessed there.
TM: Of course! And you can’t describe what kind of music that was.
TM: It was a collision of four artists who had not worked together before, who wanted to work together. And we created the opportunity for them to work. And I remember Vijay had said to me, you know, I’ve never worked with Zakir Hussain and I’ve never worked with Aruna Sairam and I want to do that. So we put it together. They all came with ideas and to watch the creation of music in front of your eyes- and the give and take and how it was morphing- you were watching creativity in real time.

OQ: High, high, high level creativity.
TM: Beyond high level. And to me, to be involved in that kind of artistry, that’s not something you simply can do in a symphony orchestra. So, my learning here has been one of vastly expanded horizons and expanding and changing personal tastes and a whole new world of artistic friends. And what’s interesting, I find, if you look at my work here, it’s very organic and cumulative.

OQ: It wasn’t a planned arc.
TM: What was really happening was as we started to try different things. It expanded the range of possibilities, which expanded the range of possibilities, and if you look at the sequence of Music Directors, you can see that each one was in such a completely different direction, which is one of the beauties here.

OQ: I imagine you wouldn’t be stepping away if you didn’t have full confidence in your successor.
TM: I have complete confidence in (incoming Artistic Director) Chad (Smith). I couldn’t have a better successor. In my view, Chad is creative, he’s got a broad range of interests. He’s been in the orchestral world, but all you have to do is look at what he’s been doing (as the COO) at the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the range of artistic offerings there, which puts most other orchestral offerings to shame, in my view.

OQ: Do you think he’ll be as eclectic?
TM: What I hope is that he treats it as a learning laboratory for him, as I was able to do. What I’ve learned is that music exists in space, in a space, and how that space feels is where you pull the energy from. And this is one of the most spectacularly beautiful settings in the world.111ere’s nothing normal about the concert facilities. I mean, it’s outside, it’s amplified, and it has this audience which just is so into it. Every artist who comes says it’s the greatest audience we’ve ever played for because they trust, they respond, whether they like it or they don’t. In Ojai, it’s about the idea of Ojai. The Festival is about adventure, it’s about challenge, it’s about surprise.

OQ: There’s always the possibility of that magic we talked about.
Correct. And it’ll always happen v somewhere. And think about that from an audience perspective.

OQ: Right. Just the act of attendance is in some way experimental. But with that experiment comes sort of an infinite range of possibility of experience.
TM: I’ve been widely quoted on this. I look at concerts as experiences, as events. It happens at a certain time. And I think we can learn something from sports events. Why do people go to live sports events?

OQ: You don’t know what the outcome is going to be.
TM: Correct. And every concert that I’m interested in putting on, and everything we do here, the outcome is uncertain. That edge is why people who want to go to art exhibits or shows, that’s what excites them.

OQ: So why are you leaving us, and what’s next? 
TM: I don’t think you should overstay your welcome. A good friend of mine once said, “Never run the risk of being forgotten but not gone.” I seem to have this habit, Boston was 17 years, Cleveland was 17 years, and this is 16. It actually adds up to 50, which I find curious. I’ve changed it a lot here and it’s time for somebody else to take it to the next stage. So that’s the first reason, which is very personal. And the second is, the organization in 2021 and ’22 is celebrating its 75th anniversary. There was some talk that I would see it through the anniversary, but the 75th anniversary ought to be a time to propel forward.

OQ: So what are you going to do?
I don’t know yet. When you change what you’re doing, I look at it as two decisions. It’s a decision to leave and it’s a decision to go someplace. And that’s happened consistently in my career … I’ve found that one you’ve jettisoned what you’re doing, the possibilities explode. And I’ve been very active recently with Interlochen (the famous youth arts education institute in Miichigan) as a board member, and I’m very interested in how artists are trained. So my guess is somehow that’ll be a factor in what I’m doing going forward. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that there might be another festival in the offing. I’m a complete failure at retirement. I keep going back to this learning thing. The greatest thing about doing what I do is I get to work with the most creative people. It’s a very sparky, creative existence. And that’s something I just don’t want to leave. I’d rather have an effect through doing than reflecting.

OQ: You’re all about the experience.
This place is just such a freeform laboratory. It’s a humbling experience having the artistic responsibility for a venerable organization. It’s gone from being sort of fundamentally contemporary classical, and almost European music, to much wider, which to me reflects what’s going on in society and in the world today.1he range of artists who come is just completely broader and different and the possibilities have expanded, radically.

OQ: Thank you for helping to shepherd that. 
TM: It’s not been a burden. It’s a personal quest for me too. It’s affected me and taught me. You know, one of the great things about not-for-profit organizations like this one is , that they give you the opportunity to lead and to create and I’ll forever be grateful to the Ojai Music Festival for the belief and support and enthusiasm. And the complete lack of fear.

OQ: We’ll always be grateful to you for being willing to fearlessly undergo that journey in front of us and with us.
It’s very personal to me, and I think that’s what it has to be. I will say that I’m the luckiest person. I’ve had the luckiest career of anyone I can imagine. I’m actually paid to do what I love. What’s better than that? And this year’s going to be about as perfect a capstone as I can imagine. There are going to be moments of awe and moments of laughter and moments of fright. And the level of artists coming, you just can’t get better artists than are here this year anywhere.

The Ojai Music Festival returns for one last go-round with Thomas Morris as Artistic Director this June 6-9. This year’s Music Director is multi-faceted Canadian conductor and soprano, Barbara Hannigan. Tickets and more information about the events can be found at ojaifestival.org.

The Progress of a Rake Begins…

The Rake’s Progress premiere with Barbara Hannigan, EQ Artists and the Gothengurg Symphony. Photo by Mats Backer

Special Report from Thomas W. Morris (December 13, 2018)

I am writing this from Gothenburg, a beautiful quiet city in southern Sweden, home of the Gothenburg Symphony, the National Orchestra of Sweden. The widely recorded orchestra has a distinguished conductor heritage with Barbara Hannigan along with Christoph Eschenbach serving as Principal Guest Conductors and Gustavo Dudamel as Honorary Conductor. Former Ojai Music Director Kent Nagano served as Principal Guest Conductor for the last five years.

The occasion here was the world premiere of the new fully staged production of Stravinsky’s 1951 opera, The Rake’s Progress, a co-production of the Gothenburg Symphony, Brussel’s Klara Festival, the Munich Philharmonic, and the Ojai and Aldeburgh Music Festivals. This same production will open the 2019 Festival on Thursday, June 6 in Libbey Bowl.

The Rakes Progress is an astonishing morality tale of good and evil, with text by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman, and composed in Stravinsky’s most delicious neoclassic style. The 45-piece orchestra has all the rhythmic clarity found in the classic operas of Mozart, down to the ever present sparkle of a harpsichord continuo. There are arias, ensemble pieces, recitatives, and choruses, all framed in some of Stravinsky’s most bracing, stylish and rhythmically pointed music. The work is full of deep and stark drama, but also enormous humor – a perfect meld of the sublime and the ridiculous.

The production is and performances were out of this world. The mastermind was Barbara Hannigan who conceived the project and conducted, in fact it was her operatic conducting debut. Two years ago, Barbara founded Equilibrium (EQ), her mentoring initiative for young professional artists in the early stage of their careers. She reviewed over 300 applications for the project and personally auditioned over 100 singers and conductors a year ago. 22 were selected to participate during this first year, who come from all over the world.. Through the course of the year, Barbara conducts about three weeks of workshops outside Paris with the group, with the goal of teaching performance practices, refining interpretive issues in particular works, coping with the peculiar challenges of an artist’s life on the road, and functioning at the highest level of professionalism in the face of often challenging circumstances. Joining her in teaching are a yoga instructor from Amsterdam and the incredible Jackie Reardon, world famous tennis player and tennis coach who now spends her career as a life coach and motivational teacher, and author of several books and online teaching courses called Mindset and Friendly Eyes.

The artists also work with Barbara in her own various projects, including The Rake’s Progress. EQ singers form three separate casts for Rake’s (the opera requires six singers). This rotating cast will be working with Barbara in this new production to be performed three times in Gothenburg (I heard the first two performances), two performances at Brussels Klara Festival in March, two performances with the Munich Philharmonic in early May, five concert performances in Amsterdam, Hamburg, Paris, Dortmund and Dresden in late May, and then one performance in Ojai June 6 and a final one in Aldeburgh June 20.The Brussels cast will be the same that comes to Ojai and Aldeburgh.

Barbara engaged the noted young director Linus Fellbom to create, design, light, and direct the production, originally conceived as a “semi-staged” production – vastly simpler than traditional fully-staged productions and usually necessary because of the need to adapt a production to many difference places, different kinds of halls (concerts halls in Gothenburg, Munich, and Aldeburgh), a traditional opera house in Brussels), and different environments such as the unique outdoor setting of Ojai’s Libbey Bowl. “Semi-staged” productions also have the advantage of requiring far less preparation times to set up, a significant factor with so many performances in different places, as well as usually far less in terms of budgets. What Linus has incredibly created is a “fully-staged” production under “semi-staged” limitations. It is a marvel of compactness, power and simplicity – one that will be fascinating in so many different settings.

While not wanting to give away the surprises, I will say the production is based on the concept of an opera production which lands mysteriously in the various settings in gigantic wooden box, plopping itself down the center of the stage, behind which is the orchestra and on the sides of which is the chorus. As the opera unfolds, the box assumes life of its own, framing not only the singing and acting but astonishingly becoming the center of the drama itself. The work’s powerful climax contains a most stunning coups de theater that will take your breath away.

I saw two performances in Gothenburg, and both were thrilling. The production was over the top in its power and meaning, and the singing and acting by the unique Gothenburg cast from EQ simply the best I have ever heard in this opera, both individually and also as an ensemble. A note that singing the title role of Anne Truelove was Aphrodite Patoulidou, a young Greek soprano, who will also sing the role in Ojai: remember this name and the fact that you can say you discovered her in Ojai, much the same as discovering the young Julia Bullock in Ojai in 2011. The sheer energy, ensemble and vocal art of all of these young performers was totally captivating. The audience rose to its feet at the end in loud cheers each night. Reviews have been ecstatic. And above it all, Barbara Hannigan’s mastery of the score, her incisive conducting and her electrifying presence gave coherent shape, energy and power to the whole score.

Ojai is in for a treat. The Rake’s Progress has not been widely performed in southern California, only two touring performances in the 1960s and a performance about five years ago by Opera Pacifica. (Neither the LA Opera or LA Philharmonic have performed the work.) Ojai amazingly has heard performances of three excerpts from the work – the so-called Bedlam Scene in 1962 conducted by the Lukas Foss, and Anne Truelove’s famous aria scene in 1956 conducted by Robert Craft, and again in 1968, conducted by Lawrence Foster. I am so proud we can open the 2019 Festival with this fully-staged production – which not only expands our range of production capabilities but ties neatly to the fact that Stravinsky himself was Ojai Music Director in 1956, just five years after composing Rake’s.

As the devilish Nick Shadow says at the end of the first scene – “the progress of a Rake begins” –  indeed, a journey that will last the whole season for Barbara Hannigan, and of which we will be the beneficiary in June, an event not to be missed.


Imagine Concert on March 1 at the Ojai Valley School featuring the UCSB Middle East Music Ensemble –  Music Van brings instruments to Ojai Valley school students

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

To celebrate Music in the Schools month in March, the BRAVO program will feature two of their signature programs for both students and the community starting with the Imagine concert on Friday, March 1 at the Ojai Valley School.

Thanks to a special grant from the Ojai Valley School-Barbara Barnard Smith Fund of the Ventura County Community Foundation, the Imagine concert will present the UC-Santa Barbara Middle East Ensemble in two school performances at the Greenberg Center on the OVS campus. Fourth, fifth and six graders will enjoy world music with a program that will emphasize Middle Eastern music and dance. All are welcome to enjoy the ensemble at a free concert from 4:00pm to 5:00pm Friday, March 1. It is completely open to the general public with no reservations required and seats will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. These programs provide a lasting legacy of enduring support for Ojai Valley School’s continued education in world music.  Along with related arts, it is intended to engender a broad perspective and appreciation of music from all world cultures. This occurs primarily through live performances of traditional music in major non-Western cultural regions. When possible and suitable, the ancestral cultural heritage of the Ojai community and its students are also focused upon.  Thanks to Professor Smith, these funds annually open the doors to an engaging multicultural experience for students, teachers, parents and the community, embodying true world view of music.  Ojai Valley School is indebted to Professor Smith for her foresight and generosity.

Also in March, BRAVO’s Music Van will set out to demonstrate the instruments of the orchestra to elementary students. This year, 50 volunteers will visit 10 public and private schools with a selection of instruments that more than 400 fourth and fifth graders are invited to try out

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

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

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


2019 Applications for the Arts Management Intern Program Now Available

(OJAI, CA) – The Ojai Music Festival’s arts management internship program is now accepting applications for the 73rd Ojai Music Festival slated for June 6 to 9, 2019 with soprano and conductor Barbara Hannigan as music director.  Entering its 12th year, the Festival’s sought-after program provides hands-on experiences to college students as they are immersed in areas of production, administration, operations, special events, merchandising, live streaming, marketing, public relations, and patron services.

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

Applicants must be 18 or over and enrolled in a two or four year accredited college. The Festival provides housing for the duration of the internship as well as a stipend.  Applications are due by March 1, 2019.  Download the application here.

About the Ojai Music Festival
From its founding in 1947, the Ojai Music Festival has created a place for groundbreaking musical experiences, bringing together innovative artists and curious audiences in an intimate, idyllic setting 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The Festival presents broad-ranging programs in unusual ways with an eclectic mix of rarely performed music, refreshing juxtapositions of musical styles, and works by today’s composers. The four-day festival is an immersive experience with concerts, free community events, symposia, and gatherings. Considered a highlight of the international music summer season, Ojai has remained a leader in the classical music landscape for seven decades.

Through its unique structure of the Artistic Director appointing an annual Music Director, Ojai has presented a “who’s who” of music including Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, Olivier Messiaen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Kent Nagano, Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, David Robertson, Eighth Blackbird, George Benjamin, Dawn Upshaw, Leif Ove Andsnes, Mark Morris, Jeremy Denk, Steven Schick, Peter Sellars, Vijay Iyer, Barbara Hannigan (2019), and Matthias Pintscher (2020).

The 73rd Ojai Music Festival, June 6 to 9, 2019, will celebrate and explore the creative breadth of Music Director Barbara Hannigan, as conductor, singer, and mentor. Joining Ms. Hannigan will be the US debuts of her mentoring initiative for young professional artists, Equilibrium (EQ), and the orchestral collective from Amsterdam, LUDWIG, with whom Ms. Hannigan made her Grammy Award-winning conducting debut CD “Crazy Girl Crazy” in 2017.

The 2019 Festival program will feature works by composers central to Ojai’s history and future, including John Luther Adams, Gerard Grisey, Oliver Knussen, Catherine Lamb, Olivier Messiaen, Terry Riley, Arnold Schoenberg, Tyshawn Sorey, Igor Stravinsky, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Claude Vivier, and John Zorn. Highlights will include the staged production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress with Ms. Hannigan conducting and members of EQ as the cast; Ms. Hannigan performing in Gérard Grisey’s Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil; the Ojai premiere of John Zorn’s Jumalattaret and Girl Crazy Suite, a special arrangement by Bill Elliott of songs from the Gershwin musical.

For more information regarding the internship program for the Ojai Music Festival, please call the main office at 805 646 2094 or email info@ojaifestival.org.  For more information on the Ojai Music Festival, visit OjaiFestival.org.



Watch: Barbara Hannigan on the Equilibrium Mentoring Initiative

2019 Music Director Barbara Hannigan discusses her new mentoring initiative for young professional artists, Equilibrium (EQ), which focuses on young musicians who are finished with their training and in the first substantial phase of their professional career, with special attention to singers. Seven of these young artists will form the 2019 Festival cast of The Rake’s Progress, as well as perform additional music by Igor Stravinsky, Claude Vivier, Mark-Anthony Turnage throughout the Festival. 

In January 2017, Hannigan launched the Equilibrium (EQ) initiative to mentor 21 young professional musicians. EQ includes intensive workshop retreats, which focus on developing and strengthening the skills needed for sustaining a fulfilling career, as well as offering performance opportunities with Hannigan and others. EQ artists are selected from an international field of applicants for their talent, musicianship, passion, drive, curiosity, discipline, versatility, and creativity. 

View the 2019 concert schedule
Read EQ artists bios 

“What I can do, is bring young artists into my performance realm, to invite them to share the stage with me, and to learn alongside me.


We will be working as colleagues. I will lead, as music director of the projects, and will mentor the younger artists by providing professional guidance and advice. I will advise, consult and guide in pre- and post-rehearsal situations, but the stimulus for the discipline I am trying to instil should come from within the working environment.”- Barbara Hannigan 

Ojai Music Festival Announces Initial 2019 Festival Program with Music Director Barbara Hannigan

The 73rd Festival celebrates Hannigan as conductor, singer, and mentor; welcomes resident ensemble LUDWIG and members of Hannigan’s Equilibrium (EQ) mentoring initiative in their US debuts, and pianist Stephen Gosling and pianist/conductor Edo Frenkel in their Ojai debuts; and  the return of JACK Quartet and conductor/percussionist Steven Schick

Works by composers central to Ojai’s history and future are featured, including John Luther Adams, James Dillon, Gerard Grisey, Oliver Knussen, Catherine Lamb, Olivier Messiaen, Terry Riley, Marc Sabat, Arnold Schoenberg, Tyshawn Sorey, Igor Stravinsky, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Claude Vivier, and John Zorn, with highlights:

  • Semi-staged production of Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress with Hannigan conducting, director/designer Linus Fellbom, and members of EQ as the cast
  • Hannigan performs as singer in Gérard Grisey’s Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil, Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2 for soprano & string quartet, the US premiere of John Zorn’s Jumalattaret,Girl Crazy Suite, a special arrangement by Bill Elliott of songs from the Gershwin musical;and as narrator in William Walton’s whimsical Façade: An Entertainment
  • Hannigan conducts Vivier’s Lonely Child, Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht and Stravinsky’s complete ballet Pulcinella
  • Chamber works by John Zorn with Stephen Gosling and the JACK Quartet include Hexentarot, Ghosts,and The Aristosfor piano trio, The Unseen, and The Alchemist for string quartet
  • Concert in memoriam to 2005 Music Director Oliver Knussen 
  • John Luther Adam’s The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies performed by Steven Schick in the Libbey Park Gazebo, free for the community 

Second year of partnership with Great Britain’s Aldeburgh Festival in Snape continues June 19-21, 2019

After shaping Ojai’s artistic direction for sixteen years, the 2019 Festival marks the conclusion of Thomas W. Morris’ defining tenure

Download PDF version 

(OJAI CA – November 13, 2018) – The 73rd Ojai Music Festival, June 6-9, 2019, celebrates and explores the creative breadth of Music Director Barbara Hannigan, as conductor, singer, and mentor. Joining Ms. Hannigan will be the US debut of her mentoring initiative for young professional artists, Equilibrium (EQ), as well as the US debut of the orchestral collective from Amsterdam, LUDWIG, with whom Ms. Hannigan made her Grammy Award-winning conducting debut CD “Crazy Girl Crazy” in 2017.

2019 Music Director Barbara Hannigan shared,

“What does the Ojai Music Festival mean to me? Possibility. Embrace. Challenge. Electricity. Resonance. The Ojai Festival is an atelier where we are invited to gather, as audience and performers, where we are in communion with one another, witnessing the act of live performance. Storytelling, dramaturgy, heart to heart exchange are at the center of my programming choices. This Festival will be a synthesis of dark and light – chiaroscuro – and brings the human voice to the forefront of many events, exploring the various ways composers have been inspired to express themselves through the interplay of text and music. 


The Ojai Festival is a more than a playground: it is a circus tent, a jungle gym, an obstacle course, a field of dreams. There are risks being taken, and we open ourselves with curiosity, to possibilities of sound, of flying and falling, of being overwhelmed. Performers always have a degree of courage, but the same must be said of the loyal, curious and inspiring audiences of the Ojai Festival. I simply can’t wait.”

The 2019 Festival marks the sixteenth and final year under the artistic direction of Thomas W. Morris. As the Ojai Music Festival approaches its 75th anniversary and looks toward the future, the innumerable contributions by Mr. Morris will continue to be realized through the 2019 Festival and beyond. Under his creative watch, the Festival pushed boundaries and scope; explored each music director’s individual perspective, creativity, and artistic communities; invited an ever-broadening roster of artists; expanded in scope into an immersion experience over four days; introduced live and archival video streaming of concerts and talks; and built connections across musical communities with through-curated programming for each Festival.  

Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris said,

“One of the most rewarding parts of my artistic director responsibilities has been selecting the annual music director – an ever-evolving process informed by the extraordinary resilience and receptivity of the Ojai Music Festival and its audience, as well as the astonishing wealth of artistic talent that exists. The world of music is so different than it was sixteen years ago with the artistic possibilities exploding, the breadth and depth of creative talent expanding, artificial boundaries between genres disappearing, and the appetite for audiences for more intense and distinctive musical experiences increasing. It is those forces that have propelled the sequence of music director appointments over the years – from a singer, to a pianist, to a choreographer, to a pianist/author, to a percussionist/conductor, to a stage director, to an improviser/composer, to a violinist, and to a singer/conductor/mentor. I would be less than honest to admit that this was a sequence well thought out in advance; in fact, the process was organic – an evolving adventure as each music director opened up new possibilities for the next in the context of an ever-changing environment. In many ways, Ojai is an ever self-reinforcing and regenerative flywheel of creativity. 


I am thrilled that Barbara Hannigan is my creative partner in 2019, my last after sixteen glorious and stimulating years. Barbara, a dear friend and a great artist, is a beacon of extraordinary creativity through her incredible artistry and ceaseless curiosity and commitment to the future. She represents everything an artist of the future must be. A renowned soprano, conductor and musician, she demonstrates the values that define the next generation of great artistic leaders with her new Equilibrium mentoring initiative for young artists. It will be a festival of provocative new sounds, imaginative productions, palatable energy, and outright fun – what I see as a fitting capstone to what has been an invigorating, stimulating, and daunting adventure for me over these years.”

Launching the Festival concert line-up on Thursday, June 6 will be Ms. Hannigan’s work from the podium, Stravinsky’s neoclassic opera, The Rake’s Progress, a Faustian fable for our time addressing the subjects of love, laziness, and greed. Anne Truelove was one of the first operatic roles Ms. Hannigan ever sang, and the opera holds a special place in her heart. Ms. Hannigan conducts this semi-staged performance featuring members of her Equilibrium mentoring initiative as the cast and the Los Robles Master Chorale in their Ojai debut. The production, directed by Linus Fellbom, is a co-production with the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden, the Klara Festival in Brussels, the Munich Philharmonic in Germany, plus the Aldeburgh Festival. The Rake’s Progress is new to Ojai with the exception of a performance in 1962 of one scene from the opera, and has been very rarely performed in Southern California.During the Festival, Ms. Hannigan also conducts works by Arnold Schoenberg, Igor Stravinsky, and Claude Vivier.

As a singer, Ms. Hannigan will perform Gérard Grisey’s masterpiece, Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil,a 45-minute song cycle for soprano and 16 instruments which explores the passage from life into death. Quatre chants pour franchir le seuil, completed just days before Grisey’s death, will be conducted by Ojai’s 2015 Music Director Steven Schick. Ms. Hannigan will perform in Arnold Schoenberg’s sensual String Quartet No. 2 for soprano & string quartet with the JACK Quartet. Ms. Hannigan will serve as both singer and conductor in Girl Crazy Suite, a touching and infectious arrangement by Tony-award winning Bill Elliott, which is part of Hannigan’s 2017 Grammy-winning album Crazy Girl Crazy, that will close the Festival on Sunday, June 9. Also featured will be Ms. Hannigan and pianist Stephen Gosling performing the US premiere of John Zorn’s Jumalattaret, an extraordinary quest for soprano and piano inspired by the goddesses of Finland’s Kalevala saga. 

In January 2017, Ms. Hannigan launched the Equilibrium (EQ) initiative to mentor 21 young professional musicians in the first substantial phase of their careers. EQ includes intensive workshop retreats, which focus on developing and strengthening the skills needed for sustaining a fulfilling career, as well as offering performance opportunities with Ms. Hannigan and others. EQ artists are selected from an international field of applicants for their talent, musicianship, passion, drive, curiosity, discipline, versatility, and creativity. Seven of these young artists will form the cast of The Rake’s Progress, as well as perform additional music by Igor Stravinsky, Claude Vivier, Mark-Anthony Turnage. On Saturday, June 8, the singers will participate in a special program of folk songs from their diverse native countries entitled, Rites of Passage.

LUDWIG, the celebrated collective from Amsterdam, with whom Ms. Hannigan works closely and collaborated with on the recent Grammy and Juno award-winning album Crazy Girl Crazy(Alpha Classics), makes its Ojai and US debut with the 2019 Festival. Formed in 2012, LUDWIG distinguishes itself artistically and in terms of its range and flexibility. Varying in size from a single soloist to a full-scale symphonic orchestra, LUDWIG carefully crafts its diverse programming. In 2015, LUDWIG received The Art of Impact grant for their pioneering research project Ludwig and the Brain, which, in cooperation with leading scientists, explores innovative ways music can have positive effects on health and education. 

The JACK Quartet, which made its Ojai debut at the 2018 Festival, returns performing Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2 with Ms. Hannigan as soprano, Marc Sabat’s Euler Lattice Spirals Scenery, Tyshawn Sorey’s Everything Changes, Nothing Changes, Catherine Lamb’s String Quartet, and a two-part concert of works by John Zorn, including three piano trios with Stephen Gosling, and two quartets The Unseenand The Alchemist. Deemed “superheroes of the new music world” (Boston Globe), JACK is dedicated to the performance, commissioning, and spread of new string quartet music. Comprising violinists Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, violist John Pickford Richards, and cellist Jay Campbell, the group collaborates with composers of our day and was recently named the 2018 Ensemble of the Year by Musical America.

Oliver Knussen, who passed away at the early age of 66 on July 8, 2018, was Ojai’s Music Director in 2005, and worked extensively with Barbara Hannigan in the 1990s. In tribute, the Festival will offer a program of Mr. Knussen’s music including ensemble and piano pieces. Thomas W. Morris said on his passing, “Olly, as he was known to everyone, was a giant musician – figuratively and literally –  a bear of a man with the gentlest and kindest disposition of anyone I have ever known.  I was always amazed about the breadth of his openness and curiosity for music, and he simply knew and loved more music than anyone I knew. His music was meticulously crafted, finely etched, and deeply inspired. He is profoundly missed professionally and personally.”

Additional featured music includes Terry Riley’s seminal In C, receiving its second Ojai Festival performance and featuring 2019 Festival artists and William Walton’s entertainment, Façade, a concoction for speaker and six instruments on humorous poems by Edith Sitwell, will be narrated by Barbara Hannigan and surprise guests.

Free Community Concerts 
The Festival continues to build on its commitment to reach broader audiences with several opportunities for the community to experience Festival offerings. Over the course of the first three afternoons of the 2019 Festival, percussionist Steven Schick will perform the eight movements of John Luther Adams’ The Mathematics of Resonant Bodies. Works by John Luther Adams have been performed for Ojai audiences and have included Sila, Inuksuit (co-commissioned by the Ojai Music Festival), and recently Everything that Rises performed at the 2018 Festival.  

Ojai Films 
For the first time since 2014, the Ojai Music Festival welcomes the return of Ojai Films, a series of two screenings during the weekend at the Ojai Presbyterian Church, while the Ojai Playhouse continues its reconstruction. On Friday, June 7 the Festival will include, I’m a creative animal: A Portrait of Barbara Hannigan produced in 2014 by SRF and directed by Barbara Seiler. On Saturday, June 8, the Festival will present the US premiere of Taking Risks, a documentary produced by Accentus Music on the birth of Equilibrium which follows its inception through all stages of the casting and production, and culminating in the world premiere of the semi-staged production of The Rake’s Progress (which is performed in Ojai June 6) in Gothenburg in December 2018.

Ojai Talks 
The 2019 Festival begins with Ojai Talks hosted by Ara Guzelimian, former Festival Artistic Director and current Dean and Provost of The Juilliard School. On Thursday, June 6, a three-part series of discussions will begin with an exploration of Barbara Hannigan’s Equilibrium (EQ) initiative, with Ms. Hannigan and EQ artists. Mr. Guzelimian will interview Thomas W. Morris on his sixteen-year tenure as Ojai’s Artistic Director for the second part, and the third part of the discussion series will speak to the reinvention of musical groups, with members of LUDWIG.  

Additional on-site and online dialogue during the 2019 Festival includes Concert Insights, the pre-concert talks at the Libbey Bowl Tennis Courts with Festival artists led by resident musicologist Christopher Hailey. Pre-concert interviews with artists are broadcast through the Festival’s free live streaming program, hosted by content-expert individuals.  

Further details for Ms. Hannigan’s 2019 Festival will be announced in the spring. For up-to-date Festival information, artist biographies, and photos, visit the Ojai Music Festival website at OjaiFestival.org.

Partnership with the Aldeburgh Festival, June 19-21, 2019 
The new partnership with Aldeburgh was launched following the 2018 Festival in Ojai with Music Director Patricia Kopatchinskaja. The collaboration showcases select Ojai Music Festival concerts during the Aldeburgh Festival at the acclaimed Maltings in Snape near Aldeburgh, England. The partnership features co-productions and co-commissions affording both the Ojai Music Festival and Aldeburgh Festival the ability to present more complex and creative artistic projects than could be conceived by each partner separately.  Launched in June 2018 for an initial four-year period, the 2019 edition takes place June 19-21.

Ojai at Berkeley Concludes 
Ojai at Berkeley, the robust eight-year partnership between the Ojai Music Festival and Cal Performances, began in 2011 and allowed such collaborations as The Classical Style by Steven Stucky and Jeremy Denk, Josephine Baker Portrait by Tyshawn Sorey and Julia Bullock, and George Lewis’ Afterword the Opera to be performed. With the leadership transitions at both institutions, it has been decided to conclude the venture. The final installation of Ojai at Berkeley took place in June 2018 following the Ojai Music Festival with Music Director Patricia Kopatchinskaja.

Barbara Hannigan, 2019 Music Director
Nova Scotian musician Barbara Hannigan divides her time between singing on the world’s major stages and conducting leading orchestras. The Berlin Philharmonic, Münchner Philharmoniker, Gothenburg Symphony, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and the Toronto Symphony are among the orchestras with whom she holds close relationships. Ms. Hannigan has worked with the most prominent conductors, including Simon Rattle, Kent Nagano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Andris Nelsons, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Kirill Petrenko, David Zinman, Vladimir Jurowski, Antonio Pappano, Alan Gilbert, and Reinbert de Leeuw. Her commitment to the music of our time has led to an extensive collaboration with composers including Boulez, Dutilleux, Ligeti, Stockhausen, Sciarrino, Barry, Dusapin, and Abrahamsen. She has recently been appointed as Principal Guest Conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony in Sweden, following Kent Nagano’s tenure in that position.

Unforgettable operatic appearances include the title role in Lulu in Krszysztof Warlikowski’s staging at Brussels’ La Monnaie, and more recently at Hamburg Staatsoper conducted by Kent Nagano and directed by Christoph Marthaler; the title role of Pelléas et Mélisandein Katie Mitchell’s staging at the 2016 Festival d’Aix-en-Province conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and in Krszysztof Warlikowski’s more recent production at the Ruhrtriennale in Germany; and Marie in Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten at the Bayerische Staatsoper—a hugely acclaimed presentation directed by Andreas Kriegenberg and conducted by Kirill Petrenko, for which she won the Faust Award in Germany. She made her Opéra National de Paris debut in 2015 with La voix humaine again in a Warlikowski production and returned in April 2018 to reprise the role. She created the role of Ophelia in Brett Dean’s Hamletat the Glyndebourne Festival in summer 2017 and created the lead soprano roles in both of George Benjamin’s full scale operas: Written on Skin, and Lessons in Love and Violence.

In 2017, Ms. Hannigan released her first album as both singer and conductor, with Holland’s LUDWIG orchestra as the orchestral force, on Alpha Classics, entitled Crazy Girl Crazy. The album features works by Berio, Berg, and a specially commissioned Gershwin arrangement by Bill Elliott, as well as a bonus dvd by Mathieu Amalric. The album has received numerous awards worldwide including the Grammy and Juno awards for best classical vocal album.

Ms. Hannigan’s previous recordings have garnered awards from Gramophone, Edison, Victoires de la Musique and the Royal Philharmonic Society. Other awards include Singer of the Year (Opernwelt, 2013), Musical Personality of the Year (Syndicat de la Presse Francaise, 2012), Ehrenpreise (Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik 2018), and Rolf Schock Prize for Musical Arts (2018), and she was recently appointed as a member to the Order of Canada (2016).

In 2017 Ms. Hannigan created Equilibrium, an international mentoring initiative for young professional musicians, and chose 21 participants from a total of 350 applicants from 39 countries to participate in Equilibrium’s first season (2018/19), which will have over 20 performances with four partner orchestras in works including Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, Mozart’s Requiem, and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella.

Thomas W. Morris, Artistic Director 
Thomas W. Morris was appointed Artistic Director of the Ojai Music Festival starting with the 2004 Festival. As Artistic Director, he is responsible for artistic planning and each year appoints a music director with whom he shapes the Festival’s programming. During Mr. Morris’ tenure, the scope and density of the Festival has expanded, the collaborative partnership Ojai at Berkeley with Cal Performances at UC Berkeley launched, a partnership with England’s Aldeburgh Festival was initiated in 2018, and a comprehensive program of video streaming of all concerts was instituted. Mr. Morris is recognized as one of the most innovative leaders in the orchestra industry and served as the longtime chief executive of both The Cleveland Orchestra and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He is currently active nationally and internationally as a consultant, lecturer, teacher, and writer. Mr. Morris was a founding director of Spring for Music in NYC and served as the project’s artistic director. He served ten years on the board of trustees of Interlochen Center for the Arts, most recently as Vice Chair, and he is also an accomplished percussionist. In November 2018, Mr. Morris announced his decision to retire as the Festival’s Artistic Director following the 2019 Festival with Music Director Barbara Hannigan, after shaping Ojai’s artistic direction for sixteen years.

About the Ojai Music Festival 
From its founding in 1947, the Ojai Music Festival has created a place for groundbreaking musical experiences, bringing together innovative artists and curious audiences in an intimate, idyllic setting 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles. The Festival presents broad-ranging programs in unusual ways with an eclectic mix of rarely performed music, refreshing juxtapositions of musical styles, and works by today’s composers. The four-day festival is an immersive experience with concerts, free community events, symposia, and gatherings. Considered a highlight of the international music summer season, Ojai has remained a leader in the classical music landscape for seven decades.

Through its unique structure of the Artistic Director appointing an annual Music Director, Ojai has presented a “who’s who” of music including Aaron Copland, Igor Stravinsky, Olivier Messiaen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Kent Nagano, Pierre Boulez, John Adams, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, David Robertson, Eighth Blackbird, George Benjamin, Dawn Upshaw, Leif Ove Andsnes, Mark Morris, Jeremy Denk, Steven Schick, Peter Sellars, Vijay Iyer, Barbara Hannigan (2019), and Matthias Pintscher (2020).

As the Ojai Music Festival approaches its 75th anniversary and looks toward the future, Thomas W. Morris concludes his remarkable 16-year tenure as Artistic Director following the 73rd Festival in 2019. With the appointment of Chad Smith as the next Artistic Director, Ojai’s artistic momentum is clearly poised to continue. Mr. Smith will succeed Mr. Morris as Artistic Director with the 2020 Festival (June 11-14).

Remote Access to the Ojai Music Festival 
The Ojai Music Festival allows the world beyond Ojai’s Libbey Bowl to experience the music and ideas expressed at the Festival through state-of-the art live streaming access during the four-day Festival and later archived at OjaiFestival.org

Series Passes for the 2019 Ojai Music Festival 
2019 Festival series passes are available and may be purchased online at OjaiFestival.org or by calling (805) 646-2053. Ojai Music Festival series passes range from $165 to $925 for reserved seating and lawn series passes start at $75. Single concert tickets will be available in spring 2019.






Video: Barbara Hannigan on the 2019 Festival


2019 Music Director Barbara Hannigan – conductor, singer, and mentor – discusses her artistic values and describes herself as a creative person intensely interested in the collaborative process. 

View the full schedule here 

Ojai Holiday Home Tour & Marketplace


The Ojai Holiday Home Tour & Marketplace kicks off the holiday season on Saturday, November 10 and Sunday, November 11, 10am to 4pm. Presented by the Ojai Festival Women’s Committee, this treasured tradition highlights the diverse and beautiful neighborhoods of the Ojai Valley by featuring four distinctive Ojai homes adorned with floral inspirations by inspiring designers. This year’s properties will include the stunning Patina Farm built and owned by designer/architect couple Brooke and Steve Giannetti.

Entering its 22nd year, the tour benefits the Ojai Music Festival and its BRAVO education and community program, which offers free music workshops to the Ojai Valley public schools and the community.

Also taking place the same weekend is the Holiday Marketplace held at Thomas Aquinas Church Hall (185 St. Thomas Drive). This companion event will feature a collection of curated lifestyle and fashion items from more than 40 vendors as well as a variety of food trucks. Admission to the Marketplace is free and open to the public. The Marketplace hours are 10am to 5:30pm on Saturday and 10am to 4:30pm on Sunday.

Advance tour price is $40 per person and $45 day of the event which can be purchased at the Holiday Marketplace. A group discount is available for 8 or more people. Tickets are available at 805-646-2053, participating ticket outlets – Attitude Adjustment, Flora Gardens, Rains Department Store, and Fox Fine Jewelers in Ventura. Or purchase online here >


Five acres of natural beauty, enhanced by masterful design, create a Persimmon Hill paradise that welcomes family and friends at home. Indoor rooms flow seamlessly to the lush outside to provide a luxuriously spacious and relaxed ambiance in this gorgeous hideaway.  No detail was left to chance in the owner-designed and meticulously crafted architecture, furnishings, and landscape. A neutral color palette highlighted by peaceful pastels extends throughout the house and lovely gardens. Thoughtfully chosen antiques complement the natural textures of the structure, reflecting family history as well as travels. The artful blending of classical and modern influences exudes a feeling of simple elegance – even the donkeys and goats have luxurious quarters that complement the cozy charm of the home. 

Located conveniently close to town, but feeling like it’s tucked far away, lies a very personal gem of a home, offering a comfortable private oasis for this civic-minded couple. Nestled amid lush native gardens, which you might recognize from the 2017 Ojai garden tour, the home features dream chef’s kitchens inside and out, welcoming family and friends to share warm hospitality. The hostess has authored two cookbooks. A homey atmosphere is created by works of many local artists, Edward Curtis photos, as well as Native American baskets and art collected during the owners’ extensive travels. A plunge pool and bocce ball court, as well as several relaxing garden niches, complete the ambiance of this lovely abode. You’ll want to stay and bide a while.

It is the beautiful majestic oaks surrounding this Spanish-style home that welcomes you to this secret sanctuary that features an appreciation for all genres of music and a passion for exceptional art. Be sure to allow plenty of time to experience this amazing private “gallery” — Calder, Picasso, Zuniga — and a host of other exquisite pieces adorn the walls and sculptures beautify other areas within the home. Gorgeous hand-crafted mosaic tile tables were custom designed to brighten and compliment indoor themes and outdoor settings. Imported rugs add warmth to the terra cotta and wooden floors. Then there’s the incredible personal library for fireside reading, a spacious central courtyard surrounded by giant agave plants, a Zen patio with a custom fountain created by Ojai artist Martha Moran, and the strobe-lighted mirrored disco ball ready for the upcoming holiday parties!  

Stepping into the lofty foyer of this Rancho Matilija home transports you from a delightful neighborhood in front to a haven of nature in back. Lush trees and majestic mountain views beckon away to another world. Hollywood memorabilia that includes a real Oscar and the Stratocaster from Wayne’s World! mingle with rustic Early California design to create a comfortable retreat that reflects the vibrant personalities of this talented and generous couple. The home truly feels like a warm and inviting nest to enjoy.


Meet the 2018 Holiday Home Tour Designers

Each year the Ojai Holiday Home Tour welcomes designers and florists, each of whom are assigned a home and tasked with bringing their own vision of décor and the holidays to life. This year (November 10-11), we have lined up the following designers Bruce Abbott, Angela’s Flowers, Carolyn Bennett of cdb gardens, Laurel Crary, Brooke Giannetti of Giannetti Home, and Ojai Blooms. If you haven’t yet purchased your tickets, call our box office at 805 646 2053, or go online here >>

Up Close: Patron Memories

The Festival continues to thrive because of the enthusiastic support of its friends and patrons. Enjoy a few snapshots of a memorable Festival moment!

Images courtesy of Frank Gruber. 

2018 Newcomer’s Reception Gallery

We always enjoy welcoming new patrons to the Festival. This year we held a Newcomer’s Reception at Porch Gallery in Ojai with wine provided by Cohen Siderow Wine Imports. View photos of the afternoon! 

“[Ojai] – Not just a great musical experience but we also found the sense of community really refreshing.” 


“Amazing: quality of music, performance of artists, conductor’s enthusiasm, ability to relate well to diverse audience and creativity. Volunteers helpful & enjoying their work. Audience appreciative & knowledgeable & eager to share their enthusiasm for the festival.”


“I was amazed that this unique music festival already has more than 70 years! I’m a musician, so I was influenced many approaching of music by Patricia’s ideas and performances. Each concert had different concepts and music styles, and made audiences satisfied. I’m hoping that I’ll be at the Ojai Music Festival in 2019!”


2018 Festival Concert Archive

2018 Audience Survey Results

Farewell to Oliver Knussen (2005 Music Director)

June 12, 1952 – July 8, 2018

Last Sunday, July 8, composer/conductor Oliver Knussen died at the tragically early age of 66. Olly, as he was known to everyone, was a giant musician – figuratively and literally. He was a bear of a man with the gentlest and kindest disposition of anyone I have ever known.

I met Olly in 1972 at Tanglewood where he was studying composition with Gunther Schuller. I well remember having dinner at a tacky Polynesian restaurant and discovering our mutual fascination for the ridiculous in classical music. We both identified the same piece we thought represented the height of awfulness – Aram Khatchaturian’s Symphony No. 3, improbably scored for huge orchestra plus fifteen antiphonal trumpets and pipe organ! Olly gleefully called me years later to say that he had found a complete score of this astonishing work. He never conducted it! This mutual discovery with Olly led to our life-long commitment to compile a list of the “100 Best Worst Pieces” of orchestral music. We also collected perfectly dreadful programs from orchestras around the world – programs that were simply breathtaking in their inanity. The list engulfed multiple pages – all real programs except for several at the end that Olly and I concocted as potential beacons of silliness. The prize went to a mythical one Olly devised of Elliot Carter’s chamber opera What’s Next followed by Hershey Kay’s ballet based on George Gershwin Who Cares! We returned to these ever-evolving projects often, and most recently, two weeks ago when I was in Aldeburgh were he lived.

Olly knew more music than anyone I have ever met. While he had opinions about all of it, I was always amazed about the breadth of his openness and curiosity for music as divergent as that of Elliott Carter or Igor Stravinsky, to music by young composers who he championed, to the music of Percy Grainger, to the orchestral transcriptions by Leopold Stokowski, to such individual gems as Morton Gould’s Tap Dance Concerto.

Olly composed pieces that were meticulously crafted, finely etched, and deeply inspired – quite unexpected from such a giant surrounded at home by literally piles of CDs, records, scores, books, papers, and a vast collection of videos. He was a master conductor, who always forged close relationships with players he conducted. He was well known for uncompromising and usual programs. How well I recall his devising the second half of a Cleveland Orchestra concert in the mid-1990’s of Edward Elgar’s symphonic poem Falstaff followed by Elgar’s uproarious arrangement of Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in C minor.

During my Cleveland Orchestra days, we collaborated in countless concerts, commissions, and recordings. It was a great honor to appoint him as my first Ojai Music Director in 2005. His health, which was becoming an increasing challenge, finally caused him to cancel a month prior to the Festival, although we were still able to produce the Festival as curated by Olly but with other conductors.

We spent much time together, and spoke often. For some reason, he always called me “Your Tom-ness,” and I called him “Your Olly-ness.” I was fortunate to have spent two long afternoons and evenings with him two weeks ago in Aldeburgh, where I found him in fine form (if more gigantic and slower than ever.) I was worried. And then Monday morning, the call I had been dreading came. Thinking of an Olly-less future is devastating, but I rejoice in the collaborations, the fun, and the enduring friendship that we enjoyed over these many long years.

I have been thinking of the final text of Olly’s Requiem – Songs for Sue, written in 2005-06 in memory of his former wife Sue who died in 2003, from Rilke’s “Requiem for a Friend”

Are you still there? In what corner are you?
You knew so much of all these things
Could do so much, as you went forth
Open for everything, like a day, which dawns.

Thomas W. Morris, artistic director 

2018 Festival Reviews

The 2018 Ojai Music Festival with Music Director Patricia Kopatchinskaja brought something new as it was dark with “bursts of brightness shining through a celebration of death and renewal.” This year, as Patricia expressed, the 72nd edition was an opportunity to bring the town and visitors together with the modernity that was presented during the four-day festival. Relive the 2018 Festival anytime by watching our archived live streaming concerts on our YouTube channel. View photos here

Feedback from our audience, artists, and members of the press is important to us. Read review excerpts, which we will continue to update as press reviews come in, or download the PDF version here.

“…the Ojai Music Festival, America’s most vibrant new-music gathering.” – The New Yorker

“Kopatchinskaja is a great violinist on a great mission. The Ojai Festival has maybe been this good, but it has never been more inclusive. It has never crammed more ideas and ideals into four days. And, at its best, it has never been better.” – Los Angeles Times

“There’s nothing quite like Ojai. The festival is to the music world what the town is to the rest of Southern California: a lovably eccentric jewel, a tiny explosion of beauty, weirdness and overkill. The art is rigorous, but the vibe is relaxed, smiling and uncrowded — part weekend getaway, part laboratory.” – New York Times

“Right from the start, early on a Thursday evening, we knew where Kopatchinskaja and this compulsively progressive-minded festival stood. Scattered around the park outside the festival’s outdoor Libbey Bowl were styrofoam replicas of tombstones of the great totems of concert life – J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler – some with their tops sawed off. A crowd gathered in the park, and Kopatchinskaja came strolling slowly down a path from the town’s main street., staring down and silently maneuvering around bewildered onlookers.” – Musical America

[reg. Bye, Bye] “The performance itself was distinguished by fresh insight, fascinating dynamics and the violinist’s pixyish personality. The resounding finale was quickly followed by the musicians nonchalantly tossing their music stands to the ground, but as someone immediately observed, not their instruments. All came forward for a very long standing ovation from an audience delighted by the innovation and passion they had witnessed.” – Ventura County Star

“This is complex, nuanced music, with stretches of quiet tension mixed with sharply phrased passages brimming with anxiety. I first heard La lontanaza performed indoors, in a converted warehouse and the atmosphere there gave the piece a sense of tension that was distinctly urban. Outdoors in Libbey Park the music lost none of its power, but rather emerged as more rustic and primal.” – Sequenza 21

“Ojai Music Festival’s mixture of aesthetics with nature gives off mellow vibes, especially at Libbey Bowl, the primary venue where concerts are held in a park surrounded by oak trees. Just go with the flow: sit or crumple in a blanket on the grass, where discreet monitors with speakers were positioned.” – Miroirs

“From its opening cadenza to its closing cadenza, this was an Ojai Festival that raised issues, had remarkable moments of musical illumination, and pushed buttons in the name of an art ideal that raises consciousness. Some found it provocative. Some were angry. Everyone was talking.” – San Francisco Classical Voice

“She is a fast-rising figure on the international music scene, an organically inspired virtuoso and naturally rebellious innovator, keen to shake things up on many levels…” – Santa Barbara News Press

“He dazzled with a sequence of performances on piano, of Shostakovich, Crumb, and Ligeti. The finale of this portion of the evening came when Romaniuk was joined by the JACK Quartet for Henry Purcell’s Fantasia No. 10 in C Minor, a brilliant and moving preview of the blend of eras that would characterize Saturday evening’s early program as well. – Santa Barbara Independent




Report From Aldeburgh

Thomas W. Morris
June 21, 2018

I am writing this to you from the miraculous concert Hall at the Maltings Snape, home of the Aldeburgh Festival. The artists all arrived from San Francisco on Monday and enjoyed a well-deserved day of rest on Tuesday in this incredible seaside fishing town on the Suffolk coast, northeast of London. The first rehearsal and concert was yesterday (THU) and featured the Bartok/Stravinsky/Machaut/Ligeti program that closed the Ojai Music Festival June 10. The concert was a dramatically energetic success, with extended curtain calls and applause from the sold out hall. I was proud to showcase our distinctive Ojai programming to this discerning audience.

The artists are still absolutely glowing about their experience in Ojai – they all continued to express wonder at the intensity of the musical experience, the stunning beauty of the place, and the totally unique energy of our audiences. On June 12, we all traveled to Berkeley for the eighth Ojai at Berkeley, in which four concerts were performed with our partners Cal Performances in Zellerbach Hall. Featured were Bye Bye Beethoven, the Michael Hersch commission, Bartok/Stravinsky/Machaut/Ligeti closing concert as well as the concert of Moldovan folk music with Patricia and her parents. These same programs have been brought to Aldeburgh. As part of the ongoing creative process for a new piece, Michael made some significant changes to his piece for Berkeley that really heightened its emotional impact. Berkeley audiences were thrilled with all the concerts. The visit did have a bittersweet element for me as it represented the concluding concerts in Cal Performance’s Director Matias Tarnopolsky’s remarkable nine-year tenure in Berkeley. Matias departs shortly for his new position as President & CEO of the Philadelphia Orchestra. I thank Matias for his friendship and strong advocacy of our partnership, which not only extends the Ojai brand but makes our programming available to even wider audiences.

Last night I saw the first Ojai performance at the three-week Aldeburgh Festival. This remarkable festival was founded 71 years ago – very similar to Ojai’s 72-year heritage. The founder and guiding spirit of the Festival was composer Benjamin Britten who lived in Aldeburgh. Home for the Festival since 1967 has been the Maltings in Snape, a small inland town five miles from Aldeburgh. Prior to 1967 concerts were held in various small town venues and churches. The Maltings is an enormous collection of buildings that once housed a brewery. The 850-seat concert hall, the first Maltings building acquired and renovated, is home to the most remarkable acoustics of almost any concert hall in the world, and is the favored performance and recording venue for many of the world’s greatest artists and ensembles. The Festival gradually acquired the rest of the Maltings site over the years, building several additional performance and studio spaces, as well as hotel, condominium and retail facilities.

Activities at the Maltings have been expanded year round through performances and a massive educational program. The whole site has indeed become a self-contained artistic village and is a destination each year to almost 500,000 people. Snape and Aldeburgh have the same magical atmosphere as Ojai, as well as the same programming profile and a devoted, engaged audience. Listening last night clearly demonstrated the acoustic of this magical room are indeed overwhelming. Aldeburgh is perfect new partner for Ojai. It was great to see our artists – Patricia, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Ah Young Hong and Kiera Duffy – actively and enthusiastically touting their Ojai experiences to others. The bond we form with artists is indeed unique, palpable, and real.

– Thomas W. Morris

“The Ojai Music Festival is a place for discoveries……This year’s musical director is Patricia Kopatchinskaja, a Moldovan violinist who’s been called the “wild child of classical violin.” And Kopatchinskaja has a special affinity for the music of Ustvolskaya.”

Discover the Music of Galina Ustvolskaya at the Ojai Music Festival

2018 Festival Photos

Here are some photos from this year’s Festival!  Many thanks to David Bazemore and Stephen Adams for images.

The Lawn Experience: Tips and FAQ


Thank you for being a part of our Festival lawn area! The lawn is a special experience for Festival patrons – it’s the place to enjoy a picnic before the concert; meet with a group of friends or family; and lie down to stargaze while enjoying the Festival’s music.

To help you enjoy the lawn, here are some things to know:

  • The right side of the lawn is designated for taller chairs and the left side for low-rise chairs.  (A low-rise, beach-style chair is a chair with legs of 10 inches or shorter and an overall height limit of 28 inches.) Patrons with higher-rise chairs, such as camping or deck chairs, will be asked to move to the right side or rear of the lawn so as not to hinder the views of others.
  • Line up early! Lawn lines start as early as two hours before a concert begins. There are two lines for lawn patrons – the left is designated for lawn series subscribers with an access pass and the right for single pass holders.
  • Save your place! Lawn series pass subscribers have the opportunity to save their spot on the lawn between the morning and evening concerts; please use the “Save My Spot” card mailed with your passes.
  • Store it! If you are attending two concerts in one day, you can also place your lawn chairs and blankets near the lawn entrance gate between concerts.  Please do not leave personal belongings as Festival staff cannot be responsible for items left unattended.
  • The Libbey Bowl and Park is a no-smoking and alcohol-free zone designated by the City of Ojai.
  • Ojai weather can be quite unpredictable! During the evening concerts we highly recommend bringing a warm blanket and for the day bringing sunscreen and wearing a hat in case it gets too hot.
  • At the Festival there are food vendors who will have a variety of light food options and beverages. For a greater variety, you can head to the various eateries within walking distance from the Bowl. Visit www.OjaiFestival.org for suggestions.
  • We’re happy to have children enjoy concerts; however, we know they can become restless! If your child needs to stretch their legs, please take them outside the Bowl so as not to disrupt the concert experience for other lawn patrons.


Thank you and enjoy!