Honoring a long-held spirit of pushing boundaries with artists, music, ideas, and audiences, the Festival celebrates its milestone 70th year by broadening the roster of artists, continuing a focus on concerts for the community, and expanding the Festival’s geographic reach
Ojai welcomes Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and showcases her works throughout the Festival including the US premiere of the chamber version of La Passion de Simone
Ojai presents a commissioned work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw Don’t Let Me Be Lonely with text by Claudia Rankine, the world premiere of Josephine Baker: A Portrait with arrangements and music by multi-instrumentalist/composer Tyshawn Sorey, a new work by Cuban composer/conductor Tania León for Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA) and ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble)
ICE and the Calder Quartet return on the heels of their 2015 Festival appearances, and Ojai welcomes back alumni soprano Julia Bullock and violinist/vocalist Carla Kihlstedt
Ojai debuts include vocalist/composer Leila Adu, Egyptian singer Dina El Wedidi, flutist Camilla Hoitenga, Grammy-winning vocal collective Roomful of Teeth, baritone Davone Tines, Indian Carnatic singer Aruna Sairam, Flex dancer Sam I Am, and Youth Orchestra LA (YOLA)
In its sixth season, Cal Performances’ Ojai at Berkeley is slated for June 16 to 18, 2016 following the Ojai Music Festival
“The Ojai Valley has long been recognized as a rare and beautiful natural site that invites retreat, renewal, and regeneration, from Chumash ceremonial life to Krishnamurti’s legendary talks under the trees. The valley has both a grandeur and a human scale that inspire and allow the deepest human questions to resonate, and create a setting for the most personal search for answers. The magical play of light across the canyon and the heady aroma of orange blossoms bring the senses to life, awaken the mind, and create a profound aura of openness and well-being. Music incites many of the same thoughts and emotions, with similar immensity and intimacy and awe. The 70th Ojai Music Festival will gather this powerful energy and spirit of inquiry and reflection into a weekend of peak experiences and secret revelations.”
– Peter Sellars, 2016 Music Director
OJAI, CA (UPDATE APRIL 6, 2016) —The 70th Ojai Music Festival (June 9-12, 2016) with Music Director Peter Sellars pays tribute to a defining hallmark of the Festival – reimagining each year by affording the appointed music director creative freedom to explore their artistic interests and collaborations. Acclaimed opera and theatre director Peter Sellars’ vision for the upcoming Festival honors its long-held spirit of challenging audiences musically and intellectually in a celebration of music in the context of our world today.
Festival Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris says, “The festival that Peter has devised pushes all the right boundaries of the Ojai Music Festival on its 70th anniversary. This will be a festival building on the heritage of past achievements, but more importantly, laying the groundwork for an even more exciting future.”
Peter Sellars has long been known for infusing his music and opera productions with contemporary ideas and social issues. Believing that most classical music is grounded in spiritual and political contexts, he includes a variety of perspectives in his work. He says, “Art was invented as a way to face really difficult things with a sense that in facing them, you’ve already started the healing process.” As such, The 70th Festival embraces opening up to new ideas, new music, new audiences, and new communities.
Mr. Sellars is one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the arts, both in America and abroad. His partnership with Ojai dates back to 1992 when he directed a daring version of Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat with Music Director Pierre Boulez. Returning to Ojai in 2011 with Music Director Dawn Upshaw, he directed the critically acclaimed world premiere of the staged production of George Crumb’s song cycle, The Winds of Destiny.
Works by Kaija Saariaho
Concerts throughout the Festival will feature the work of Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho, a frequent collaborator of Peter Sellars. He describes her featured work saying:
“For the first time, composer Kaija Saariaho will come to Ojai. We will feature one of her most potent and visionary works. Her new chamber version of La Passion de Simone, a meditation on the life of the courageous French philosopher Simone Weil, written to a wise and humane text by Amin Maalouf, will receive its American premiere with the extraordinary young soprano Julia Bullock. It is a work of startling integrity and permanent challenge in dark times, with a flame of hope that burns brightly and intensely in the darkness. The fierce commitment and brilliance of that flame will be embodied by ICE and Roomful of Teeth, conducted by Joana Carneiro.
Kaija Saariaho’s Only the Sound Remains, which was previously announced as part of the 2016 Festival, has been cancelled due to the new work’s technical and musical complexities, and the limitations of the outdoor venue in Ojai. Commenting on the cancellation of Only the Sound Remains, Mr. Morris said, “As completed, the new work is far more complicated than anyone had anticipated, and involves very complex and sophisticated spatial sound processing. With great reluctance, Peter Sellars and I have determined that such needs are beyond the inherent limitations of an outdoor venue.”
Ojai is pleased to announce additional performances, including a free late night event, featuring vocalist Leila Adu on Friday, June 10, 10:30pm, at the Libbey Bowl. On Saturday, June 11, a concert at the Zalk Theater at Besant Hill will feature the Calder Quartet and Davone Tines performing works of Christine Southworth, Caroline Shaw, and Leila Adu. Patrons currently holding tickets to the cancelled performance of Only the Sound Remains will be given priority access to tickets for these two events.
The Festival is offering multiple ways for patrons to handle previously purchased tickets of the Only the Sound Remains, including refunds, exchanges, or tax-deductible donations. Patrons can contact the box office at 805 646 2053 for additional details.
Ojai Debuts and New Works
Making their Ojai debuts in June will be the Egyptian singer Dina El Wedidi and Indian Carnatic singer Aruna Sairam. In Peter Sellars’ words:
“From Tahrir Square in Cairo, Dina El Wedidi and her band come to America to present a new song cycle that paints a personal picture of the realities, aspirations, disappointments, and determination of the Egyptian revolution. Dina El Wedidi epitomizes the new Egyptian women of a rising generation, her unmistakable voice alive with courage, allure, and the breath of freedom. Her band includes traditional Egyptian and modern electronic instruments.
We are thrilled to welcome to Ojai one of the most revered, beloved, surprising, and progressive stars of South Indian music. Aruna Sairam traces her artistic and spiritual lineages from some of the great gurus of the female vocal tradition, both within her own family and across multiple strands of Indian music. She also collaborates with folk artists, electronic ensembles, and pioneering jazz musicians such as Vijay Iyer. This is a woman who lives and moves in many worlds and holds them all magically on the breath. South Indian music is itself a spiritual quest, a philosophical journey, and an evolving state of ecstasy, rapture, and atonement. Aruna Sairam is one of the masters whose long, sinuous vocal line delineates a past that rises spontaneously in her breath as the future.”
Newly announced artists who will also make their Ojai debuts include Leila Adu, a New Zealand composer of Ghanaian descent. With a “voice like hot treacle on broken glass”, she has performed her original piano songs and improvisations worldwide. Based in Brooklyn, she is a currently a Princeton doctoral fellow and also teaches music to prisoners at Sing Sing Correctional Facility as a faculty member of Musicambia – Music as Social Change in Incarcerated Communities.
Ojai audiences will also welcome bass-baritone Davone Tines. Mr. Tines is building an international career commanding a broad spectrum of opera and concert performance from early music to adventurous contemporary works. Upcoming engagements include the workshopping and premiere of Crossing: A New American Opera for The American Repertory Theater directed by Diane Paulus, and his European debut with the Munich Philharmonic and the premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Only the Sound Remains by the Dutch National Opera in March, directed Peter Sellars. Mr. Tines is a 2009 graduate of Harvard University and 2013 Master of Music graduate of The Juilliard School.
In addition to Ms. Adu and Mr. Tines, Ojai is pleased to announce the debut of flutist Camilla Hoitenga.
Ms. Hoitenga is at home on stages worldwide, playing not only the C-flute, but also the alto, bass, and piccolo flutes, in addition to other varieties of her instrument. Her repertoire ranges from pre-Bach to post-Stockhausen. Her recordings, in particular those with Kaija Saariaho, have won awards in France, Great Britain, and North America. She has performed concertos written for her by composers such as Kaija Saariaho, Péter Köszeghy, Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi, and Raminta Serksnyte.
Soprano Julia Bullock will be featured in the world premiere of Josephine Baker: A Portrait, with new music and arrangements for ICE by composer/multi-instrumentalist Tyshawn Sorey. Peter says of the work:
“Julia Bullock will be at the center of a unique and poignant evening honoring the brilliance, daring, public courage, and private tragedies of Josephine Baker, the black icon who created a singing, dancing declaration of independence with her black body, and blazed a trail of irresistible challenge and charm in France in the same years that Simone Weil pursued her feminist vigil on behalf of a larger humanity. Our Ojai evening will be a very personal portrait of Josephine as a fearless fighter for civil rights and a visionary who paid dearly for every forward step. Musical arrangements and original music for the evening will be crafted by the brilliant multi-instrumentalist/composer Tyshawn Sorey.”
“This year’s Festival will have its rituals. At mid-day there will be concerts of the kaleidoscopic and more rarely performed chamber works of Kaija Saariaho. The later afternoons will offer music of longing and consolation. Caroline Shaw’s works will be paired with Carla Kihlstedt’s phosphorescent exploration of dream worlds, At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire, and Du Yun’s peeling away the surface of the world in An Empty Garlic.
Claudia Rankine’s seminal book, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, inspires another Ojai commission, a new vocal work by Caroline Shaw. Intensely personal, under the skin states of emotion, memory, and hope emerge in Caroline Shaw’s body of work as well as in her body – Caroline Shaw’s music is drawn from her voice, from her throat, from her heart, her pulse, and her blood. Her new work will once again be composed for the ensemble Roomful of Teeth, who will also be reprising her Pulitzer Prize winning Partita for 8 Voices for Ojai.”
An addition to this year’s Festival schedule is Pauline Oliveros’ Sonic Meditations, which will lead the Friday and Sunday mornings, realized by ICE and performed at Meditation Mount.
On Sunday afternoon (June 12), the Festival will present an extremely rarified American premiere of Canadian composer Claude Vivier’s Kopernikus, performed by Roomful of Teeth and ICE, and conducted by Eric Dudley. The performance will be joined by renowned Flex dancer Sam I Am who captivated audiences in FLEXN at the Park Avenue Armory a year ago. The New York Times hailed his “breathtaking lyricism, an unearthly mix of lightness and weight that pools in his big, sad eyes.” Peter describes the work as:
“Based on his own libretto, Claude Vivier’s Kopernikus is an uncategorizable, genre-defying opera/ritual. The posthumous discovery and rediscovery of Vivier’s clairvoyant, tragic, and otherworldly music has brought the dawning realization that the world lost a great composer with his appalling and premature death in 1983. A generation later, his music speaks with a fresh and searing clarity that transcends time – it is medieval and it is modern, it is bizarre and it is Balinese, it is carnal and it is Canadian. And it remains just beyond our earthly sphere. Seven instruments and seven vocalists portray Agni the Hindu God of Fire, Lewis Carroll, Merlin, the Queen of the Night, a blind prophet, an old monk, Tristan and Isolde, Mozart, the Master of the High Seas, and Copernicus and Copernicus’ mother. Claude Vivier’s project: “start again at the beginning, really put the world to rights, rediscover sensitivity.” To quote Copernicus’ mother, “the world is getting ready for a huge change, would you like to participate?”
Free Concerts for the Ojai Community
On Sunday morning (June 12), the Festival will present for the first time two free events for families as part of the regular Festival schedule, at the Ojai Art Center and in the Libbey Bowl:
“The final Sunday of the Festival will shift into an exuberant children’s festival for the first half of the day, featuring music written and performed by, with, and for children and anyone who is ready to listen to the world with fresh ears. The doyenne of the toy piano, Phyllis Chen, will compose, perform, and trigger a participatory cascade of toy piano mania and magnificence. Next, YOLA, the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s essential and ebullient Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA) comes up to Ojai to join forces with ICE in performing a newly commissioned work by the celebrated and sensational Cuban-born composer Tania León, followed by a second world premiere of a new work written by young Los Angeles composer Sharon Hurvitz.”
Free Street Party Concert in Santa Paula
On Sunday evening following the concerts at the Libbey Bowl, the Festival will present a free street party on the main street of neighboring Santa Paula – a half-hour drive east – featuring ICE, Dina El Wedidi, Aruna Sairam, Roomful of Teeth, Leila Adu, and other artists, expanding the geographic boundaries of the Festival.
“The Festival will then expand and flow into a huge street party in the adjacent town of Santa Paula, culminating in the sheer communal pleasure of the joy of improvisation, increasingly wild juxtapositions, spontaneous jam sessions, and very, very good times.”
Ideas: Ojai Talks, Transformation Talks, Concert Insights
Ojai Talks will launch the Festival on Thursday, June 9 with Ojai Talks Director Ara Guzelimian in conversation with Peter Sellars and Kaija Saariaho, at the Ojai Valley Community Church. Preceding the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday concerts on the Libbey Bowl stage will be Transformation Talks: Light into Darkness, Darkness into Light – a series of discussions with prominent guest panelists moderated by Peter Sellars and distinguished musicologist Susan McClary. Concert Insights with Christopher Hailey interviewing featured artists will take place before the afternoon concerts at the Libbey Park Tennis Courts.
Ojai at Berkeley
Marking the sixth year of artistic partnership, Ojai at Berkeley celebrates the dynamic nature of the Ojai Music Festival and of Cal Performances. As two distinct communities with similar values, Ojai and Berkeley are both known for intrepid artistic discovery, spirited intellect, and enduring engagement in the arts. Inaugurated in 2011, Ojai at Berkeley is a joint force that enables co-commissions and co-productions and allows artists to achieve more than could be imagined by each organization separately. Ojai at Berkeley follows the 2016 Ojai Music Festival and will take place from June 18 to 20 in Berkeley, CA. For more information visit CalPerformances.org.
Festival single tickets are available for the 2016 Festival and may be purchased online or by calling (805) 646-2053. Tickets range from $40 to $150 for reserved seating and lawn tickets are $15.