Big plans in Ojai for the next few years

Big names and even bigger ideas will return to Ojai year after year, according to the festival’s new statement about their upcoming directors.

The independent summer fest, scheduled this year for June 9 to 12, takes classical music to new levels on an annual basis, a feat that is due in no small part to the string of visionary artists who have served as each year’s music director.  This year is headed up by none other than Peter Sellars, and of course, anticipation is high.  But even he has big shoes to fill, as he follows the likes of Mark Morris (2013) and Steven Schick (2014), which are only the most recent  guest gurus.

Tip:  Get your tickets early.  This season will likely sell out, pronto.  The press release and various details follow.


[Press release]

Ojai Music Festival Announces Music Directors Through 75th Festival

Vijay Iyer: 71st Festival, June 8 to 11, 2017
Esa-Pekka Salonen: 72nd Festival, June 7 to 10, 2018
Barbara Hannigan: 73rd Festival, June 6 to 9, 2019
Patricia Kopatchinskaja: 74th Festival, June 11 to 14, 2020
Mitsuko Uchida: 75th Festival, June 10 to 13, 2021

“Ojai prides itself on the wide-ranging breadth and depth of its music directors – from conductors, composers, instrumentalists, choreographers, and theater directors to established musical personalities and emerging artists of the future. The fundamental requirements to serve as a music director are to be a serious and curious musical artist of unquestioned excellence and to fully embrace a sense of adventure. He or she must be someone whose musical predilections will surprise, provoke, and delight. Soprano/conductor Barbara Hannigan, violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja and pianist Mitsuko Uchida fulfill these requirements – and along with Peter Sellars, Vijay Iyer, and Esa-Pekka Salonen – will bring to the Ojai Music Festival a truly distinctive and distinguished artistic arc through its 75th anniversary in 2021.”
– Thomas W. Morris, Artistic Director

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(FEBRUARY 9, 2016) — As the Ojai Music Festival anticipates the upcoming 70th Festival (June 9-12, 2016) with Music Director Peter Sellars, Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris announces the artists who will serve as Music Directors through the Festival’s 75th anniversary in 2021. Following previously announced future music directors Vijay Iyer (June 8-11, 2017) and Esa-Pekka Salonen(June 7-10, 2018), soprano/conductor Barbara Hannigan will be the 2019 music director (June 6-9), violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja in 2020 (June 11-14) and pianist Mitsuko Uchida in 2021 (June 10-13). Since the late 1940’s, the Ojai Music Festival’s tradition has been to welcome a new Music Director each year to ensure vitality and diversity in programming across Festivals.

Soprano/conductor Barbara Hannigan is known worldwide as a soprano of vital expressive force directed by exceptional technique. She is now bringing that same high energy and expertise to her varied activities as a conductor, while continuing to work as a singer with the most prominent conductors and theater directors. Blessed with a voice at once pure and fiery, she has arrived, through challenging and diverse repertory choices, at a point of complete control, intensity, and versatility. Much sought after in contemporary music (she has given more than 80 world premieres – many of which she has commissioned), she is no less brilliant and devoted a performer of Baroque and music from the Classical era. Bringing freshness to older music and authority to new, she is among the very few singers whose every performance is an occasion. She is a frequent guest of the Berliner Philharmoniker, which recently commissioned the song cycle let me tell you by Hans Abrahamsen, who won the prestigious Grawemeyer Award and is being widely performed around the world. In 2014 she had the rare honor of an invitation as Artiste Étoile to the Lucerne Festival, where she conducted, gave master classes, and premiered an orchestral work written for her by Unsuk Chin. György Ligeti and Henri Dutilleux both regarded her as their soprano of choice. Her startling performances of Ligeti’s Mysteries of the Macabre have been acclaimed widely, as has her expressive fullness in Dutilleux’s Correspondances. Her recording of this work has garnered awards from Gramophone, Edison, and Victoires de la Musique. Other awards include “Sängerin des Jahres” (Opernwelt, 2013) and “Personalité Musicale de l’Année” (Syndicat de la Presse Francaise, 2012). She has worked extensively with Pierre Boulez, George Benjamin, Gerald Barry, Salvatore Sciarrino, Pascal Dusapin, and Hans Abrahamsen, among many others.

In 2020, violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja will make her Ojai debut. Kopatchinskaja‘s versatility shows itself in her diverse repertoire, ranging from baroque and classical often played on gut strings, to new commissions and re-interpretations of modern masterworks. Winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist of the Year Award in 2014, Kopatchinskaja made her debut with the Berliner Philharmoniker in the 2014/15 season performing Peter Eötvös’ DoReMi under the baton of the composer as part of Musikfest Berlin. Other highlights that season included her debut with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and performances with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR/Sir Roger Norrington, and the Philharmonia Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy. She was also Artist-in-Residence with the hr-sinfonieorchester during the 2014/15 season. In spring 2015 Kopatchinskaja toured with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and with the Orchestre des Champs-Élysées. Kopatchinskaja was recently named as Artistic Partner of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Chamber music is of immense importance to Kopatchinskaja’s artistic life and her regular chamber partners include Sol Gabetta, Markus Hinterhäuser, and Polina Leschenko, as well as members of her own family. Kopatchinskaja records exclusively for Naïve Classique. Releases this season include “Take Two!” – a disc of unusual duets with different instruments– and a recording of works by Galina Ustvolskaya with Markus Hinterhäuser for ECM.

Pianist/conductor Mitsuko Uchida will return to Ojai in 2021, the Festival’s 75th anniversary. Uchida last performed at the 2004 Festival and was co-music director in 1998. A superlative interpreter of classical, early romantic, and second Viennese School repertoire, Mitsuko Uchida performs with the world’s most respected orchestras and conductors including Cleveland, Chicago, Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, Bayerischer Rundfunk, London Symphony, Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, Pierre Boulez, Bernard Haitink, Mariss Jansons, Riccardo Muti, Sir Simon Rattle, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. A regular recitalist in Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, London, New York, and Tokyo, she is also a regular guest at the Salzburg Mozartwoche and Salzburg and Edinburgh International Festivals. Uchida records exclusively for Decca and has won many awards, including several Grammys. A trustee of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust and Director of Marlboro Music Festival, Uchida was awarded the Golden Mozart Medal from the Stiftung Mozarteum in Salzburg and the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association in 2015. She was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2012 and received an Honorary Degree from the University of Cambridge in 2014. Mitsuko Uchida was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2009.

The 2016 Ojai Music Festival (June 9-12)
The Ojai Music Festival marks its 70th year this June with Peter Sellars, one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the arts both in America and abroad, as Music Director. Sellars’ partnership with Ojai dates back to 1992, when he directed a daring version of Stravinsky’s Histoire du soldat with Music Director Pierre Boulez. He returned to Ojai in 2011 to direct the critically acclaimed world premiere of the staged production of George Crumb’s The Winds of Destiny with Music Director Dawn Upshaw.

The milestone 70th Ojai Music Festival (June 9-12, 2016) 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. Sellars’ vision for the upcoming Festival honors its long-held spirit of challenging audiences musically and intellectually.

The Festival welcomes Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and showcases her works including the American premieres of the chamber version of La Passion de Simone and her newest dramatic creation Only the Sound Remains. Highlights include a commissioned work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, and the world premiere of Josephine Baker: A Personal Portrait with arrangements and music by multi-instrumentalist/composer Tyshawn Sorey. For the complete program, visit Following the 70th Festival in Ojai, Cal Performances’ Ojai at Berkeley takes place from June 16 to 18.

Vijay Iyer
The 2017 Festival introduces composer-pianist Vijay Iyer (pronounced “VID-jay EYE-yer”) as Music Director. A Grammy nominee, Iyer was named DownBeat Magazine’s 2015 Artist of the Year and 2014 Pianist of the Year, a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, and a 2012 Doris Duke Performing Artist. He has released twenty recordings under his own name. The latest, on the ECM label, include Mutations, featuring his compositions for piano, string quartet, and electronics; Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi, a film by Prashant Bhargava, with Iyer’s score performed by ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble); and Break Stuff, featuring the Vijay Iyer Trio. His next record is a duo record with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, for release in March 2016 on ECM. Iyer is the Franklin D. and Florence Rosenblatt Professor of the Arts in the Department of Music at Harvard University, and the director of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music. His compositions have been commissioned by Arturo O’Farrill, American Composers Orchestra, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Brentano Quartet, Brooklyn Rider, Imani Winds, ICE, Jennifer Koh, and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. He is a Steinway artist.

Esa-Pekka Salonen
Conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen returns to Ojai in 2018 as Music Director. One of today’s foremost artists, Salonen made his Ojai debut as Music Director in 1999 with composer-in-residence Magnus Lindberg in a program dedicated to Finnish music, and later returned in 2001 to serve again as music director. Salonen is currently the Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor for London’s Philharmonia Orchestra, Conductor Laureate for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where he served as Music Director for 17 years, and the Marie-Josée Kravis Composer-in-Residence of the New York Philharmonic. Through his unwavering dedication to new music and technology, he is a revitalizing force, striving to bring the symphony orchestra into the 21st century. His compositions move freely between contemporary idioms, combining intricacy and technical virtuosity with playful rhythmic and melodic innovations. Salonen’s Floof and LA Variations have become modern classics, and his newest compositions are performed around the globe.

Thomas W. Morris, Artistic Director
Thomas W. Morris was appointed Artistic Director of the Ojai Music Festival starting with the 2004 Festival. Morris is recognized as one of the most innovative leaders in the orchestra industry and served as the long-time 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. As Artistic Director, he is responsible for artistic planning and each year appoints a music director with whom he collaborates on shaping the Festival’s programming. During his decade-long tenure, audiences have increased and the scope of the Festival has expanded, most recently to include a collaborative partnership, Ojai at Berkeley, with Cal Performances at UC Berkeley. Morris was a founding director of Spring for Music and served as the project’s artistic director. He served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Curtis Institute of Music and as chair of its Board of Overseers, and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Interlochen Center for the Arts. He is also an accomplished percussionist.

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 music by today’s composers. The four-day festival is a complete 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.

The Ojai Music Festival attracts the world’s greatest musical artists. 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, and Steven Schick. Following the upcoming 70th Festival with Peter Sellars, Ojai will welcome MacArthur Fellow Vijay Iyer in 2017 and Esa-Pekka Salonen in 2018 as its music directors.

Experience the 70th Ojai Music Festival (June 9-12)
Festival series passes allow patrons to have immersive experiences with music, pre-concert talks, discussions, social gatherings, and an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Ojai Valley. 2016 Ojai Festival passes, from four-day, three-day to weekend, are available through March 1. Single tickets go on sale in the spring. For more information go online at or by calling (805) 646-2053.

Directions to Ojai and Libbey Bowl, as well as information about lodging, concierge services for visitors and other Ojai activities, are also available on the Festival website. Follow Festival updates at, Facebook (, and Twitter (@ojaifestivals).

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View the press release and leave comments on the festival’s website by clicking here.

Featured photo credit: Courtesy of the Ojai Visitors Bureau

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