LSM Newswire

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Final Programming for 2009 Ojai Music Festival (June 11-14) Announced




“an electrifying confluence of artists, music, theater and ideas”

(Thomas W. Morris)

March 11, 2009– Ojai, California…Thomas W. Morris, artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival and Ojai’s 2009 music director eighth blackbird have announced the final programming for the 2009 Ojai Music Festival, which takes place from Thursday, June 11 to Sunday, June 14, 2009. This season, the four-day Festival, which for six decades has become well known for its fearlessness in championing pioneering musical ideas and personalities, pushes the envelope again with programming that reflects the qualities that have made eighth blackbird a growing musical phenomenon—genre-defying variety in wildly collaborative and visually dramatic presentations.

Mr. Morris and eighth blackbird have gathered many of today’s finest musicians, ensembles, and composers for what Mr. Morris describes as “a wild and diverse musical party of extraordinary talents.” Among them are freewheeling chamber ensemble Tin Hat; the matchless recorder quartet from Berlin, QNG; American pianist Jeremy Denk; composer/guitarist Steven Mackey, actor/singer Rinde Eckert, and renowned sound sculptor Trimpin.

In programming the Festival, eighth blackbird flutist Tim Munro explains, “Variety is important. We talk often about creating a well-balanced meal—not too salty or spicy or sweet—where all elements combine.” The result is a Festival of music that is both fresh and familiar presented with a time-honored Ojai Music Festival aesthetic. The centerpiece of the Festival is the world premiere of a work co-commissioned by the Ojai Music Festival—Steven Mackey’s Slide*—a concert-length, multidisciplinary, music/theater work about the seduction and manipulation of the American psyche, which Mr. Eckert describes as “concert theater, distinct from an oratorio for its involvement of the instrumentalists as theatrical role players.”

Also featured in the Festival will be such treasured masterpieces of the repertoire as J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations performed by Jeremy Denk in his Festival debut, the world premiere of a semi-staged performance of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire directed by Mark DeChiazza with speaker Lucy Shelton doing sprechstimme, and Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians.

The Festival opens and closes with concerts that are distinctively the mark of eighth blackbird. The opening concert includes Thierry de Mey’s Musique de Tables, John Luther Adams’s Dark Waves, Takemitsu’s Rain Tree, and George Crumb’s Music for a Summer Evening. The Festival closes with a four-hour Marathon Finale in three parts, featuring all Festival artists in a visual and aural display of fearless virtuosity and unconventional music-making, highlighted by Reich’s Double Sextet written for eighth blackbird, Lisa Bielawa’s Kafka Songs performed by Tin Hat’s Carla Kihlstedt; John Cage’s Construction No. 3, as well as a new work by Nathan Davis for Trimpin and his sculptural creations. Capping the Festival will be Louis Andriessen’s highly charged Workers Union.

Ara Guzelimian, dean of the Juilliard School and former artistic director of the Ojai Festival, will moderate the Festival Symposium, which takes place this year at the Matilija Auditorium. Mr. Guzelimian will discuss The Creation of Slide with Steven Mackey and Rinde Eckert, The Creation of a Festival with eighth blackbird, and finally, The Creation of a Performance with Jeremy Denk.

Trimpin, the innovative MacArthur Foundation Award-winning sound sculptor/composer/inventor, returns to Ojai with two interactive art and sound installations in Libbey Park—“Sheng High” and “Giuter-Toy.” He will also be featured in one of three free Ojai bonus events at the Ojai Theater—a sneak preview of an upcoming feature-length documentary. The two other bonus events are “Trembling Air” featuring flutists Tim Munro and Alexis Kenny in a concert showcasing the diversity of the flute and “BREATHtaking” with QNG in a concert of contemporary repertoire for recorders of all sizes and shapes, which includes the world premiere of a work commissioned for them from composer Éric Marty by the Canada Council for the Arts

Concerts will take place outdoors at the Libbey Bowl under a canopy of live oaks and safeguarded by the sacred “Wedding” tree, a sycamore thought to have taken root when the first “Americans” set foot on our shores. Other events will be held at Libbey Park, the Ojai Theater and Matilija Auditorium, the site of the original Festival concerts in 1947.

Concert Insights—Musicologist Christopher Hailey and featured artists will engage in a discussion about every Libbey Bowl concert one hour before each of those performances.

2009 Ojai Music Festival Programs

Thursday, June 11, 2009

6:00 p.m. Libbey Park

Trimpin will give the first of two free, live demonstrations of two new interactive sound sculptures created for the Ojai Music Festival. The first is “Sheng High.” Based on the ancient Chinese instrument, the sheng, the music produced by “Sheng High” is activated by a motion sensor. At the same time, an arm moving over an eight-foot disc on the floor of the instrument allows viewers to see and hear the composition simultaneously. The second instrument is “Giuter-Toy,” made from modified plastic toy guitars in all colors. The buttons on the toys are replaced with switches and then hooked up to a computer, producing compositions incorporating 80 different sounds, from musical notes to singing, talking, hip hop sounds, drumming, etc. The music is activated by inserting a coin.

8:00 p.m. Libbey Bowl – Opening Concert

The Ojai Music Festival opens with a program demonstrating how nature inspires the creation of beautiful music with John Luther Adams’s Dark Waves; Takemitsu’s Rain Tree, George Crumb’s Music for a Summer Evening, and Thierry de Mey’s Musique de Tables.

Friday, June 12, 2009

1:00 to Matilija Auditorium – Symposium-Session I

2:00 p.m. Ara Guzelimian in conversation with Steven Mackey and Rinde Eckert – The Creation of Slide

2:15 to Matilija Auditorium – Symposium-Session II

3:15 p.m. Ara Guzelimian in conversation with eighth blackbird – The Creation of a Festival

3:30 to Matilija Auditorium – Symposium-Session III

4:30 p.m. Ara Guzelimian in conversation with Jeremy Denk – The Creation of a Performance

8:00 p.m. Libbey Bowl – Tin Hat Sets Stage for Slide* World Premiere

Tin Hat sets the evening’s stage with an eclectic mix of chamber music with their improvisational stamp. The world premiere of Slide follows. An Ojai Music Festival co-commission, composer/guitarist Steven Mackey, actor/singer Rinde Eckert, and eighth blackbird are featured in this audacious music-theater collaboration with the instrumentalists doubling as theatrical role players.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

11:00 a.m. Libbey Bowl – Jeremy Denk Contrasts Bach and Ives

In what he describes as “a painterly contrast,” pianist Jeremy Denk will pair Bach’s “luminous and serene” Goldberg Variations with the “raucous” Ives Sonata No. 1. Though written a century apart, Mr. Denk calls both “spartan and spiritual.”

2:00 p.m. Ojai Theater – “Trembling Air” – Bonus Event

Flutists Tim Munro from eighth blackbird’s and Australia’s Alexis Kenny play a program that stretches the flute to unimaginable limits, even transforming it into a drumset in Harold Meltzer’s Trapset.

4:30 p.m. Ojai Theater – Trimpin Private Screening – Bonus Event

A preview of an upcoming documentary about the life and work of Trimpin is a special presentation for Festival attendees only.

8:00 p.m. Libbey Bowl – Pierrot Lunaire and West Coast Premiere of Quasi Sinfonia

This concert opens with eighth blackbird performing the West Coast premiere of David M. Gordon’s Quasi Sinfonia, a modern take on the traditional symphony, which includes such “alternate instruments” as harmonicas; pitch pipes; kazoos; slide whistles; duck, deer, and goose calls and three melodicas. It follows with a semi-staged and costumed performance of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with speaker Lucy Shelton, directed by Mark DeChiazza and described by eighth blackbird as “a work of fevered intensity, dark gallows humor and touching pathos.”

11:00 p.m. Ojai Theater – “BREATHtaking” – Bonus Event

QNG—Quartet for New Generation—will showcase the recorder in all its forms in an innovative program entitled “BREATHtaking.” The program includes two works by Fulvio Caldini, one of which is composed around the medieval melody Beata Viscera; Paul Moravec’s Mortal Flesh, based on an ancient hymn; Wojtek Blecharz’s Airlines incorporating unconventional sounds and articulations; and the world premiere of a work commissioned for QNG by the Canada Council on the Arts by composer Éric Marty in which the artists create a surreal soundscape.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

11:00 a.m. Libbey Bowl – Music for 18 Musicians

Music for 18 Musicians, Steve Reich’s seminal chamber work of musical minimalism, will be performed by eighth blackbird and friends, a super ensemble created for this occasion by eighth blackbird, who call this work “a pivotal moment in 20th-century music.”

2:00 p.m. Libbey Park – Trimpin Returns

Trimpin returns to Libbey Park for a second free, live demonstration of his newest interactive sound installations “Sheng High” and “Giuter-Toy.”

4:00 p.m. to Libbey Bowl – Marathon Finale in Three Parts

8:00 p.m. A fitting conclusion to the 2009 Ojai Music Festival is the Marathon Finale, incorporating all of this year’s Ojai artists in performances that include Reich’s Double Sextet, Lisa Bielawa’s Kafka Songs, John Cage’s Third Construction, and Louis Andriessen’s Worker’s Union, plus a newly commissioned work for Trimpin and his sculptural creations.

The Ojai Music Festival in California’s Ojai Valley enjoys a worldwide reputation for providing artists with the freedom to present music they are passionate about in a place so idyllic that filmmaker Frank Capra transformed the area into Shangri-La for his 1937 film Lost Horizon. All concerts take place at the outdoor Libbey Bowl, once marked sacred by the ancient Chumash Indians, where inspiration and creativity still flourish. From its founding in 1947, a healthy spirit of eclecticism and musical daring produced concerts that were fun and inspiring. That spirit was reinforced in 1954 with the appointment of Lawrence Morton as the Festival artistic director. A man of broad musical tastes, Mr. Morton was a visionary whose constant curiosity and unwavering integrity shaped the festival’s future direction. Under his leadership, the Ojai Music Festival developed an enduring concept whereby the artistic director engages a different music director each year, around whose musical ideas that year’s Festival is built. Thomas W. Morris, the Festival’s current artistic director, began his tenure at Ojai in 2004. Among the Festival’s diverse music directors have been such renowned musical personalities as John Adams, Emanuel Ax, Pierre Boulez, Aaron Copland, Ingolf Dahl, Peter Maxwell Davies, Lukas Foss, John Harbison, Oliver Knussen, Kent Nagano, Igor Stravinsky, Michael Tilson Thomas, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Mitsuko Uchida, Robert Spano, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and last year, David Robertson. The Ojai Music Festival is located in California’s Ojai Valley, 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Grammy Award-winning sextet eighth blackbird is known for its provocative and engaging performances for ever-growing audiences. Combining virtuosity with a fresh sense of irreverence and panache, the sextet—comprising Tim Munro, flutes; Michael J. Maccaferri, clarinets; Matt Albert, violin and viola; Nicholas Photinos, cello; Matthew Duvall, percussion+; and Lisa Kaplan, piano—debunks the myth that contemporary music is only for a cerebral few. The ensemble is praised for its performing style—often playing from memory with virtuosic and theatrical flair—and for making new music accessible to wide audiences. Since its founding in 1996, eighth blackbird has commissioned and recorded new works from such eminent composers as Steve Reich, George Perle, Frederic Rzewski, Joseph Schwantner, Jennifer Higdon, Stephen Hartke, Derek Bermel, David Schober, Daniel Kellogg, and Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez. The ensemble has won numerous awards and honors, including the American Music Center’s Trailblazer Award and a Meet the Composer Award in 2007, the 2000 Naumburg Chamber Music Award, and was the first contemporary music group to win the Grand Prize at the Concert Artists Guild International Competition, Cedille Records has released four albums by eighth blackbird, including strange imaginary animals, which won the 2008 Grammy for Best Chamber Music Performance. The group derives its name from the Wallace Stevens poem “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”

Steven Mackey’s first musical passion was playing the electric guitar in rock bands in northern California. He later discovered classical music and has composed for orchestras, chamber ensembles, dance and opera. The composer/guitarist/ music educator has received commissions from American Composers Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony, among others. He previously worked with Rinde Eckert on his monodrama Ravenshead, which has been performed over 100 times and was named “Best New Opera of 1998” by USA Today. Since the mid-1980s Mr. Mackey has resumed his interest in the electric guitar and regularly performs his own work. He recorded his own work on Lost and Found, and other recordings include Tuck and Roll conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. Both recordings made The New York Times year-end top ten list. Mr. Mackey is professor of music at Princeton University, and as co-director of the Composers Ensemble at Princeton he coaches and conducts new work by student composers.

Rinde Eckert, a finalist for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in drama, is a writer, composer, performer, and director. His opera/new music theatre productions have toured throughout America and to major festivals in Europe and Asia. A classically trained singer known for his flexible and inventive singing voice, Mr. Eckert is also a multi-instrumentalist, who has performed in multi-media theater pieces with the Paul Dresher Ensemble and the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, among others. But, in recent years, it is his work as a solo artist that has attracted increasing attention. His modern treatment of a variety of vernacular and classical music straddles the boundaries between time-honored and the new, the mysterious and the familiar, defying stylistic pigeonholes. Mr. Eckert begins a three-year residence at Princeton University in 2009.

Forging a new acoustic sound that defies categorization while striking universal chords, San Francisco-based, multi-instrumentalist Tin Hat makes freewheeling chamber music for the 21st century, combining many genres of music, including southern blues, bluegrass, neoclassical, eastern European folk music, and avant-garde. The ensemble – Carla Kihlstedt, Mark Orton, Ben Goldberg, and Ara Anderson - has garnered widespread critical acclaim for its five CDs and high marks for their captivating performances, sometimes including original soundtracks for classic silent film animation from Russia. Tin Hat’s international audiences have grown over the years through many concert tours in the United States and in Europe. Hailed for "interweaving Old World Europe with post-modern America, south-of-the-border sensuality with concert-hall propriety, and odd-metered syncopation with deeply soulful grooves" (The New York Press), the ensemble has created an original American ethnic music.

QNG (Quartet New Generation) are four recorder virtuosos from Berlin who are known to mesmerize audiences with their theatrical flair and innovative programming that juxtaposes contemporary and early music, confirming the recorder’s viability as a modern classical instrument. The members of QNG—Susanne Frohlich, Andrea Guttmann, Hannah Pape, and Heidi Schwarz—perform on more than 20 different recorders of varying sizes and shapes and are continuously searching for new possibilities of sound and expression. With a large repertoire of European works, the collective has begun commissioning American composers, such as Stephen Taylor, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Gordon Beeferman and Nissim Schaul, among others. Founded in 1998 at the Amsterdam Conservatoire and the University of the Arts, Berlin, the quartet in numerous competitions, including the 1996 German Music and 2004 Concert Artists Guild International Competition.

Pianist Jeremy Denk commands a broad and challenging solo and chamber music repertoire ranging from J. S. Bach, through Schubert, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Messiaen, and Bartok, to Tobias Picker. Mr. Denk earned a Master’s degree from Juilliard and is a double-degree graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory in chemistry and piano. Known for his interesting programming, his recitals have combined Ives’s “Concord” Sonata with the final sonata of Beethoven, and a medley of Bach chorales and chorale-preludes with American Rags and Stephen Foster ballads. An avid chamber music artist, Mr. Denk, has collaborated with the Borromeo, Brentano, Mirò, St. Lawrence, Shanghai and Vermeer Quartets, and has appeared at all major chamber music festivals. He has played several recital tours with violinist Joshua Bell since their first performance together at Spoleto in 2004. Mr. Denk is also well known for “Think Denk,” his popular blog.

Trimpin, the Mac-Arthur “genius grant” award-winning sound sculptor, composer, musician, and inventor, describes his work as “an ongoing exploration of the concepts of sound, vision, and movement, experimenting with combinations that will introduce our senses of perception to a totally new experience.” Although he uses the latest technology available, he works with “natural” elements—water, air, light, fire, etc.—and reconfigures them in new and unusual applications, pushing them to the limits. Currently, an artist-in-residence at the California Arts Institute, Trimpin’s sound sculptures, both whimsical and serious, have appeared all over the world. He previously exhibited his interactive Conloninpurple installation at Ojai’s 60th anniversary season in 2006

Pianist Amy Briggs is both a leading interpreter of the music of living composers and an artist who brings a fresh perspective to music of the past, with performances as a soloist and chamber musician across the United States, Europe, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and Asia. As a pianist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW ensemble, she has worked with such major composers as Augusta Read Thomas, Pierre Boulez, Marc-Anthony Turnage, Oliver Knussen, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Osvaldo Golijov. Her recordings include two critically acclaimed discs of David Rakowski’s Piano Etudes on Bridge Records with a third to be released shortly; discs of solo and chamber music on the ART and Wergo Records label; and an upcoming album of solo piano tangos from the 20th and 21st centuries. Ms. Briggs earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance at Northwestern University as a student of Ursula Oppens.

Soprano Lucy Shelton enjoys an international career of recital, chamber, opera and orchestral performances in repertoire ranging from the Baroque to the Contemporary. A foremost interpreter of today's composers, she has premiered more than 100 works, many of which have been written for her by such composers as Elliott Carter, Mario Davidvosky, Oliver Knussen, and Charles Wuorinen. International appearances include Pierre Boulez's Le Visage Nuptial under the composer's direction; Kurtag's The Sayings of Peter Bornemisza; Saariaho and Berio with the Ensemble InterContemporain; and staged performances of Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire. A native of California, her primary mentor was mezzo-soprano Jan de Gaetani. She has taught at the Britten-Pears School and in America at the Eastman School, Cleveland Institute, New England Conservatory of Music, and since 1996 has been a resident artist faculty member at the Tanglewood Music Center.

As the child of two Broadway and Hollywood dancer/actors, Mark DeChiazza grew up exposed to theater, dance, film, and the visual arts. Trained as a modern dancer and actor, he has performed all over the world in works of dance and dance-theater. A member of Susan Marshall’s company, he contributed to the company’s collaborative creation of work and also collaborated with her on the Leonard Cohen/Philip Glass production Book of Longing and on the eighth blackbird and Bang on a Can work, Singing in the Dead of Night. He has directed at Manhattan Theater Source; pilot episodes of the TV series Selectmen, and the short film Speck’s Last. His one-act play The Dead Salesman was performed by Houston’s Theater Southwest. and he has just completed his first full-length play Cut. Mr. DeChiazza is currently a member of Metropolitan Opera Ballet and is directing Phenomenon, which will premiere in 2010.

Thomas W. Morris, recognized as one of the most creative leaders in the music industry, assumed the position of artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival in 2004. His tenure extends through 2011. As artistic director, Mr. Morris is responsible for identifying and engaging each year’s festival music director and working together with each, to create festival programming. In February 2004, Mr. Morris retired as executive director of The Cleveland Orchestra, a position he held since 1987. He served in a number of capacities, including general manager of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1969 to 1985, where he had overall responsibility for the Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, Tanglewood, and Symphony Hall. In addition to his Ojai post, Mr. Morris is active as a consultant, teacher, and writer.

Tickets and Information

Ojai Music Festival single tickets range from $35 to $95 for reserved seating; lawn seats are $15. (Reserved section tickets increase the week of the Festival.) Series tickets are also available and range from $150 to $309 for a full series and $125 to $255 for a mini series. Ojai concerts take place at the Libbey Bowl at East Ojai Avenue in downtown Ojai.

Tickets for the Festival Symposium on June 12 in Matilija Auditorium at Matilija Junior High School are $30 in advance or $35 the day of the event. Matilija Junior High School is located at 703 El Paseo Road.

The three June 13 bonus events all take place at the Ojai Theater at 145 East Ojai Avenue and all are free. For the 2 p.m. Trembling Air” and 11 p.m. “BREATHtaking” events, subscribers and donors will be given first-priority seating, and the balance of the tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reserved seating for the Trimpin private screening at 4:30 p.m. is available only to Ojai Music Festival attendees and donors.

To purchase tickets, to make reservations for the Trimpin bonus event, or for additional information, call 805-646-2094. Or visit

Concierge Service

Ojai Music Festival provides a complimentary Festival concierge service for accommodations and assistance with other Ojai activities. The Festival also has special room rates for patrons at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa and other participating hotel partners, including the Su Nido Inn and Casa Ojai. The direct line to the Festival concierge is 805-646-2094, Ext. 110.

*SLIDE is a co-commission of Stanford Lively Arts at Stanford University, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at University of Maryland, Meet The Composer’s Commissioning Music/USA program, Charles C. Jett, Nancy R.G. Church M.D., and Herb and Belle Goldman, The Modlin Center at The University of Richmond

The 2009 Ojai Music Festival, Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University, Corporate Funding by The Boeing Corporation, and The Music Department at Princeton University

SLIDE was commissioned as part of a national series of works from Meet the Composer's Commissioning Music/USA program, which is made possible by generous support from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Francis Goelet Trust, the Helen F. Whitaker Fund, Target, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

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