Pixel Tracker

Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 11:44 am | Fair 65º


Gerald Carpenter: Ojai Music Festival Opens Four-Day Run

Program for the 66th annual event features works by Beethoven, Wagner, Grieg and Mozart

The 66th annual run of the world-famous Ojai Music Festival starts this Thursday and continues through Sunday.

Mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn will sing works by Alban Berg and Dmitri Shostakovich at the Ojai Music Festival this weekend.
Mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn will sing works by Alban Berg and Dmitri Shostakovich at the Ojai Music Festival this weekend. (Marco Borg photo)

Participating artists at this year’s festival will include Music Director Leif Ove Andsnes, conductor-composer Reinbert de Leeuw, clarinetist Martin Fröst, pianist Marc-André Hamelin, the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, percussionist and director Steven Schick, mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn, soprano Lucy Shelton and violist Antoine Tamestit, while the participating composers will be John Adams, John Luther Adams, Eivind Buene, Hafliði Hallgrímsson and Bent Sørensen.

Now, while the program for this year’s festival contains works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Edvard Grieg and Wolfgang Mozart — performed, it is safe to predict, with passion and precision and love — no one who knows anything at all about Ojai would mistake it for the usual sort of summer festival. Ojai was, is and ever will be defiantly modern, adamantly contemporary.

Those composers just mentioned are not there as museum exhibits, but because they have never ceased — in these works, anyway — to speak to us directly, as contemporaries. Similarly, the inclusion on the program of such celebrated “modern” composers as Charles Ives, Béla Bartók, Alban Berg, Igor Stravinsky, Dmitri Shostakovich or Leoš Janáček — all dead, some for a long time — would seem to signify that they have yet to harden into “classics.”

From the list of artists and participating composers, one would tend to conclude that this year’s festival has a distinctly Northern orientation. There is nothing Mediterranean about it, nothing tropical.

American composer John Luther Adams is probably the most emphatically Northern — not to say Arctic — in his outlook. Not an Alaskan by birth, he adopted the state as his physical home and his spiritual core after visiting on a Guggenheim Fellowship some decades ago. To me, he sounds a religious minimalist, like the Estonian Arvo Pärt, but with Alaska at the mystical center instead of Pärt’s ethereal Christianity. His words tend to be calls to contemplation, with very few events, but hauntingly beautiful nonetheless.

Other highlights, in a program of highlights, are a performance of the two-piano version of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and the string orchestra version of Janáček’s String Quartet No. 2, “Intimate Pages”. If you are unfamiliar with the latter, then you might prepare yourself for a powerful emotional experience. It may just prove the greatest music you have never heard.

All of the information on the festival is available in great but never overwhelming detail on the festival’s attractive and well-organized website by clicking here, which is also the place to go for tickets and schedules, maps and phone numbers.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.