MEMETERIA by Thomas May

Music & the Arts

2022 Ojai Festival

The 76th edition of the Ojai Music Festival begins today and runs through Sunday. I was honored to write the notes for the inspiring, original, “discipline-colliding” program curated this year by AMOC* (the American Modern Opera Company) and featuring its unparalleled team of artists. That a collective is serving in the role of music director/curator is one of the unique features of this summer at Ojai.

There are many fascinating tangents to AMOC*’s program: a focus on the legacy of Julius Eastman, whose music begins and ends the festival; perspectives on Minimalism, especially from Eastman, Hans Otte, and the young generation of composers emerging today; adventurous juxtapositions of music, dance, and theater; and the exciting convergence of early music sensibilities (on the part of today’s performers, that is) and “new music.”

Also in the lineup are several anticipated premieres: AMOC* co-founder Matthew Aucoin’s new cycle of “mini-concertos,” Family Dinner; Bobbi Jene Smith and colleagues’ intriguing latest dance-theater projects, Open Rehearsal and The Cello Player; Carolyn Chen’s music-dance work How to Fall Apart; and Anthony Cheung’s poetry-song cycle, the echoing of tenses. Also part of this cornucopia of premieres was to have been a new staging by AMOC* co-founder Zack Winokur of Olivier Messiaen’s song cycle Harawi (part of his “Tristan trilogy”), but this will not be able to happen because Julia Bullock is unable to travel from her home in Germany due to Covid. Harawi has been a long-in-the-making collaboration between the soprano and Winokur — it’s a major loss not to be able to present it at the festival. But such is the extraordinary team ethic and resilience of this company that member Davóne Tines and colleagues agreed to step in at the last minute to offer an entirely different program for the Friday night slot: Tyshawn Sorey’s For James Primosch and Tines’s own curated program Recital No. 1: MASS.

Filed under: new music, Ojai Festival

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