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

Ojai Talks: 2020 Virtual Festival

UPDATE: Wiener Staatsoper will stream Olga Neuwirth’s new opera Orlando (conducted by Matthias Pintscher) on 23 June from its platform here. Apparently you will need to use a VPN set to a location in Europe to stream (inaccessible to USA), but that’s an easy work-around.

Ara Guzelimian hosts these fascinating conversations with this year’s Ojai Festival artists. I’ll post them as they become available. The first three are now live:

Conversation with 2020 Music Director Matthias Pintscher about his background and his friendship with Pierre Boulez (11 June)

Conversation with Matthias Pintscher and featured artist Olga Neuwirth (12 June)

Conversation with and performances by the Calder Quartet (13 June)

Conversation with Steve Reich (14 June)

Here’s my essay for the overall program: The Art of Transitions

And my program notes for each of the ten events are all to be found in the online program book under that tab here.

Filed under: Asra Guzelimian, Matthias Pintscher, Ojai Festival, Olga Neuwirth

Ojai Music Festival: Virtual Edition


On Thursday through Sunday, 11-14 June, Ojai Festival presents a virtual edition of what was to have been its 74th festival. Artistic Director Chad Smith and Music Director Matthias Pintscher curated a splendid program, with Olga Neuwirth and Steve Reich as special featured guests. This also would have marked the Ojai debut of the Ensemble intercontemporain — of which Pintscher is current director and which was founded by his mentor Pierre Boulez, a longtime presence at Ojai.

This is my own first year of being associated with Ojai, so this cancellation has hit me especially hard. But you’ll have a chance to hear Ara Guzelimian, incoming Artistic Director, in some wonderful conversations with Pintscher, Neuwirth, Reich, and members of the Calder String Quartet.

You can read my program essay here. My program notes for each event are linked on the respective pages.

Filed under: new music, Ojai Festival

Patricia Kopatchinskaja Comes to California

ojai-at-berkeley@2xPatricia Kopatchinskaja is an ideal choice to be this year’s music director of the Ojai Festival. In advance of the festival’s northern edition, Ojai at Berkeley, here’s my profile of this incomparable artist for Cal Performances:

Matters of technical proficiency are well accounted for in the arsenal of words that critics have at their disposal to describe what sets a musician apart. What is sorely lacking is …

continue reading

Filed under: Cal Performances, Ojai Festival, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, profile, violinists

Vijay Iyer’s Creative Connections

My feature for the Cal Performances/Ojai at Berkeley edition is now online:

Any portrait of Vijay Iyer is necessarily a group portrait. A composer, pianist, bandleader, teacher, and thinker, Iyer channels his insatiable curiosity into innovative acts of collaboration with like-minded artists—across genres and disciplines. So when the chance came to serve as music director of the 2017 Ojai Music Festival …

continue reading

Filed under: festivals, George Lewis, Ojai Festival, Vijay Iyer

Courageous Women, Transcendent Visions


soprano Julia Bullock

My feature on this year’s Ojai at Berkeley Festival curated by Peter Sellars has now been posted:

This year’s Ojai at Berkeley festival focuses on the artistry and impact of powerful, visionary women—not only as creators and performers but as the subjects of the artworks themselves.

continue reading

Filed under: Ojai Festival, Peter Sellars, Saariaho

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.