Music News & Info: Classical / Other classical music concerts and recitals (in So Cal and beyond)

Ojai Music Festival announces Music Directors for next three seasons

Schick - Sellars - SalonenOjai Music Festival Artistic Director Tom Morris and the other good folks on his team are still ramping up for this summer’s fun, featuring pianist (and blogger) Jeremy Denk as Music Director.  But that didn’t stop them from giving us a little advanced notice about who’ll be taking the reigns in the future.  According to the press release I received yesterday (shown in full below), the next three Music Directors after Mr. Denk are:

  • Steven Schick (June 11-14, 2015)
  • Peter Sellars (June 9-12, 2016)
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen (June 8-11, 2017)

Steven Schick may not be as well-known as the other two gents, but he’s a perfect choice, given his leadership of percussion virtuosos “red fish blue fish,” among other California ensembles, combined with some great Ojai appearances in past years.  The choice of Mr. Sellars comes as no great surprise.

The most noteworthy choice is clearly Mr. Salonen, not only because of his international stature but also because he’s done it twice before.  You may recall this comment from Mr. Morris from my interview with him last year:

“I think it’s stunning that Pierre Boulez has been Music Director seven times! . . .

[Ojai]  has always had a different Music Director each year, but if you look at the history of it — for a good deal of its history — Music Directors would sometimes do it for three or four years in succession and then someone else would do it for a couple years. . . .  It was a fairly stable group of people who were doing it through the sixties and seventies and early eighties.  Wonderful, wonderful artists. Fantastic artists.

But one of the things that was apparent to me was there was a whole new generation of really fascinating artists, I thought, emerging, and there were so many of them that I was intrigued with, and most of whom I knew quite well, that I made the decision that I would in fact hire a different Music Director each year.

Certainly that’s not a hard and fast rule ad infinitum, but it certainly was for these ten years and it will be so for the next several.  That’s not to say that Music Directors don’t come back; they sometimes come back in different guises. . . .”

At first blush, Mr. Salonen’s appointment for the 2017 festival seems to violate this statement.  Perhaps his previous stints as Music Director don’t count because they occurred under Mr. Morris’s predecessor, Ernest Fleischmann.  Regardless, it will be very good to have him back.


Photo credits:

  • Steven Schick:  photo by Mark Palmer
  • Peter Sellars:  photo by Jim Salzano
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen:  photo by Nicho Sodling




Steven Schick: 69th Festival June 11-14, 2015

Peter Sellars: 70th Festival June 9-12, 2016

Esa-Pekka Salonen: 71st Festival June 8-11, 2017


“The Ojai Music Festival is deeply committed to adventure and exploration through the concentrated intersection of extraordinary artists, electrifying music, committed and engaged audiences – all in the sublime setting of Ojai. The Festival could have no better music directors to frame the Festival’s upcoming 70th anniversary than Steven Schick, Peter Sellars, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.”
– Thomas W. Morris, Artistic Director


(January 21, 2014, Ojai, California) — As the Ojai Music Festival anticipates the upcoming 68th Festival (June 12-15, 2014) with Music Director Jeremy Denk, Artistic Director Thomas W. Morris announces the artists who will serve in the coming years as Festival music directors: Steven Schick (June 11-14, 2015),Peter Sellars (June 9-12, 2016), and Esa-Pekka Salonen (June 8-11, 2017). 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. The Festival’s multi-year partnership with Cal Performances in Berkeley, Ojai North, continues a week after the Festival: June 18-20, 2015, June 16-18, 2016, and June 15-17, 2017.

For the 2015 Festival, Mr. Morris has invited percussionist, conductor, teacher, and author Steven Schickto serve as Music Director. No stranger to Ojai, Mr. Schick collaborated on the 2011 Festival’s production of George Crumb’s The Winds of Destiny (Dawn Upshaw, music director), as well as the 2012 Festival (Leif Ove Andsnes, music director) in John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit, performed throughout Libbey Park. A champion of new music, Mr. Schick has commissioned and premiered more than 150 new works and is the founder and artistic director of percussion group, red fish blue fish. He is currently artistic director of the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and music director of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus and was the founding percussionist of the Bang on a Can All-Stars. He is on the faculty of University of California San Diego. In 2015, the program will showcase Mr. Schick’s unique and broad talent as a percussionist, conductor, performer, and musical trailblazer. Plans for the 2015 Festival will be announced in May 2014.

Opera and theater director Peter Sellars will return to Ojai in 2016 as Music Director of the 70thanniversary Festival. His partnership with Ojai dates back to 1992 when he directed the daring staged version of Stravinsky’s Histoire du Soldat with Music Director Pierre Boulez. He returned to Ojai in 2011 directing the world premiere of the staged production of George Crumb’s The Winds of Destiny. To mark this milestone Festival, Mr. Sellars is shaping a program that will be deeply rooted in the Ojai heritage.  Mr. Sellars is one of the most innovative and powerful forces in performing arts, both in America and abroad. A visionary artist, Mr. Sellars is known for ground-breaking interpretations of classic works. Whether Mozart, Handel, Shakespeare, Sophocles, or the 16th-century Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu, Mr. Sellars strikes a universal chord with audiences, engaging and illuminating contemporary social and political issues. He has staged operas in major opera houses throughout the world and has established a reputation for bringing 20th-century and contemporary operas to the stage. Mr. Sellars has led several major arts festivals, including the 1990 and 1993 Los Angeles Festivals.

Conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen returns to Ojai in 2017 to once again serve as Music Director. One of today’s most important artists of today, Mr. Salonen made his Ojai debut in 1999 with composer-in-residence Magnus Lindberg in a program dedicated to Finnish music. He returned in 2001, serving as music director. Mr. Salonen is currently the principal conductor and artistic advisor for London’s Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor laureate for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His compositions Floofand LA Variations have become modern classics, and his newest compositions are performed around the globe. Mr. Salonen served as the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 17 years, from 1992 to 2007 and, through his unwavering dedication to new music, is widely credited with revitalizing the organization and bringing the idea of the symphony orchestra into the 21st century.

Thomas W. Morris, Artistic Director
Thomas W. Morris was appointed artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival starting with the 2004 Festival. Mr. 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. Mr. Morris is currently active nationally and internationally as a consultant, lecturer, teacher, and writer.

As artistic director of the 68-year-old Festival, Mr. Morris 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 with Cal Performances in Berkeley, Ojai North.

Mr. Morris is a founding director of Spring for Music and serves as the project’s artistic director. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Curtis Institute of Music and as chair of its Board of Overseers, and is 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, giving patrons a fresh perspective on the works they hear. The four-day festival is a complete immersion experience with main concerts, free community events, symposia, film screenings, and gatherings. Considered a highlight of the 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, and Jeremy Denk.

Ojai North

Following the 2014 Festival in Ojai, Ojai North takes place from June 19-21 in Berkeley, CA. Inaugurated in 2011, Ojai North is the Ojai Music Festival’s multi-year partnership with Cal Performances in Berkeley. This collaborative effort makes possible annual reprises of Ojai concerts in Berkeley, as well as co-commissions and co-productions. More than just a sharing of resources, Ojai North represents a joining of artistic ideals and aspirations. The combined efforts of Ojai’s legacy of artistic innovation and Cal Performances’ tradition of groundbreaking productions creates a joint force that allows artists to achieve more than could even be imagined by each organization separately.

Participation in the 2014 Ojai Music Festival

The Ojai Music Festival continues to draw thousands of curious and engaged music enthusiasts from across the country and has had record sell-out concerts over the last three years. As 2011 Music Director Dawn Upshaw commented, “There is a very special spirit of collaboration here [Ojai], fostered in part by the gorgeous natural setting and also by the friendly engagement of everyone involved.”

As tickets remain in high demand, Ojai now includes virtual opportunities to participate in the Festival experience through live video streaming of concerts and interviews. The Festival promotes year-round participation and deeper engagement through its free online courses, OjaiU, which launched last May and remains active via archives on the Festival website at and on the OjaiU website Plans for the 2014 OjaiU will be announced at a later date.

Festival passes are available for the 2014 Festival concerts and may be purchased online or by calling 805 646 2053. 2014 Ojai Music Festival series passes range from $185 to $730 for reserved seating and lawn series passes start from $55. Single passes will be available in spring 2014. Directions to Ojai, as well as information on lodging, concierge services for visitors and other Ojai activities, are also available at the Ojai web site. Follow Festival updates on the web, Facebook ( and Twitter (@ojaifestivals).

# # #

Ojai Music Festival: Gina Gutierrez,               (805) 646-2094
National/International: Nikki Scandalios,          (704) 340-4094
Regional: Laura Cohen,                                          (818) 541-5521

For photos, additional bios, and Ojai information visit the press page at

Director of Marketing and Communications

PO Box 185
Ojai CA 93024
P: 805 646 2094 x. 104/F: 805 646 6037

Join us for the 68th Ojai Music Festival
Jeremy Denk, Music Director

June 12-15, 2014
Explore more on our Website
Follow us on Twitter: @OjaiFestivals
Find us on Facebook: Ojai Music Festival

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