“Silliness” of Schubert vs. “haunted” Janacek: Jeremy Denk

Last week the Ojai Music Festival began with a sublime performance of classical piano music, using a contrasting variety of compositional styles the likes of which this reporter has never heard orseen, brilliantly introduced and played by Jeremy Denk, a blogger.   Actually Denk has no time to blog these days, between his awards, hisContinue reading ““Silliness” of Schubert vs. “haunted” Janacek: Jeremy Denk”

The loveliness of a violin, with gamelan, from Lou Harrison

According to the late great California composer Lou Harrison: "A good gamelan is the most beautiful musical ensemble on the planet." His point was proved this spring at the Ojai Music Festival, where a fifteen-person-strong ensemble, called Gamelan San Raras, from UC Berkeley, with Hrabba Attadottir on the violin, played Harrison's meltingly gorgeous Philemon and Baukis.Continue reading “The loveliness of a violin, with gamelan, from Lou Harrison”

John Luther Adams at Ojai Music Fest (outdoors)

Thanks to a video maven from Bart's Books, here's what the final movement of composer John Luther Adams' Strange and Silent Music looked like this morning at Besant Hill in Upper Ojai. During the entrancing performance, which began on the drums, moved to the east for a soft thudding playing of the gongs, to theContinue reading “John Luther Adams at Ojai Music Fest (outdoors)”

Dawn Upshaw takes a bullet for Ojai Music Fest

That's what it looks like in this picture, from a preview last Friday from NPR: The featured music at the Ojai Music festival this year, Winds of Destiny, came from American composer George Crumb, which NPR helpfully allows us to hear next to the preview. It's stunning — in a festival sort of way. Mark Swed, of theContinue reading “Dawn Upshaw takes a bullet for Ojai Music Fest”

The Confessions of Cassandra

The Ojai Music Festival is known for its adventurous spirit, for its lust for risk — musically speaking. In turn, Libbey Bowl audiences are known for their patience, and often they are rewarded with the  unforgettable. When Steve Reich’s difficult "Four Organs" was premiered in New York in the early l970’s, a near-riot erupted. WhenContinue reading “The Confessions of Cassandra”

Genius Loves Company: Dawn Upshaw edition

My story on the Ojai Music Festival, to begin this evening, featuring the great Dawn Upshaw (here). …when asked how it felt to be proclaimed a genius to the world, Upshaw, speaking on the phone from her studio in New York, sounds ever-so-slightly embarrassed, insisting that “only the media” call it the genius grant, sayingContinue reading “Genius Loves Company: Dawn Upshaw edition”