Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Making The Sounds In Ojai

Ojai Music Festival strikes chord with ‘Intersection of Words and Music’

By Sondra Murphy
An annual migration of music lovers was seen heading in and out of Libbey Park last weekend as Ojai Music Festival enthusiasts toted chairs, blankets and cushions into Libbey Bowl to enjoy the 62nd season.
The sidewalk scenes were reminiscent of the opening frames of “Modern Times,” screened Friday night, but the factory setting featured in the film strongly contrasted with the blissful demeanor of those around the bowl who seemed to personify the festival’s theme of “The Intersection of Words and Music.”
According to OMF director of marketing and communications Gina Gutierrez, 8,573 music lovers packed the park over the course of the festival to experience the music, bonus events and symposium offerings. Besides the passionate applause and calls of “Bravo,” a chorus of laughter was heard Friday from the audience watching Charlie Chaplin’s antics as the Little Tramp while the Ojai Festival Orchestra provided the musical score to “Modern Times” under the musical direction of conductor David Robertson.
The 62nd Ojai Music Festival featured a range of compositions by George Antheil, Francois Narboni, Steve Reich, Philippe Manoury, Michael Jarrell, Elliott Carter, Olivier Messiaen, and Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. Dawn Upshaw, Barbara Sukowa, Signal, So Percussion and Reich were some of the featured performers this season.
“I think what’s pretty amazing about this year’s festival is the energy level and endurance of the audience,” said OMF executive director Jeffrey Haydon. “It was challenging music this year and the fact that everyone was interested in learning more is a great testament to the audience.” Haydon said more people than ever came from out of town, “… and completely fell in love with both Ojai and the bowl.”
Haydon noted as a highlight this year the presence of composer Reich. “When he first played here 30 years ago, he was an emerging composer,” said Haydon. “Now he’s beloved and revered and probably one of the most celebrated living composers today.”
Four members of Reich’s original ensemble played in the festival this year. “They played alongside a new generation of musicians,” Haydon said. “You really had a passing of the baton. That was a historical moment.”
Debuting at the festival this year was a green plan that encouraged patrons to bring their own containers for free water refills and offered organic souvenirs, reusable bags and zero waste stations. Organic and locally grown refreshments were also sold.
“The festival has always been recognized for its visionary musical programming,” said Christine Drucker, OMF board president. “Now we are also applying our creativity toward producing an environmentally friendly festival.”

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