For next year, the Ojai Music Festival may want to add an extra word or two to its name. “Music and Dance Festival” would be a more accurate moniker for the 2022 event. Or simply “Music and More.”
The 76th festival, scheduled for June 9–12 in the bucolic, mountain-surrounded Ventura County city of Ojai, will feature a series of works that integrate music, dance, and other art forms. This uncharacteristic lineup was put together by its first-ever collective music director, the American Modern Opera Company (AMOC).
Founded in 2017 by director/choreographer Zack Winokur and composer/conductor Matthew Aucoin, whose Eurydice was just staged by the Metropolitan Opera, AMOC is devoted to creating “discipline-colliding work.” Their Ojai offerings will range from a performance piece reflecting on the art and life of composer Julius Eastman to Carolyn Chen’s How to Fall Apart, an hour-long work that integrates “text, gesture, and music.”
“This brilliant assembly is representative of a new generation of artists,” said Artistic and Executive Director Ara Guzelimian, pointing to its “fearless melding of disciplines” and its commitment to a “spirit of collaboration as a central artistic premise.”
In a joint statement, the 17 members of AMOC said they are “thrilled and honored to uphold Ojai’s essential spirit, and to expand the Festival’s scope through works developed in collaboration across the arts.”
How to Fall Apart is one of six world premieres at the 2022 festival. Others include Family Dinner, a cycle of new mini-concertos Aucoin wrote for the AMOC ensemble; the echoing of tenses, a song cycle by Anthony Cheung, set to poems by Asian-American writers; and Waiting, a new, collaboratively created music/dance piece that explores “friendship as a messy amalgam of love, hatred, insecurity and neediness.”
Also receiving its first performance will be a semi-staged performance of Messiaen’s song cycle Harawi featuring soprano Julia Bullock and pianist Conor Hanick. Dancers Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber will perform their own choreography to accompany the 1945 piece, which the French composer based on a genre of Andean love song.
The other world premiere will be another collaborative dance work created for the festival by Smith. Adapting parts of her recent film Broken Theatre, it explores themes of power, trust, and love by examining “the theatrics of rehearsal.”
The music-only performances include a program that pairs works of Bach, including the famous Chaconne from Partita No. 2, with music by contemporary composers Cassandra Miller and Reiko Fueting. Hanick will give a rare performance of The Book of Sounds, a cycle of 12 solo piano pieces by 20th-century German composer, pianist, poet, and visual artist Hans Otte.
The Julius Eastman program will include Buddha, Prelude to the Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc, and Stay On It. They will be performed by an ensemble including cellist Seth Parker Woods.
The festival will also feature performances by the Baroque music ensemble Ruckus, and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo.
Series passes, which cost $205 to $965, are now on sale. For more information, call (805) 646-2053 or go to the festival website.