Ojai Music Festival
A performance at the 2019 Ojai Music Festival | Credit: Annelies-van-der-Vegt

The Ojai Music Festival is making the return to in-person performances this summer but doing things a little differently to get there. The 2021 festival will be in September, not June as usual. And Ojai’s signature — a different music director each year — is getting a slight update.

John Adams, announced as Ojai’s 2021 music director back in March 2020, is still set to lead the summer’s programming. But the composer and conductor is shifting the focus away from his own work. If festivals past have been about one director and maybe a couple of collaborators headlining, Adams is bringing in enough new music and musicians for a decade’s worth of concerts at Ojai.

Performers on the 2021 schedule include Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi, violinist Miranda Cuckson, and recorder player Anna Margules. The LA Phil New Music Group, a regular presence at Ojai, and the Attacca Quartet, making its festival debut, each play a concert. Composers Dylan Mattingly and Samuel Carl Adams are slated for premieres, and pianists Víkingur Ólafsson and Timo Andres are set for solo recitals.

Composer John Adams
John Adams | Credit: Deborah O’Grady

Of course, among the many collaborators, John Adams’s music does pop up on a couple of the programs. Adams also conducts two chamber-orchestra concerts: some 21st-century music and some Debussy and Bach.

It’s a fitting panoply of music as Ojai celebrates its 75th anniversary and returns to performances after a summer at home. Artistic and Executive Director Ara Guzelimian says:

As this 75th milestone year is marked, we look toward Ojai’s future by honoring the festival’s role as a champion of a new generation of composers and artists. We respond to these immensely challenging times by placing our faith, now more than ever, in this next generation to show us the way forward. John Adams has been unwavering in his desire to focus the 75th festival on nurturing an environment of exploration and adventure for artists and audiences alike.”

Subscription tickets for this year’s Ojai Festival, which runs Sept. 16–19, are available online and by phone at 805-646-2053. Individual tickets will be available at a later date. Livestreaming, for audiences who can’t make it to Libbey Bowl, is also in the works. And Ojai plans to kick off the anniversary season in June, with events across Southern California and new online offerings — details to be announced.