Summer festivals can’t seem to get enough of Rhiannon Giddens. The singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist is seeing the premiere of her opera Omar, composed with Michael Abels, at Spoleto Festival USA this season. (The production then goes to Los Angeles Opera for performances Oct. 22 – Nov. 13.)
Now, next summer is filling up, too. The Ojai Music Festival announced last week that Giddens will take the mantle of music director in 2023. Ojai’s ambitious plans for this year — programs June 9–12 led by the musicians and artists of the American Modern Opera Company — haven’t gone live yet, but staying on the cutting edge means a certain amount of looking ahead.
The festival’s signature, a different music director each season, has trended more collaborative since the onset of the pandemic. Composer John Adams, who oversaw the 2021 programming, adopted a collegial approach with the musicians who joined him on the schedule, among them Giddens. Naturally, her return in 2023 promises a slate of guest artists as well.
Francesco Turrisi, Giddens’s partner on two acclaimed albums and a versatile performer in his own right, will, of course, be there. The duo is set to team up with the Attacca Quartet again, with whom they shared the stage at last year’s festival.
And then there are the musicians on a mission similar to Giddens’s. Iranian kamancheh player Kayhan Kalhor and Chinese pipa player Wu Man, instrumentalists who range easily from folk to classical styles, also headline the 77th festival — set for June 8–11, 2023, with more details to be announced.