June 7 - 10, 2012
Ojai Music Festival
Part of what makes Ojai perfect for me is the plethora of symposiums and pre-concert lectures by very smart people, and this perfect Ojai Festival began with a talk by Ara Guzelimian, Provost and Dean of The Julliard School and Steve Schick percussionist/conductor who discussed the influence of nature on the works of John Luther Adams, three of which will be performed here this weekend. Adams says “ The whole world is music and all we have to do is tune in.” Nice. Leif Ove Andsnes is this year’s Music Director. He is “a pianist of magisterial elegance, power and insight.” (NYTimes) Each year Tom Morris, the Artistic Director, selects each year’s Music Director and, in my view, he does a brilliant job of this. For instance, next year’s will be Mark Morris. Cool. I have already signed up and paid for 2013. I can’t possibly write about all the concerts and events so will mention them, show the photos, add the three reviews by Anthony Tommasini of the NY Times.
5 pm The first concert began with a glorious bang - literally. “Inuksuit” by John Luther Adams for 48 percussionists in Libby Park. This is my third time experiencing this, may I say, holy piece. Inuksuit is the word for the stone markers that guide the Inuit people on their journeys across the tundra. The musicians began playing with breathy/airy sounds and then left the center circle to go to their percussion instruments which were scattered around the park. The sounds grew from intermittent drum booms to include cymbals, xylophones and grew to encapsulate us all in the music. People wandered around, kids were rapt, and dogs were quiet. As the music ended the sounds dwindled to beautiful dings of triangles and the like. Piccolos (as bird song) played from perches in the trees.
8 pm The concert opened in Libby Bowl with John Luther Adams’ “Red Arc/Blue Veil” performed by Marc-Andre, piano, processed sounds, and Steve Schick, percussion consisting of crotales and vibraphone. In this Adams quotes Kandinsky’s meditation on “those inner sounds that are the life of the colors.” The program notes also says that Adams shares a love of color and prismatic mass with the French sprectalists. This certainly comes through in this blissful composition. Dmitri Shostakovich’s (1906-1975) “Six Poems by Marin Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) performed by Leif Ove Andsnes, piano and Anna Akhmatovoj, mezzo-soprano. Six poignant, heart-felt songs beautifully sung. I will one day read the text translations in the very complete Ojai Festival program. I am not an opera afficionada but the audience was ecstatic over this and I will go along with that. After intermission was a solo piano performance by Marc-Andre Hamelin, piano, of Charles Ives (1974-1954) “Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord (1909-1915).” This was in four movements dedicated to Emerson, Hawthorne, the Alcott family and Thoreau. The first two movements were more modern with atonal aspects while the last two were more traditional and romantic. I loved ‘em all. Libby Bowl is a perfect setting and, thankfully, the weather was also perfect. The people are friendly and the ambiance is casual elegance. NYTimes review: http://nyti.ms/M1IE15