News

News from around the Ojai Valley

Saturday, June 8: Director Hannigan weaves compelling potpourri of words 

6 9 1OMF June8 Afternoon Concert Ludwig 02 6 9 2 OMF June8 Afternoon Concert LudwigEQ 14 6 9 3 OMF June8 Afternoon Concert Ludwig 11
The Saturday, June 8, concerts were a delight.
 
The 2020 Ojai Music Festival will be June 11 to 14, led by music director Matthias Pintscher, composer, conductor, teacher and advocate. Featured compositions scheduled are by Pierre Boulez, Chaya Czernow, Helmut Lachenmann, Olga Neuwirth, Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Pintscher himself. Ensemble Intercontemporain will make its festival debut. For information about the festival: OjaiFestival.org or 805-646-2053.
 
Saturday, June 8
By Rita Moran
Special to the Ojai Valley News
Like a powerful queen with wide-ranging concerns, Ojai Music Festival’s 2019 leader Barbara Hannigan wove a compelling potpourri of words and music as Saturday night’s featured singer in John Zorn’s “Jumalattaret.”
Texts selected from the Kalevala, a Finnish epic of the birth of a country, were entwined as they rose from their powerful past. From them, Zorn spun music whose essence only a bright and versatile soprano could capture. That, of course, is Hannigan’s strength, qualities she’s been demonstrating throughout the festival. With Stephen Gosling at the piano, she once again found the work's heart.
That fascinating segment was followed by Rites of Passage, featuring a collage of vocalists who can deliver Hannigan’s intent, this time in a series of folk songs that represent a rainbow of cultures and styles in depicting the dreams and sometime the essence of the countries. The Equilibrium Singers offered “The Golden Ladder,” from Morocco, followed by Aphrodite Patoulidou, with “Dawn is Breaking” over Kalymynos Island, in her native Greece; Yannis Francois with “The Monitor Lizard” referencing South Africa; Alex Ciciretti and Edo Frenkel in “Kiev” by Zorn; ”Rainbow Sister” from China, sung by Fleur Barron; “Fair Lisa” from Wales, Elgan Llyr Thomas; “Botany Bay," Australia, Kate Howden; “My Love Is Mine” by England’s John Dove, sung by James Way; and the always familiar “Guantanamera,” Cuba, sung in the familiar easy spirit by Antoin Herrera-Lopez Kessel.
But it was Hannigan again, along with the LUDWIG ensemble and conductor Steven Schick, who brought Gerald Grisey’s “Four Songs for Crossing the Threshold” into searing focus as she and the ensemble made their way through the perilous, and inevitable, path: deaths of the angel, the voice, humanity and finally of civilization.
Sunday’s final concert brings together Stravinsky’s “Pulcinella,” Haydn’s Symphony No. 40 “La Passione,” and Gershwin’s “Girl Crazy Suite,” with the LUDWIG ensemble, Edo Frenkel at piano and celeste, and Hannigan as conductor and soprano.
The 2020 Ojai Music Festival will be June 11 to 14, led by music director Matthias Pintscher, composer, conductor, teacher and advocate. Featured compositions scheduled are by Pierre Boulez, Chaya Czernow, Helmut Lachenmann, Olga Neuwirth, Anna Thorvaldsdottir and Pintscher himself. Ensemble Intercontemporain will make its festival debut. For information about the festival: OjaiFestival.org or 805-646-2053.
 
 
 
 
 
 
6 8 Singers 6 8 OMF June7 Afternoon Concert JackQuartet 08 6 8 webo 3OMF June7 Evening Concert Hannigan 04
Soprano Aphrodite Patoulidou with conductor Barbara Hannigan on June 7.  Also performing Friday was the JACK Quartet.
 
 
 To see a Music Festival program, log on tohttps://www.ojaifestival.org/2019-festival-schedule/The concert and talks are also live-streamed by the Ojai Music Festival athttps://www.ojaifestival.org/2019-live-stream-schedule/ 
 
 
FRIDAY, JUNE 7
By Rita Moran
Special to the Ojai Valley News
The subtle strands of Debussy, Ravel and Messiaen opened Friday night’s Ojai Music Festival concert, luring the audience with reflections on the moon, ocean and wind. Pianist Stephen Gosling rendered the soothing contemplations elegantly.
But it was the evening’s final piece and presentation that had fans leaping to their feet and exuberantly applauding. Claude Vivier’s “Lonely Child” was rendered with compelling beauty by soprano Aphrodite Patoulidou, a rising star with many talents.
In two nights at the festival, she has quickly garnered a following for her vocal clarity and expression. Her “Lonely Child” performance with the LUDWIG ensemble conducted by festival music director Barbara Hannigan was hauntingly beautiful. She will be among featured singers at Saturday night’s 7:30 concert as part of the Equilibrium Singers, a band of young performers initiated by Hannigan and demonstrating the strength and skill of its members.
Hannigan, this time as featured soprano, joined in Friday’s festivities with the JACK Quartet in etching Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2. The quartet, which appeared at the festival in 2018, is sought after in contemporary music circles and consists of violinists Christopher Otto and Austin Wulliman, violist John Pickford Richards and cellist Jay Campbell. 
Debussy’s “Syrinx” was hauntingly rendered by flutist Ingrid Geerlings, introducing the second half of the program from under a flourishing tree spotlighted high above the stage area.  
Hannigan returned to the stage, this time as conductor for the final two works, Schoenberg’s “Verklarte Nacht” and Claude Vivier’s “Lonely Child.” The LUDWIG orchestral group solidly performed the vivid works. LUDWIG, an adventurous Dutch-founded ensemble, performs in many sizes and styles and will be onstage again for Sunday’s Festival finale.
 
THURSDAY, JUNE 6
‘Rake’s Progress’ staged in moody darkness
By Rita Moran
Special to the Ojai Valley News
Ojai Music Festival fans who crowded into the popular Ojai Talks presentation June 6 afternoon found the conversations exhilarating. This year’s music director, Canadian-born Barbara Hannigan, whose multiple skills include singing and directing, proved she’s not only artistically productive but also comfortable chatting about the multifaceted musical group she founded.
The Equilibrium Mentoring Initiative is composed of vocalists early in their careers. Hannigan said that when she announced the project, she received 350 applications from 39 countries. From the 125 who auditioned she chose 20. A standout in the group onstage for Thursday night’s presentation of Stravinsky’s “The Rake’s Progress” was soprano Aphrodite Patoulidou in the role of the young woman who loved The Rake and tried to help him become the man she would have been happy to marry.
Staged in moody darkness with Hannigan conducting musicians organized at the back of the space, the production opened with Tom Rakewell (tenor Elgan Llyr Thomas) hedged inside a brown box that “explodes” when the walls are pulled away. Patoulidou (Anne Truelove) asks her father to bless a marriage to Rakewell, but he clearly has a foreboding about the prospect. In tune with the innovative presentation, multitalented bass Antoin Herrera-Lopez Kessel convincingly played the roles of Father Truelove, Keeper of Madhouse and Mother Goose during the roll-out of the plot.
Joining in the production were other Equilibrium affiliates: base Yannis Francois as the tempter Nick Shadow; mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron as the bearded Baba the Turk; and tenor James Way as Selem.
Choral backing was provided by Los Robles Master Chorale, under the direction of Lesley Leighton. Harpsichordist Edo Frenkel added the instrument’s distinctive sound to the haunting experience of watching “The Rake’s Progress” as rendered under Hannigan’s creative spell.
The innovative LUDWIG, an instrumental group founded in Holland, proved another effective collaborator for the “Rake.”
 
 — Ojai Valley News music reviewer Rita Moran will be providing reviews of the Ojai Music Festival through the weekend.
Pin It

Subscription Plans

When you subscribe to our print version for $65 per year ($1.25 per week), the Online Subscription is included.

Thank you for partipating in Ojai's free-press; reporting for the people since 1891.

Questions? Give us a call at 805-646-1476, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Duration: 1 year
Price: $65

New subscribers — purchase one year Online access to the Ojai Valley News for only $36 per year ($3 per month); support professional journalism and your local free-press.

Questions? Contact us 805-646-1476; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Duration: 12 months
Price: $36
Need Subscription Print & Online

This $52 rate option is available for those who wish to subscribe with full print and online but need financial assistance. Readership is important to us; if you feel that the regular rate of $65 is a burden to you, choose this rate and keep reading!

Questions? Contact us at 805-646-1476; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Duration: 365 days
Price: $52