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Ojai Music Festival announces 2011 lineup

October 12, 2010 |  3:14 pm


Dawn Upshaw is nobody's idea of a timid musician. The opera soprano will serve as music director of the Ojai Music Festival this summer, and the just-announced lineup reflects her well-known taste for the adventurous and offbeat.

The festival, running June 9-12, will feature the reopening of the Libbey Bowl following renovations to improve the 53-year-old venue's sight lines, seating and artist facilities. The program will feature a new commission by American composer Maria Schneider plus a production staged by Peter Sellars.

Upshaw said that the program reflects her own desire to work with some of her closest colleagues. "I tried to create a festival of real variety and music-making," said the soprano, on the phone from upstate New York.

The first main performance of the festival, on June 10, will be George Crumb's "Winds of Destiny (American Songbook IV)," featuring Upshaw in a production directed by Sellars. The performance also will feature pianist Gilbert Kalish and the group red fish blue fish, with percussionist Steven Schick.

Crumb's piece uses text from Civil War songs, but Upshaw said the Sellars production will focus on a female member of the U.S. military who has returned home after fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Violinist Richard Tognetti will appear in a June 11 concert that will feature music by Leos Janácek, Peter Sculthorpe, Beethoven and Prokofiev. The violinist will appear the same day with the Australian Chamber Orchestra in a concert of music by Giacinto Scelsi, Alfred Schnittke and more.

Schneider will appear on June 12 in a concert featuring her jazz work. The final concert of the festival will take place on the same day and feature the world premiere of a new composition by Schneider that was co-commissioned by the Ojai Music Festival, Cal Performances and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Pieces by Crumb, Grieg and Bartók will round out that concert.

-- David Ng

Photo: Dawn Upshaw, with members of eighth blackbird, at the Libbey Bowl. Credit: Ojai Music Festival