Festivities in Ojai

I’ve been off taking a lot of photos in central California’s “Shangri-La” in the Ojai valley, which was filled with music that was decidedly cosmopolitan and mostly contemporary. The Ojai Music Festival has been bringing world class performers to the Libbey Bowl  since 1947, and each year features a different Music Director chosen from luninaries of the musical arts world to delight and challenge audiences. The 71st Director was pianist and composer Vijay Iyer, best know for jazz and fusions of contemporary classical, world and electronic music. All was there in abundance during this year’s festival, eclectic being the operative word. Things got off to a big and rousing start on June 8th with two of Mr. Iyer’s compositions, “Emergent” and “Trouble,” featuring a large orchestra made up of ICE and the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble conducted with verve by Festival regular Steven Schick. The first piece was the jazzier of the two with the orchestra joined by the Vijay Iyer Trio – Vijay Iyer on piano, bassist Stephen Crump and electrifying drummer Tyshawn Sorey. Virtuoso violinist Jennifer Koh brought dazzling intensity and playing to “Trouble,” the more contemporary classical of the 2 pieces. The evening ended on a more cerebral note with the atmospherically mysterious “A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke, composed and played by Iyer and trumpeter Waddado Leo Smith.