Review: Wide-ranging Ojai festival curated by Barbara Hannigan

Posted on: June 13, 2019

“First there’s Barbara Hannigan the singer,” writes Joshua Barone in Tuesday’s (6/11) New York Times. “Then there’s Barbara Hannigan the conductor…. Meet Barbara Hannigan the curator. She programmed this year’s Ojai Music Festival [in California] … with the help of Thomas W. Morris, the festival’s outgoing artistic director. And she came up with a well-balanced meal: four days of concerts, talks and screenings…. In addition to assisting Ms. Hannigan in planning, Mr. Morris appeared onstage twice: reciting poetry in ‘Façade’ (William Walton’s ridiculous ‘Pierrot Lunaire’ sendup) and joyously jamming with the rest of the musicians in Terry Riley’s ‘In C.’ After that piece, Ms. Hannigan surprised [Morris] with an affecting rendition of Kurt Weill’s ‘Lost in the Stars.’ Throughout the weekend, young singers from Equilibrium, Ms. Hannigan’s artist development initiative … provided vocal muscle…. The most invigorating … guest artists were the players of the JACK Quartet, a perfect match for Ms. Hannigan’s voracious search for new music…. Ojai was at its best any time Ms. Hannigan sang—head-spinningly agile in ‘Jumalattaret,’ frightening in ‘Quatre Chants’ and charming in ‘Façade,’ in which she, in Sprechstimme, recited unintelligible poetry at a sprint that would give Lin-Manuel Miranda a run for his money.”

Posted June 13, 2019

In photo: At the 2019 Ojai Music Festival, music director Barbara Hannigan performs with the Ludwig players in Gérard Grisey’s “Quatre Chants pour Franchir le Seuil.” Photo by Jake Michaels / New York Times