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An international music festival returns to Ventura County

ojai music fest pic 1.jpg
Caroline Feraday
Ojai Music Festival runs Thursday through Sunday

The Ojai Music Festival features four days of outdoor classical and contemporary performances.

Rehearsals are underway on the stage at the Libbey Bowl in Ojai.

The piece is called Echoing of Tenses, by composer Anthony Cheung, and it will be one of the contemporary and classical performances which will take place from Thursday through Sunday at the Ojai Music festival.

The festival has been a summer fixture in the town for over 60 years, Ara Guzelimian, Artistic and Executive Director of the Ojai Music festival told KCLU.

"Ojai Music Festival goes back to 1947," said Guzelimian. "It started with a more traditionally oriented festival. By the early 1950's the festival had taken it's present shape, which is this lovely combination of informality. The festival - in a way true to Ojai, began to take on a really adventurous character in the 1950's."

He says there’s a reason the decades-long festival stays fresh each year.

"The festival has an unusual structure in that there's a new music director chosen every year and they're simply given an open stage to fill as they desire creatively.

"Each year it's reinvented as new."

This year, the artistic director isn’t one person – but 17 people, who form a music collective called AMOC, the American Modern Opera Company.

"But they are hardly an opera company in the traditional sense, said Guzelimian. "They are instrumentalists, singers, composers, dancers, choreographers, stage directors, and conductors, who work together in an amazingly collaborative way."

ojai music fest pic 2.jpg
Caroline Feraday
The festival takes place at the Libbey Bowl

It’s not just about the musical program – the setting is amid nature – with a bank of seats, or a grassy lawn where you can set yourself up on a blanket and enjoy the music offerings

"Ojai for generations has attracted artists and explorers," said Guzelimian. "I like to think this valley is particularly conducive to creativity and discovery."

He continued, "For me, the best Ojai [Festival] is hearing something completely unexpected and saying, 'I didn't know I would love this.'"

The Ojai Music Festival runs from Thursday through Sunday.