'He's just a guy who....'

This year's Ojai Music Festival will be the last under the artistic direction of Ernest Fleischmann. After just five years in the post, Fleischmann, managing director of the L.A. Philharmonic for nearly 30 years, turns over Ojai to Cleveland Orchestra executive director Thomas Morris.

"It really needs fresh ideas, fresh minds; I don't think anybody should stay longer than five years on a festival like that," Fleischmann says.

But the 78-year-old Fleischmann still isn't retiring.

"Ojai was a very small part of my activities," he says. Included on his post-Ojai resume: artistic consulting gigs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Germany's Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Australia's Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and a post as CEO of the White Knights Foundation (as in St. Petersburg's annual White Knights Festival).

"I find it difficult," Fleischmann observes, "to say no."

-- Diane Haithman

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