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Entertainment & Arts

Ojai Music Festival, citing coronavirus, cancels for the first time in 74 years

Roomful of Teeth and the International Contemporary Ensemble perform “Kopernikus” at the 2016 Ojai Music Festival. The 2020 festival has been canceled.
Roomful of Teeth and the International Contemporary Ensemble perform at the 2016 Ojai Music Festival. The 2020 festival has been canceled.
(Callaghan O’Hare / Los Angeles Times)

The Ojai Music Festival has joined the list of coronavirus cancellations, festival board Chairman Jerry Eberhardt said Tuesday, marking the first time since its founding in 1947 that the annual celebration of experimental classical music will not be held.

The news comes as coronavirus cases mount throughout the country, including in California, which as of Tuesday had reported nearly 2,500 confirmed cases and 50 deaths.

“As we were monitoring the COVID-19 crisis over these last several weeks, we considered the unpredictability of travel as well as the safety and comfort of our artists and patrons,” Eberhardt said in the announcement. “It has also become clear that the institution cannot shoulder the projected financial burden due to the forecasted drop in festival revenue and increase in festival expenses.”

The festival is known internationally for hosting some of the world’s most innovative musicians and for shining a spotlight on up-and-coming new music talent. This summer’s installment was to be guided by Music Director Matthias Pintscher in collaboration with Artistic Director Chad Smith, who also is chief executive of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

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Smith said in a statement that next year’s festival already is being planned by Ojai’s next artistic director, Ara Guzelimian, along with 2021 Music Director John Adams.

“I am eager to see you all in Ojai in June 2021 when we will celebrate 75 years of the world’s most adventurous music-making in this uniquely idyllic place,” Smith said.

Festival coordinators are asking that patrons who purchased tickets to consider making a tax-deductible donation of the value of those tickets to the organization. Those unable to do so are being encouraged to use the value of their 2020 tickets toward the purchase of 2021 tickets.

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