The natural beauty of the Ojai valley is worthy of the new music and traditional performances scheduled at the Ojai Music Festival. Just ask Janneke Straub, who has been commuting from her home in Larchmont Village since she took the reins of the 68th festival earlier this year.
She is executive director of the four-day fest, which takes place Thurs., June 12 to Sun., June 15 in Libbey Bowl and parks and venues throughout the picturesque town two hours north of Los Angeles.
Music director Jeremy Denk’s comic opera, “The Classical Style (An Opera of Sorts),” premieres Friday night of the festival. Each year a new music director brings a fresh perspective.
“Our goal is to encourage these musicians to come to us with a project that is close to their hearts and develop something exceptional in this intimate, nurturing setting,” said Janneke. Contemporary composer Uri Caine and cabaret-style vocalist Storm Large (of Pink Martini fame) are on the bill, as well as works by Janáček, Schubert, Mozart and Beethoven.
About 4,000 people are expected to attend and another 10,000 to listen online to live streaming. Straub will ensure the festival’s 25 concerts and events run smoothly.
As chief fundraiser, Straub meets with donors from around the state and the country. Formerly executive director of the American Youth Symphony, she worked on Los Angeles Philharmonic’s capital campaigns and the first seasons at Walt Disney Concert Hall. An accomplished flutist and chamber musician, the Dutch native studied music at the Conservatoire National de Region de Nice, and political science and English literature at Sorbonne University in Paris.
These days she listens more than plays. “I do feel very fortunate to hear so much music,” she says. She lives on Arden with husband Gene. The couple were instrumental in founding Larchmont Charter School, where Gene serves today as executive director. Both of their children attend the school. Nicholas is 12 and Juliette, 16.
Between the apricot trees and open vistas of Ojai and the small-town feel of Larchmont, she agrees she has the best of both worlds. For more information and tickets visit ojaifestival.org.