UC San Diego's Department of Music

January 28, 2014

  Steven Schick has been appointed music director for the 2015 Ojai Music Festival, an international showcase for new music. He is the first percussionist ever in the position and joins an elite group that includes his successors Peter Sellars (2016) and Esa-Pekka Salonen (2017), as well as predecessors Boulez, Copland, and Stravinsky.

Schick adds the new job to a packed agenda that already includes directing UC San Diego's resident percussion ensemble red fish blue fish, serving as artistic director for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and music director for La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, and frequent international gigs as a performer and conductor.

The Ojai Music Festival has its roots in the 1920s, when the Ojai Valley--just east of Santa Barbara and north of Ventura--became a focal point for arts and culture where Stravinsky, Garbo, Brecht, Chaplin, Cage, spiritual leader Krishnamurti, and many more came for creative retreats on 40 acres purchased by Annie Besant, head of the Theosophical Society. The festival began in 1947 with many types of performances, but in the 1960s began to focus on new and experimental music.

And, a very Happy Birthday to Mr. Schick, who turns 60 this year and celebrates with a pair of concerts at the Miller Theatre in New York City. On January 30, Origins included Stockhausen's Zyklus along with music by Morton Feldman, Helmut Lachenmann, Vinko Globokar, Iannis Xenakis, and Alvin Lucier. Two nights later, Schick's Responses program covered works by Gustavo Aguilar, David Lang, Brian Ferneyhough, Kaija Saariaho, Michael Gordon, John Luther Adams, Mark Applebaum, and Nathan Davis.

Alex Ross, esteemed critic for the New Yorker, pays Schick his due in a column titled Weather Man: A percussion virtuoso patrols the outer reaches of sound, praising the "narrative momentum" of Schick's performances. Meanwhile, the Wall St. Journal's Steve Dollar provides a detailed profile of Schick under the headline The Eloquent Language of Noise.

Schick's Miller Theatre concerts impressed several music critics. The New York Times was impressed by Schick's "mathematical virtuosity" and "elegantly economical body movements." New York Magazine's called Schick "a wizard of skin, wood and metal;" New York Classical Review noted his "absolute command of this music;" while Jim Chute from UT San Diego  observed Schick's inventive use of his body as another percussion instrument. "You could say he does bare all."

Schick's next concert at UC San Diego is Feb. 27 at 8 pm at Mandeville Auditorium, where he gives the first San Diego performance of Schick Machine, a solo piece created for him by composer, performer and UCSD music alumnus Paul Dresher. The "machine" is a large percussion environment designed especially for Schick by Dresher.

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