Posts Tagged 'Libbey Bowl'

Ojai Music Festival

Avant-garde can be both a noun and an adjective. As the latter, it means favoring or introducing experimental or unusual ideas. As any one of these ideas is untried, a certain percent of them will fall flat, fail to succeed, or in contemporary usage, be just plain ca-ca.

The Ojai Music Festival wends its way into town this weekend. It brings with it several truckloads of what can be termed avant-garde or contemporary music. A thousand people, mostly from other than Ojai, will squeeze into Libbey Bowl and sit enraptured while artists do their best to be unique and engaging. Local businesses will also be ecstatic as the town swells with well-heeled patrons of the arts.

Before the new Libbey Bowl was constructed a few years ago with its high impact, relatively uncomfortable plastic seats, concert goers sat on high impact, very uncomfortable wooden benches. A once homey feel, the old benches were fraught with the possibility of slivers in your fanny.

Before its recent facelift, you also had the option of bringing lawn chairs, sitting on the grass at the back of the Bowl and, if you were lucky, got a reasonable, though pixie-like, view of what was happening on the stage. The Bowl renovation left things as they were, minus the view.

When Ila and I arrived in Ojai eighteen years ago, we had never heard of the Festival. Our sources of information about the Festival were limited. But always ready to try something new, we bought bench seat tickets, dressed warmly and attended a Saturday night concert. Not sure where our seats began or ended, we simply allowed ourselves to be shouldered at will by our bench mates. We took it in stride, sat back and anticipated classical music. We expected Beethoven, Brahms and Bach. Shostakovich was perhaps as far out as it would get.

What we did get can best be described by my recollection of the first performer. A man, neatly dressed, entered stage left and sat at what appeared to be an expensive Steinway piano. So far so good. But not for long. He began to play…with his elbows. Or so it seemed. I’ve told this story so many times that I don’t really know if he was actually using his elbows. Perhaps he was just clever enough to finger the keys in a way that sounded like he was using his elbows.

Taking a well deserve break at half-time, we mingled with the crowd and tried to look erudite. Our friend Ralph, fresh from yelling Bravo! blocked our way and said “Wasn’t that wonderful? Wasn’t it inspiring?” Never having been mistaken for someone who could be an Ambassador to the Vatican, I said “No it wasn’t.” Ralph waved me off as someone who definitely was ill-suited to premium bench seats.

We were not to be dissuaded. Still searching for the Holy Grail, Ila and I continued to attend the Festival each June. We confessed to our low-level erudition and had demoted ourselves to the lawn area. We didn’t see much, but then no one seemed to mind if I closed my eyes and feigned being erudite; as long as I didn’t snore.

A number of years ago, one of my riders on the Help of Ojai bus was a man in his nineties. During one of our  trips together, Mike and I talked about music and I asked him if he had ever been to the Music Festival. “I haven’t been there yet but I do regularly attend concerts in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Maybe it’s time I tried the one at Bowl.”

About ten minutes before the opening afternoon of the 2010 performance, here came my ninety-ish bus-mate Mike. He had spotted me and carefully picked his way to us through the mass of other less erudite concert goers. He unfolded his chair, a bit of a task given his age and the built-in complexity of those medieval instruments of torture, and plunked himself down next to me. We listened to the first half of the performance without identifying a piece that would offer lasting memories. At its conclusion, Mike got up, folded his chair and said “I’ve heard quite enough.” He wandered out of the Bowl, never to be seen again.

Years ago, I had the pleasure of breakfasting with Bill Kraft. Bill was, and still is, an elderly gentleman who in his earlier days had been the lead tympanist for the Los Angeles Symphony. After sharing our mutual genealogies, I took the opportunity to tell him about my difficulty with the Festival’s avant garde music. “Bill, I don’t know what’s the matter with me. Try as I might, I cannot fathom the music, much less appreciate and like it.” Bill unhesitatingly drew himself up to his full five-foot-four height and said “You don’t have to like it. It’s okay to dislike it. You are not a lesser human being for not liking it. And studiously avoid anyone who tells you that you must develop a liking for it.”

I still buy Festival tickets every year.

A Tree Grows All Alone at Libbey Bowl

I opened an e-mail from Anna this morning.  One of my favorite people at the Ojai Music Festival office, I always enjoy hearing from her even when she’s asking for money.

I had all but forgotten that Sweetie and I had donated some bucks to the building of the new Libbey Bowl and had asked to be recognized through the adoption of one of the new trees gracing the site.

Anna’s e-mail informed me that some plaque-snatcher had either absconded with or trashed the memorializing plaque.  And we had never even seen it, never had the pleasure of meeting our tree.

I’m sure that our no-doubt glorious tree had enjoyed the company of the fancy sign with our names on it.  After all, what better way to spend a relatively unmoving existence than wondering who those folks were whose names stood in close proximity to its ever-expanding trunk.  Could they be famous people?  Surely they must be tree lovers.  But sadly, over time, the tree wondered why they never came to visit.

Braving the elements, struggling to send its roots to a more stable location, and listening to what at times must have seemed like discordant sounds emanating from the often strange-looking performers elevated above the seated multitude, the tree remained confident that its plaque-listed donors would eventually reveal themselves. And it would finally have a good tree hug.

Maybe it might, god willing, happen during the upcoming Music Festival.  Surely, they would come then, seek it out, introduce themselves, wrap their arms around its trunk, and marvel at what they had wrought.

I shudder to imagine what probably happened to dash the excitement that the tree must have felt in anticipation of the visit of its benefactors.  What put an end to one of its fondest desires.

It was dark.  Night, a time for the tree to rest and ingest oxygen after an exhausting day of absorbing carbon dioxide and producing the life-giving breath enjoyed by humans.  Disturbed by the approach of an unidentifiable specter, the tree wondered who might be roaming the park at this late hour.

Nearer the specter came.  Stopping before the tree, it slowly looked left, looked right, looked behind.  Reaching down at the base of the tree, the specter grasped the plaque.  The tree exploded with fear.  It expelled a silent tree scream.  Those are my friends.  They are coming to visit.  Don’t take that plaque.  They’ll never find me.  I’ll be alone.  Please...

Wrenching the plaque from its moorings, the specter listened and understood the tree’s pleading.  The specter looked at the welcoming umbrella of tree leaves, the smoothness of the graceful trunk, and proceeded to harden its heart.  It curled its lips into a sneer and malevolently twisted the plaque, rendering it into unrecognizable, useless, junk.  Dropping the detritus at the foot of the tree, the specter looked up and said I hate you, those who brought you here, and what you represent.

The tree, a sentient being serving only to enrich the lives of others, did not understand the specter.  But you do.

sad tree

Libbey Bowl Has Seats

Over 900 seats have been installed at the Bowl and the lawn seating area is ready for prime time.  If you would like a 360 degree ride around the site, click on the photo.  When you arrive at the Photosynth site, click on the plus sign to enlarge the image before scrolling around.

Libbey Bowl 360 degree Panorama

Time for another Libbey Bowl panorama.  This one was done on December 3. 

Click on the image and you will be taken to the pano host website.  Be patient while it loads, then scroll around the construction site.

Don’t forget your hard hat.


Raising the Arch at Libbey Bowl

If you missed the raising of the main arch at Libbey Bowl on November 23, you might like to see the slide show…click on the arch

Libbey Bowl—November 11 Construction Photos

The bowl is on schedule and on budget.  And no one seems to be angry.  Refreshing, isn’t it?

Here are the latest photos taken on November 11.  Click on the photos to enlarge them.


Head on…wall on stage right is at its maximum, stage left has 4 feet to go…



Looking west through stage left.  Stage right is in the distance…


Stage right…


Stage left…

Libbey Bowl-Progress Photos

Reconstruction of Ojai’s Libbey Bowl is on schedule.  You can follow the progress by viewing each of these images.

To enlarge an image, click on it.

To see all of them in person, visit the windows in Rains Department Store.

Old Bowl


July 15


 September 10



October 15

Libbey Bowl-The work goes on

For those of you who are intimately involved with the reconstruction of Libbey Bowl (and for those who may be just lookie-loos) here’s a 360 degree panorama of the site as of September 10, 2010.  All you have to do is scroll around on the site just like you were standing in the middle of it.

Click and Enjoy.

Libbey Bowl Pano

Libbey Bowl Slide Show-July 11-15, 2010

Thought you might like to see a slide show of the bowl activity from July 11 thru July 15.  Patience is a virtue as the show loads into your browser…especially if you pick the hi rez version.

Click here…

Libbey Bowl-A Work in Progress

Thanks to many of you, the construction of the new Libbey Bowl is underway.  But before we forget, here’s the old bowl…

Sweetie and I have volunteered to chronicle the building of the new bowl.  We spent $14 on two hard hats at Ace, so we plan to get our money’s worth.

We’ll be taking photos at various stages of its construction and plan to periodically post them so you can keep up with the project.  For those of you who may need to get close up and personal, we will occasionally put hard copies of some of the photos in Rains Department store windows.  You may have already seen the above photo (the Bowl, not Sweetie) as you strolled by the store.

McGillivray Construction began their work on July 11.  On July 15 we took a 360 degree panorama of the site.  If you click on the photo shown below, you will be taken to the Photosynth website.  You may be prompted to install a Microsoft utility application (Silverlight) in order to view the pano in all its gloriousness.  That done, use your mouse and scroll around as though you were standing in the middle of the construction zone.  We know it looks like the London Blitz.  But we expect that things will improve shortly.

We’ll keep you posted!



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