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“Tradition of excellence:” Festival Mozaic returns with a focus on women composers


Festival Mozaic, the popular Central Coast music festival, is back. After having their 2020 season cancelled because of the pandemic, the festival is putting on a smaller set of concerts this year, with a focus on chamber music and women composers.

“I can't really stress how grateful I am to have the opportunity to play in front of people who are interested in listening. That is not a job, that's a gift,” said conductor and violinist Scott Yoo.

Yoo has been the music director for the festival since 2005. He said the pandemic-related closures have made him appreciate the value of live music even more than before.

“There are a lot of festivals that are still not performing live music, and I don't take it for granted for one second that we're able to play concerts for people who are actually there with us. I don't think I'll ever take that for granted again in my life. Just to have that snatched away from you for so many, for over a year… you realize what you miss,” Yoo said.

Besides Festival Mozaic, Yoo is also the host of a PBS series about classical music called “Now Hear This.” One of the episodes in the show’s third season will be about women composers — specifically composer and pianist Amy Beach.

“We wanted to take a look at the music of Amy Beach, and specifically the music of other women composers that sort of led up to Amy Beach. And the producer and I agreed that Festival Mozaic would be an ideal place to tell that story, and given the wonderful musicians that we have in our ranks,” Yoo said.

Yoo said the Amy Beach episode of “Now Hear This” will feature performances from this year’s Festival Mozaic. It will feature what he calls world-class musicians and venues on the Central Coast.

“It just made sense to do it with the Festival Mozaic because we have both — we have the great musicians but we also have the stunning beauty of the Central Coast. It's unparalleled,” Yoo said.

Lloyd Tanner, the executive director of Festival Mozaic, said the lean into women composers this year was a conscious choice of Yoo’s.

“That's in part in collaboration with his PBS series, ‘Now Hear This,’ but also just an opportunity to continue to refine our programming, our diversity, and making sure that we're paying attention to that without, you know, calling it the Women In Music Festival,” Tanner said.

Tanner said he is looking forward to the performers at this year’s festival.

“We have some great guest artists coming in. I'm super excited about Gaby Moreno coming. She's based out of L.A. but is from Guatemala — singer/songwriter, just really really beautiful — and in one of our iconic locations, the Dana Adobe, which is on the Nipomo Mesa — beautiful sunsets against the San Lucia Mountains. It's so, so wonderful,” Tanner said.

For Scott Yoo, this year’s festival is only possible because of the Central Coast community.

“We are just thrilled because we are, as an organization, doing better than we ever have, certainly in my tenure. And we owe that to the support of the community who really wants us to thrive, and it makes me feel even more of the sense of responsibility to continue to uphold the tradition of excellence at this festival. So I'm really excited. That's an understatement,” Yoo said.

This year’s Festival Mozaic starts July 24. KCBX is a media sponsor for the festival.

For more information and tickets, you can visit festivalmozaic.org.

The KCBX Arts Beat is made possible by a grant from the Shanbrom Family Foundation.

Benjamin Purper was News Director of KCBX from May of 2021 to September of 2023. He came from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
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