It was my final performance at the Oregon Bach Festival for 2013, and it was quite a historical event for the festival. This concert marked the symbolic ‘passing of the baton’ from founding Artistic Director Helmut Rilling to the Artistic Director Designate Matthew Halls. Continue reading
Tuesday night was the only full concert conducting appearance at this year’s festival by Oregon Bach Festival Artistic director designate Matthew Halls. It was a doozy. Entitled “A Night at the Opera”, it was a nearly seamless exploration of operatic masterpieces by the three birthday boys of the opera this year: Wagner, Verdi and Britten. With evocative images projected on the rear wall of the stage, the OBF orchestra and a stellar array of vocal soloists presented a succession of operatic gems to the assembled gala crowd. Continue reading
We’re just had our first rehearsal of the first week of the 2013 Oregon Bach Festival. It’s a big year for the organization, with the founding conductor and artistic director Helmuth Rilling stepping into the role of artistic director emeritus with the ascendance of Matthew Halls as the new artistic director of the festival beginning in 2014. Continue reading
Last night marked the end of this year’s Oregon Bach Festival for me, with a remarkable performance of Michael Tippett’s oratorio A Child of Our Time, under the direction of the OBF’s artistic director designate Matthew Halls. The Tippett was completely unknown to me before these rehearsals and performances, and I’m not sure why it doesn’t get performed more often. It is a very difficult sing for the choir – I heard many members talking during rehearsal breaks about the difficulties of the counting and awkward intervals that the choruses present. It was presented as a counterpoint to the other major work being done at OBF this year, the St. Matthew Passion of J.S. Bach. Indeed, Tippett’s work is based upon the form of Bach’s great work. Also interesting is Tippett’s use of traditional spirituals which are interspersed throughout the work. Continue reading
From the OBF’s blog:
Eugene, Oregon—The Oregon Bach Festival announced today the appointment of 35-year-old British conductor and keyboardist Matthew Halls as its next artistic director.
Halls will assume artistic leadership after the 2013 season, succeeding Helmuth Rilling, the founding artistic director from Stuttgart who will remain with the University of Oregon event as director emeritus.
In his announcement, John Evans, OBF president and executive director, said that Halls was the ideal candidate at the right time.
“In Matthew, we found a candidate who has it all,” said Evans, “a range of repertoire well-matched to the programming needs of the Festival; an international reputation in the worlds of choral and early music, specializing in historically-informed performances; consummate skill as a Bach interpreter; a commitment to teaching and education; and most of all, a figure who is passionate about the music at the heart of the OBF, and charismatic in communicating that passion.”“I’m absolutely thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to continue and develop my relationship with the Oregon Bach Festival,” said Halls.
“It is a very great honor for me to accept the position of Artistic Director at the festival upon the retirement of Helmuth Rilling—a colossal musical figure for whom I have the deepest admiration,” he continued. “I am looking forward to working closely with John Evans to help preserve everything that makes this festival so special, whilst exploring and developing new ideas that will allow the festival’s musical and educational programs to continue to grow. Above all, I look forward to summer months in Oregon filled with music-making of the highest level as we all make our annual pilgrimage to the Pacific Northwest to celebrate and honor the musical legacy of the great Johann Sebastian Bach.”