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Festival Registers Solid Finish

  • Jul 27, 2006
[caption id="attachment_3021" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Helmuth Rilling accepts the ovation following the Requiem."][/caption] EUGENE - The Oregon Bach Festival concluded its 2006 season with a triumphant final concert, a new CD recording projected for a spring '07 release, and a solid year at the gate. Following a stirring performance of the Mozart Requiem that instantly brought a packed audience to its feet for a 10-minute ovation, executive Director Royce Saltzman recounted high points of the 17-day event of the University of Oregon, which attracted a total audience of 27,000 from 279 cities in 37 states, six countries, and four continents, and featured more than 400 performers from Taiwan, Japan, Canada, Germany, Poland, and across the U.S. "We broke new ground with new interpretations of works by Bach," Saltzman said, referring to the American premiere of The Sound of Eternity, a movie inspired by Bach's Mass in B Minor, and the eclectic re-interpretation of the Goldberg Variations by pianist Uri Caine. "Virtually without exception, in every concert, audience members commented to me about the high quality of this summer's Festival. "We inaugurated music performances in the new First Baptist Church with a sold-out hall. We set the stage for listeners around the world to discover the brilliance of Haydn's Creation Mass with a live recording. And with major gifts from the Lilah Stangeland and Tom Wildish families," Saltzman emphasized, "we were able to push beyond the halfway mark in our drive for a $10 million endowment, right on schedule." Prior to the Festival, Saltzman announced his intention to step up from the executive director position after the 2007 season to focus on completing the endowment. The job notice for Saltzman's successor was made public July 13. Helmuth Rilling, cofounder and conductor, was equally pleased with the artistic level this summer. "We had many great performances," Rilling said. "Especially the Requiem and the C Minor Mass, in this 250th anniversary year of Mozart, and the Haydn Creation Mass, a work which is not so often heard. I am very pleased that so many people from Eugene and other areas of Oregon and the world could come and share in this wonderful music." For the first time in a major Festival concert, Rilling shared the stage with one of his family members as soloist. Violinist Rahel Rilling was featured in the July 14 program of Bach and Haydn. Going into the final concert, the Festival had reached $350,000 in sales, 92% of its goal. The sales mark slightly exceeded the 2005 level and included five sell-outs, also an improvement over the previous year, when no concerts had sold out. The Festival received sponsorship and in-kind support from 80 national and local businesses, and was aided by 200 volunteers who performed hundreds of hours of essential tasks. The Festival estimates its direct economic impact to the region at $2.7 million. Saltzman was satisfied with the gate but said those figures need to be improved for the long-term success of the event. "These are not easy times for arts organizations, ourselves included," he said, pointing to future planning efforts that will include analysis of an extensive audience survey project. "We appreciate the support of all our audiences, especially those who took the time to complete surveys and share their viewpoints. Our music will always have a place, but we will work to make it easily available to the greatest number of audiences." Rilling and pianist/conductor Jeffrey Kahane will be back when the Festival returns June 29-July 15, 2007. The schedule includes the Brahms Requiem, the Missa Solemnis of Beethoven, the majestic oratorio King David by Artur Honegger, and the Theresa Mass by Haydn, the Festival's next recording project. Guest artists will include piano sensations The Five Browns and humorist/composer PDQ Bach.