Saltzman's scoop for Elderhostelers

  • Jul 17, 2006
By Paul Omundson Each year the Festival is a regular stop for Elderhostel members who are classical music fans. They stay in the dorms on the University of Oregon campus during the duration of the Festival and have numerous opportunities to intimately drink in the flavor and taste of the two-week series of events. One of this year's highlights was a July 13 chat with Festival Executive Director Royce Saltzman. They met with Royce on stage at the Soreng Theatre at the Hult Center, sitting where the orchestra and chorus usually play during afternoon lecture-concerts. The executive director gave them a number of Festival insights and perspectives and tipped them off on major plans ahead in coming years. After their chat and Q&A session with Royce the group moved over to the Silva Theatre and enjoyed a rehearsal for the next day's Haydn Creation Mass. An "Olympic" Festival in 2008? During his talk with Elderhostel attendees, Royce tipped them off to special efforts being made for the 2008 Festival. It's an Olympic year with the U.S. Track and Field Trials to be held in Eugene at exactly the same time as the Festival, and the Summer Olympics slated for Bejing. So the Festival is looking to bring a major choral group from China to join in a collaborative performance with the regular Festival Chorus and also showcase its own work. "We're excited about the possibilities," Royce said. Barriers of Crossing Music Borders There are always huge challenges with Homeland Security these days, Royce told Festival Elderhostel members, to host international artists and performers. He cited major issues last year in getting visas for a Venezuelan choral group, which required 11th-hour intervention from an Oregon congressman to get them into the U.S. He added that even Helmuth Rilling has to go through an extensive drill each year "that takes a lot of time to provide the same information they already have on file." "Helmuth's friends in Germany have advised him to simply not travel to the U.S. because of the Homeland Security hassles. But there's no keeping Helmuth away," Royce said. The key reason why Helmuth keeps coming back -- for 37 consecutive years to date? "He can make music here at the highest level with the least amount of problems," Royce explained. "Helmuth has inspired the Festival musicians to reach further and further into themselves to constantly improve the quality of music. And over the years the atmosphere has evolved to the point where we are a big happy family. Visa problems aside, the musicians can't wait each year to get back and be part of our Festival family." For information on enrolling in the Festival's Elderhostel program, see the University of Oregon's Elderhostel web page. Paul Omundson is a freelance writer based in Eugene.