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Festival Goes Outside the Bachs

  • Apr 2, 2007
The creativity of great composers, versatility of musical forces, and virtuosity of stellar artists are trademark elements of every Oregon Bach Festival. But in 2007, they're given a slightly different spin as the Festival goes "Outside the Bachs" to explore unexpected musical treasures beyond the pen of J.S.Bach. Tickets are now on sale for the University of Oregon's flagship cultural event, which takes place June 29-July 15 in Eugene. The festivities open with the sweeping majesty of Brahms's A German Requiem June 29, a masterwork deeply understood and always movingly conducted by Helmuth Rilling. Rilling serves the second course in his three-year recording project of the 18th century giant Joseph Haydn July 8 with the Theresa Mass, never before performed at the Festival. Arthur Honegger's King David dramatically tells the Old Testament hero's story in scenes including the slaying of Goliath, an exalted Dance Before the Ark, and turbulent days ruling Israel. Kirk Boyd of Willamette Repertory Theatre will theatrically stage this "symphonic psalm" with costumes, lighting and an expanded spoken narrative in an exciting Fest premiere July 12. Robin Engelen, Helmuth Rilling's protege from Stuttgart, conducts. Beethoven said the aim of his Missa Solemnis was to "permanently instill religious feelings not only into the singers but also into the listeners." Rilling brings that dramatic power and immensity to the concert hall as the Festival finale July 15. The Festival's glittering lineup of guest artists includes violinist Midori, one of the world's leading violinists, who made her soloist debut with the NY Philharmonic at age 11 and continues to enthrall audiences worldwide . Her Festival debut takes place July 3 in an all-Mendelssohn orchestra concert conducted by Jeffrey Kahane. The last (and least) of Bach's musical progeny, PDQ Bach, shares the stage with his alter ego Professor Peter Schickele in "The Jekyll and Hyde Tour" June 30. Trio Voronezh returns July 10 in the second of two Fest@First concerts at the new First Baptist Church. This year's show pairs the inimitable Russians and their folk instruments (domra, bajan, and bass balalaika) with orchestra, in works by Bach, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Gershwin and others, conducted by Philip Brunelle of Minneapolis. It will take all of the Silva Hall stage to accommodate five pianos. But it may not be large enough to hold the enormous talent of The 5 Browns, Julliard-trained, piano-playing siblings whose most recent CD has topped with classical charts for more than 20 straight weeks. Their July 13 concert is their first - and for now, only - concert in Oregon. Intimate Evenings in Beall Hall and Soreng Theatre include the French repertoire of the flute-harp-viola ensemble Trio Verlaine July 2; piano recitals July 5 with Kahane and July 11 with Bernd Glemser (prize winner in 17 international competitions); a night of jazz-flavored improvisations on Bach with pianist Robin Engelen's trio July 7; and chamber music with Triad, featuring Eugene-born clarinet virtuoso Carey Bell July 14. While in this year's festival he may be mostly present in spirit, J.S. Bach and his music still gets its due in Silva Hall performances of his double concerto and violin concerto July 1, with the motet Singet dem Herrn July 8, in Kimberly Marshall's organ recital July 9, and in four of the festival's six Discovery Series lecture concerts. In a new education program, anyone can experience the sound and power of the Festival Chorus up-close and in person. It's called InChoir, an innovative program developed by the Minnesota Chorale. Participants sing side-by-side with members of the Chorus at a working rehearsal of the Brahms Requiem conducted by Kathy Romey, then observe as Helmuth Rilling conducts a rehearsal. A $10 fee covers materials. Other education programs include the Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy, a training program for high school singers, celebrating its 10th anniversary with a gala concert July 6; an "Art & Spirituality" exploration June 27-July 2 jointly offered by the Festival and the UO's Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art; the annual Hinkle Distinguished Lecture with renowned theologian and author Martin Marty July 2; a UO summer school class studying "German Cultural History" through attendance of key concerts; and the Composers Symposium July 6-9, with artists in residence Lisa Moore and Martin Bresnick in three concerts and a late-night "Wild Nights" cafe featuring music by symposium participants. Festival tickets range from $5 for Saturday morning children's concerts to $52 for prime seats in Eugene's Silva Concert Hall. Full information and ticket ordering is available at www.oregonbachfestival.com or call (800) 457-1486.