OBF08: Major Stars and Rich Bounty of Bach

  • Feb 18, 2008
[caption id="attachment_2948" align="alignright" width="170" caption="Sarah Chang"][/caption]While the Olympic hopefuls at next summer's Eugene 08 track and field trials will be striving for excellence, the 2008 Oregon Bach Festival will be raising a few bars of its own. The University of Oregon event plans a gala tribute to a music-loving track icon, virtuoso performances, a concert in Portland, and a canon of Bach masterpieces for its 39th year, June 27-July 13. Guest artists set to appear in the 17-day run are humorist-author Garrison Keillor; violin virtuoso Sarah Chang and conductor Nicholas McGegan (San Francisco-based Baroque specialist) performing Vivaldi's Four Seasons; a Festival residency (and nod to the 2008 Beijing Olympics) with the Shanghai String Quartet; and an encore by piano wunderkinds The 5 Browns. Artistic Director Helmuth Rilling returns to conduct Bach's St Matthew and St John Passions, the Magnificat, and two performances of the B Minor Mass, the first of which opens the 2008 Festival June 27 in Portland's Schnitzer Concert Hall. The Portland opening is the first step in a broader initiative by John Evans, the new executive director who accepted the baton passed on by co-founder Royce Saltzman earlier this summer. It's a natural move, Evans said, an initiative timed to coincide with the University of Oregon's Portland expansion with the aim of broadening the Festival's audience-base. "This is not just a one-time event," Evans said, during the Festival's season-launch news conference October 17. "I see this as a long-term investment, with the Festival reaching out to a broader state-wide audience year on year, while presenting leading Portland-based artists and ensembles here in years to come." Back in Eugene, the Festival is an integral cultural component of the 2008 Olympic Trials, which runs concurrently with the first ten days of the OBF. On July 1, the Festival honors Bill Bowerman, the Nike founder and key Festival patron, with a gala tribute featuring Helmuth Rilling and the OBF Chorus and Orchestra, the Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy, a screening of the OPB film-documentary tribute to this iconic figure, spoken tributes by UO and Nike officials, and the Eugene premiere of Man of Oregon - a symphonic biography commissioned from composer Rebecca Oswald. "The OBF/Nike collaboration will extend beyond the concert hall into the Festival's new marketing materials and brand image," Evans said. A Nike creative team developed the Festival's 2008 poster design and a new logo and branding campaign for the Festival. Other new initiatives under Evans's direction include the formation of a flexible Festival chamber music ensemble that would appear in various configurations to support the residency of the Shanghai Quartet over four concerts. The last of these events is a Schubertiade - the re-creation of a Vienna salon on the Soreng Theater stage. Two concerts - a recital by the husband and wife piano duo of Robert Levin and Ya Fei Chuang and a tango evening with Pablo Ziegler on the final Saturday of the Festival - are scheduled for the main stage of the Shedd Institute, the OBF's first performances at this busy and popular Eugene venue. In all, Evans foresees a heightened experience for both returning and new audiences. "With such a rich and diverse repertoire on offer," he noted, "it will be a time to honor the past and celebrate the future." See the latest 2008 Festival schedule and ticket order information.