OBF 08 Opens in Portland

  • Oct 16, 2007
The first concert played in the 2008 Oregon Bach Festival will also be the first opening night in its 39-year history performed outside of Eugene. On Wednesday, executive director John Evans announced that the University of Oregon's Grammy-winning program will open in Portland on June 27, partly in step with the university's expanded offerings there. Artistic director Helmuth Rilling will take the podium of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall to lead Bach's Mass in B Minor, a signature masterwork of the composer and the internationally heralded festival. The Bach concert is the first step in a broader initiative by Evans, who accepted the baton passed by co-founder Royce Saltzman after the 2007 festival. It's a natural move, Evans said, both to broaden its audience-base and coincide with the opening of the UO's new downtown Portland center. "This is not just a one-time event," Evans said, during the Festival's season-launch news conference Oct. 17. "I see this as a long-term investment, with the festival reaching out to a broader state-wide audience year by year, while presenting leading Portland-based artists and ensembles here in years to come." The UO journalism, law, and architecture and allied arts programs have a strong presence in Portland and will soon move into the renovated White Stag Block in downtown. Academic programs and the library will begin setting up operations in the complex in early 2008. A grand opening for the entire White Stag Block is slated to coincide with the start of the 2008-2009 academic year. With close to 90,000 square feet of available space, the new Portland facility will unite all of the university's Portland-based academic programs in one place with the exception of the Oregon Executive MBA program, which will remain at 200 Southwest Market St., ste. L101. June 27 is also the first night of the U.S. Olympic Trials in Track and Field in Eugene, which runs concurrently with the festival's first 10 days and is expected to fill up nearly all of the region's hotel rooms. "Opening in Eugene against the first night of the Olympic Trials did present a challenge," Evans said. "But this alternative is too good to pass up. It creates the potential for reaching a much larger audience, while enabling us to perform the B Minor for the hometown crowd the next night." The Oregon Bach Festival is fully integrated into the schedule of Eugene 08 cultural events and will pay tribute to a local legend. "Bowerman: Man of Oregon," will be a July 1 gala tribute to the extraordinary coach, waffle-iron-wielding Nike co-founder, and generous donor to the Festival in the 1980s and 90s. The Oregon Bach Festival has performed around the state and country -- notably at the Hollywood Bowl in 1985 -- but has not appeared in Portland since 1980, following four straight years of performing at Keller Auditorium. Among the guest artists appearing during the Eugene run June 27-July 13 are Garrison Keillor, violin virtuoso Sarah Chang, and a return engagement by piano-playing siblings The 5 Browns. Tickets for the Portland concert and other shows go on sale Jan. 21.