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"Themes and Variations" Encompass World Premiere, Worldwide Reach

  • May 10, 2009
[caption id="attachment_2842" align="alignright" width="220" caption="Frederica von Stade returns to the OBF July 2 on the eve of her farewell tour."][/caption]EUGENE—Weaving together the musical threads of tradition, diversity, and artistic vision that have been constants in its first four decades, the Oregon Bach Festival’s “Themes and Variations” for 2009 include a major world premiere; guest artists from the Met, Broadway, and the traditions of Tokaido Road; and new partnerships ranging from a 4th of July fireworks program to worldwide broadcasts. The Oregon Bach Festival takes place June 23-July 12, 2009 in Eugene, Bend and Portland, Oregon. Tickets are now on sale. “There’s a whole world of musical experiences on offer,” said John Evans, OBF president and executive director. “We’ll honor the past while we step ahead into an enterprising and exhilarating future.”

OBF 09: Themes and Variations

40th Festival and Major Anniversaries 2009 marks the OBF’s 40th season and significant anniversaries of great composers: Henry Purcell, G.F Handel, Franz Joseph Haydn, and Felix Mendelssohn. The honors begin on opening night with The Creation, Haydn’s vivid setting of the genesis story. Helmuth Rilling, the founding artistic director, returns to conduct the chorus, orchestra, and soloists on Friday, June 26 in Eugene and the next night, June 27, in Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The Festival marks the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death with the world premiere commission of a new Messiah by prolific Swedish composer Sven-David Sandström. Recipient of premieres by the Swedish Radio Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw, BBC Symphony, and Rilling’s Stuttgart Bach academy (Magnificat-2005), Sandström is resetting Handel’s Messiah text for chorus and orchestra for a joint commission by the OBF and the International Bach Academy. “He is a man who understands very well the language, the spirit of Handel’s music,” Rilling said. “I’m sure he will write something very exciting to this text.” Sandström’s Messiah premiere on July 9 in Eugene’s Hult Center is one of a three-part Messiah celebration that also includes a community “InChoir” sing-along July 1 and full-concert version of Handel’s original in the Festival finale July 12. Guest Artists In homage to Festivals past, opera prima donna Frederica von Stade (at the start of her 2009-2010 farewell tour) tops the list of guest stars. The former Met diva appeared at the 1989 and 1991 Festivals; in 2009 she headlines a July 2 gala concert conducted by Jeffrey Kahane. Tony Award-winning dancer-choreographer Savion Glover taps to Bach, Vivaldi, Mozart and more in “Classical Savion,” his acclaimed touring show with live orchestra and jazz band Friday, July 10. Baroque specialists Bach's Circle perform twice, beginning the festivities June 23 in Bend. Artist Residencies Jeffrey Kahane, in addition to the von Stade gala, also appears in three chamber music programs and conducts a portion of a free July 4th fireworks show that includes Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Violinist Monica Huggett and her Portland Baroque Orchestra fill the other resident artist role with the full cycle of Bach’s six Brandenburg Concertos in Portland and Eugene June 29-30 and the Purcell tribute July 3 in Eugene’s Beall Concert Hall. Sandstrom will be in residence for the Messiah premiere and Composers Symposium program. Shakespeare and Music The OBF explores Shakespeare’s influence in the music world through a theatrical staging of Felix Mendelssohn’s incidental music for A Midsummer Night’s Dream July 5. Actors from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival narrate, and the Eugene Ballet interpret through dance. Portland Baroque recognizes the Bard’s touch July 2 with a performance of music from The Fairy Queen, Henry Purcell’s operatic adaptation of the Midsummer story. The Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy sings settings of Shakespeare texts by jazzman George Shearing and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music in their July 7 headline concert. Kahane’s July 2 orchestral concert includes the ballet suite from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. The Spirit of the Dance The recurring theme Spirit of the Dance surfaces in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet; and “Classical Savion.” Glover hoofs one step further with a children’s program Thursday, July 9. New Partnerships and Artistic Developments · OBF joins forces with Eugene’s Art and the Vineyard and Active 20-30 Club to create a free 4th of July Family Fireworks concert, this year featuring Jeffery Kahane and the Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy. · The OBF embraces the visual arts for the first time, collaborating with two University of Oregon museums. To coincide with the June 24 opening of the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art’s exhibit “The Tokaido Road,” the OBF presents On Ensemble, an LA-based percussion quartet deeply rooted in the traditions of taiko. · The OBF is also a collaborator with the Museum of Natural and Cultural History’s 2009 exhibit “World Harmony—Traditional Musical Instruments from Around the World.” · Extending a reach that began in 2008, the Festival will perform twice in Portland and a pre-season presentation of Bach’s Circle, a Baroque ensemble, in Bend’s Tower Theater June 23. · The OBF has reached a broadcast agreement with Minnesota Public Radio to syndicate a series of 2008 concerts over the next 12 months. The series is expected to get network distribution across the US and reach 400 million listeners worldwide.