Tribute: Royce Saltzman, Advocate for the Arts
- Feb 12, 2009
Royce Saltzman, 2009 Advocate for the Arts AwardIntroduction by Roger Saydack How do you introduce a man who has accomplished so much? I could describe the many honors and awards Royce has received, such as:
- The Order of the Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany;
- The University of Oregon Distinguished Service Award;
- Eugene’s First Citizen Award; and
- The Presidency of the International Federation for Choral Music.
Artistic InnovationRoyce created a culture of artistic innovation at the Festival that produced an impressive number of commissions and premieres of some of the most important choral/orchestral works of the last 40 years. This is innovation that is every bit as valuable, as difficult and as challenging as the research and development work of the University. Here are a few examples of these achievements:
- Krzytof Penderecki, “Credo,” which resulted in a Grammy award for the Festival
- Arvo Paart, “Litany”
- Osvaldo Golijov, “Oceana”
- The renowned bass/baritone, Thomas Quastoff;
- Christine Schaeffer, the great soprano;
- And Michael Schade, the fine tenor.
Always give the audience a great experience.Each year Royce assembled a group of exceptional musicians for the Festival. Musicians who are not only fine players; they are great communicators who present the music with honesty and humility. And the concerts were often fabulous artistic experiences. This sent a clear message to all of the arts in Eugene: our stages are the big leagues; our audiences and musicians expect the real thing. And Eugene’s performing groups have responded in kind. The exceptional quality of our Symphony is due in part to the high standards that Royce and Rilling set with the Bach Festival. There are so many other examples:
Arts educationRoyce’s background as an educator, with the support of the University, made education a central component of the Festival’s mission. Think of the hundreds of young conductors who came to Eugene from more than 30 countries to participate in Rilling’s master classes. The thousands of young singers who have participated in the Youth Choral Academy. And the tens of thousands of audience members who attended the many educational activities of the Festival; the highlight of which for me was always the Discovery series, those wonderful lecture demonstrations that explore the choral music of Bach. What the Festival accomplishes in arts education in a few short weeks each summer is nothing short of amazing.
Helmuth RillingI have to mention just one more accomplishment of Royce’s that we sometimes overlook. One more bar that he raised ever so high for the rest of us. We at the Symphony rightly take pride in the conductors we’ve brought to Eugene. But let’s not forget, it was Royce who discovered Helmuth Rilling for us. Rilling was a not so very well-known German Kapellmeister when Royce saw his great gifts and brought him to Eugene in 1969. Today Rilling is internationally recognized as one of the world’s great choral conductors, with hundreds of recordings to his credit. Rilling’s artistic integrity, his scholarship, and his skills as a teacher and communicator have fit Eugene to a T. But Eugene would have never heard of Rilling, and Rilling would have never heard of us, if it wasn’t for Royce Saltzman. Add to all of this Royce’s distinguished service as a music educator at the University of Oregon and as an advocate for choral music world-wide. We can only thank our lucky stars that Royce made his career in Eugene. So Royce, on behalf of the Eugene Symphony Association, and with our gratitude for your remarkable contributions to the growth and advancement of the arts in Eugene, we are proud to present to you the Advocate for the Arts Award for the year 2009.
Roger Saydack is a music lover who has supported the arts in Eugene for more than 30 years. He was the 2008 receipient of the Eugene Symphony's Advocate for the Arts Award.