Rilling transition targeted for 2013

  • Jun 16, 2011
EUGENE - The Oregon Bach Festival has announced that Helmuth Rilling, its co-founder and artistic director, will transition into the role of Director Emeritus following the 2013 Festival. OBF Executive Director and President John Evans confirmed the 2013 date after meetings with Rilling earlier this spring. Evans said the succession plan and timeline, which began in spring of 2010, were designed to allow for the OBF's 40th anniversary celebrations, to schedule conducting candidates to perform at the Festival over the next three years, and for Festival audiences to experience Rilling's signature works with him during the coming seasons. The process began in 2010 with the formation of a search committee. Evans invited Brad Foley, Dean of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance, to serve as chair, freeing Evans to evaluate and meet with potential candidates and consult with his many contacts in the international music industry. Search committee members also include:
  • Dave Frosaker, current chair of the Board of the Friends of the Festival
  • Mary Miller, current board vice-chair
  • Kyung Gregor, past board president and community leader
  • Andrew Berwick, OBF Saltzman Endowment co-chair
  • Amy Adams and Steve Vacchi, musicians representatives from the chrous and orchestra
  • Michael Anderson, OBF artistic administrator as staff representative
The committee is charged with identifying potential artistic leaders who can carry forth three key traditions set by Rilling that have established the Festival’s unique standing: performance of choral-orchestral masterworks, high caliber education programs for every level, and, as Evans states, a deep understanding of Bach and his context in the greater music world. “We need a great Bach interpreter," Evans said, allowing for repertoire choices that reflect the personal vision of the candidates. “Someone who can explore his or her own view of the Bach legacy down the ages, through today and on to new commissions. But the music of Bach will always be at the heart of the Festival." As possible successors are identified, they are invited to appear as guest conductors in headline concert programs and as lecturer-teachers in the conducting master class and Discovery Series concerts. In 2011, Jeffrey Kahane and Matthew Halls appear as the first of these candidates. Already an acclaimed concert pianist when he made his conducting debut with the Oregon Bach Festival in 1988, Jeffrey Kahane established a solid artistic reputation as leader of the Santa Rosa and Colorado symphonies, and through 15 illustrious years directing the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. He has returned as pianist and conductor at the Festival for more than 20 seasons. This year he’ll conduct the June 23 opening night concert, featuring Bach’s Magnificat and guest artist Yo-Yo Ma performing Osvaldo Golijov’s Azul. Kahane will lead the June 24 Discovery Series lecture-concert of the Magnificat. Matthew Halls served as artistic director of The King's Consort and in 2009 established the Retrospect Ensemble, an innovative early-instrument group. He has conducted an eclectic mix of choral music, juxtaposing composers as diverse as Byrd and Britten, Gesualdo and Schoenberg. He has conducted with such opera companies as the Salzburg Landestheater and Central City Opera Colorado, in repertoire ranging from Handel to Madame Butterfly. He remains active as a harpsichordist, with Bach recitals at venues across the UK and as far afield as Israel, Ottawa, Quebec City, and Moscow. Educated at Oxford University, Halls subsequently taught at the university for five years and continues to teach and work closely with young musicians. At the 2011 OBF he’ll guest at the July 5 Let's Talk, lead that day's Discovery Series lecture-concert and conduct the choir, orchestra, and soloists in works by Purcell, Handel, and Britten for the July 7 program “In Praise of St. Cecilia.” At least one more candidate is booked to appear in 2012, with Nicolas McGegan scheduled to conduct Bach's Mass in B Minor. Through the executive director's office, the Oregon Bach Festival will welcome audience feedback and observations of the guest conductors as the process evolves over the next three Festivals. Rilling’s timetable for transition in Eugene matches that in place at his Bach Academy in Stuttgart, said Evans, who notes that Rilling turns 80 in 2013. Evans also says Rilling will appear in his emeritus role as teacher and conductor. “If we haven’t found the right candidate, or if the right one has commitments beyond our schedule,” Evans said, “the appointment may be delayed a year, with an artistic director designate appearing in a season with Helmuth still at the helm.”