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1978: Everyone's a critic

  • May 24, 2010
Leading up the start of the 40th Anniversary of the Oregon Bach Festival, we are taking a brief look at each year of the festival over the course of the next 40 days (41, to be precise). But we could not do it without a little help. On the occasion of the Oregon Bach Festival silver anniversary, Marian C. Donnelly compiled a history of the first 25 years. For the next couple of weeks, we will be graciously pulling excerpts from her work, The Oregon Bach Festival 1970-1994.
Under promise, over deliver. A nice saying from a business guru. But not for the Festival. To say the least, the 1978 season was "ambitious." Bach's St. Matthew Passion in Eugene and Portland. Mendelssohn's Die erste Walpurgisnacht and Midsummer's Night Dream at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Services at Central Lutheran Church. And performances by American-born soprano Arleen Augér. Any chance of over promising and under delivering? Not according to New York Magazine music critic Alan Rich:
"…in his review of the Festival, he wrote of the St. Matthew Passion, 'The work was given, uncut, in German, and with a marvelous projection of the dramatic sense that underlies this awesome score.' Of Arleen Augér he said, 'Her singing of the 'Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben' rankd among the sovereign vocal experiences of my brief lifetime."
Even though the Festival in 1978 over promised and over delivered with an ambitious program, Helmuth Rilling described it in more intimate terms:
"The best of that Festival is it atmosphere…personal, uncomplicated, unproblematic, friendly."
True for the Festival. Rare for critics. [Alan Rich passed away April 23, 2010. Here is his obituary in the New York Times.] Tomorrow: 1979 - B.Y.O.B. You can purchase your tickets to the 2010 Oregon Bach Festival here. And for a more extensive history of the Festival, you can find it here. Read All