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Bach's music fires OBF's Power and Passion

  • Mar 18, 2012
[caption id="attachment_6219" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Helmuth Rilling. Photo: Michael Latz"][/caption] Tickets are now on sale for the 42nd Oregon Bach Festival, June 29-July 15, 2012 in Eugene, Portland, and five other cities. Conductor Helmuth Rilling, superstar violinist Joshua Bell, keyboardist Angela Hewitt, the Portland Baroque Orchestra, and harpsichordist/conductor Matthew Halls explore Bach’s spellbinding Goldberg Variations and his monumental St. Matthew Passion within the theme “The Power and the Passion.” Guest artists include pop orchestra Pink Martini, the Joe Powers Tango Quintet, and piano-playing siblings The 5 Browns. Bach’s towering Passion influences the Festival throughout. In his next-to-final season as artistic director, Rilling will conduct the work as the grand finale in Eugene, and fully explore its structure in four lecture-concerts. Rilling also conducts Joshua Bell and Mendelssohn in the opening concerts June 29-30 in Eugene and Portland, a sold-out night of Bach motets and concerti July 11, and guest-conducts the 15th anniversary concert of the Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy July 8. The St. Matthew lecture concerts will be filmed in high definition as the next major work on the OBF’s innovative digitalbach.com website, produced in association with the Hinkle Charitable Foundation. [caption id="attachment_6730" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Joshua Bell performs in Eugene and Portland June 29-30"][/caption] Opening weekend performances to be conducted by Rilling June 29 in Eugene and June 30 in Portland will spotlight masterworks by Mendelssohn, the composer who spurred Bach interest with his revival of the St. Matthew Passion in 1829. The program will include the rousing choral spectacle Die Erste Walpurgisnacht, the Italian Symphony, and the composer’s most celebrated contribution to orchestral music, the E Minor Violin Concerto, with Joshua Bell as soloist. Widely hailed as one of the music world's great performers, and the newly named Music Director of The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Bell will take Mendelssohn one daring step further by performing his own cadenza—the work’s climactic extended solo. More than two hundred years after the St. Matthew Passion, British composer Michael Tippett translated its structure and emotional impact into the modern classic A Child of Our Time. Moved by events preceding the Nazi Kristallnacht attacks, Tippett focused his work on the story of a young man's attempt to seek justice. Tippett integrated American spirituals in place of the Passion’s chorales, creating a musical work with a universall appeal and deeply dramatic effect. British conductor Matthew Halls, who succeeds Rilling as the Festival’s artistic director after the 2013 season, will conduct A Child of our Time July 6-7 in Portland Eugene. Halls will open the concert with Bach’s celebratory G major Lutheran Mass. An acclaimed keyboardist as a soloist and with his own London-based Retrospect Ensemble, Halls will also perform as soloist July 9 in an all-Bach chamber concert. Bach’s Goldberg Variations is the other thread to weave through the fabric of the 2012 Festival, in a year that marks major birth and death anniversaries of Glenn Gould, the enigmatic genius closely associated with the work:
  • Portland Baroque Orchestra tours a string orchestra arrangement of the variations to Astoria, Lincoln City, Corvallis, and Eugene.
  • The acclaimed pianist Hewitt performs the set on piano July 14 in Beall Hall (sold out).
  • OBF Cinema will present two prize-winning films about Gould in Eugene’s Bijou Art Cinema, both running daily July 7-13 at 4 pm.
  • The Variations will be the topic of the July 14 Hinkle Distinguished Seminar, with Halls, Hewitt and musicologist Tim Smith.
  • Halls’s recording on harpsichord of Bach’s Goldberg Variations is now the audio track for the second interactive component added to the Digital Bach website.
John Evans, OBF executive director, characterized the Festival as one that illuminates the power of connections. “With Helmuth conducting the St. Matthew, and Matthew Halls both performing and conducting Bach, audiences will experience the strong present and bright future of the Festival,” he said. “But foremost is the opportunity to see and hear the many ways—through concerts, film, lectures, talks, and digital media—that Bach’s music permeates and enriches our cultural life.” Beyond Bach, the festive side of the 2012 OBF schedule includes:
  • [caption id="attachment_6220" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Thomas Lauderdale and Storm Large of Pink Martini. Photo: James Chiang"][/caption] Pink Martini with vocalist Storm Large at the outdoor Cuthbert Amphitheatre Sunday, July 1 following the conclusion of Eugene’s Olympic Track and Field Trials.
  • Pianist Ya-Fei Chuang in a recital of music by Liszt, Debussy, and Earl Wild.
  • Bach's enthralling organ work the Clavier-Ubung III in Eugene and Portland performed by John Scott in Eugene and Portland july 6-9. Scott serves as music director at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue, New York and was  previously music director at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
  • A salon-style soiree of music by Debussy, celebrating the 150th anniversary of his birth.
  • The passion and intrigue of "Tango Harmonica" in Portland, Bend, Eugene, and Ashland featuring the Joe Powers Tango Quintet.
  • A full schedule of educational and community events including free concerts, lectures, and panel talks.