Festival sets sales record in ambitious season

  • Jul 18, 2012
[caption id="attachment_9365" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="Helmuth Rilling at the conclusion of the St. Matthew Passion. Photo: Jon Meyers"][/caption] As Helmuth Rilling conducted Bach’s monumental St. Matthew Passion for an unprecedented twelfth time in Eugene on July 15, the Oregon Bach Festival celebrated an achievement of its own: the third straight year—and fourth in the last five—of setting box office records. Opening with two packed concerts in Eugene and Portland featuring violin superstar Joshua Bell, through to the dramatic finale, the 2012 edition of the University of Oregon event (June 29-July 15) surpassed $550,000 in total sales, eclipsing last year’s mark and racking up twelve sellouts. The most ambitious yet with 65 events in seven Oregon cities and ten venues, involving 650 musicians, this year’s Festival attracted nearly 18,000 ticket buyers from more than 37 states, and drew a total audience of more than 33,000 from 20 countries. With the new sales record the Festival has increased its annual ticket sales revenue by more than 25% since 2009. Concluding its 42nd season, the Festival reached several milestones:
  • Its first concert in Eugene’s premier outdoor venue, the Cuthbert Amphitheatre, featuring renowned party orchestra Pink Martini.
  • A high definition video recording of Rilling’s St Matthew Passion lecture concerts, to be streamed online in early 2013
  • A multifaceted exploration of Bach’s Goldberg Variations with sold-out concerts by the Portland Baroque Orchestra and Monica Huggett and virtuoso pianist Angela Hewitt, and the launch of a new Goldberg interactive component on the Festival’s digitalbach.com website
  • An expanded OBF Cinema series that numbered fifteen showings of three different films—two that celebrated the life of enigmatic pianist Glenn Gould, and one presented in partnership with the Eugene’s hosting of the Olympic Track and Field Team Trials.
  • The presentation of its honorary Saltzman Award to longtime donors and Eugene community leaders Don and Willie Tykeson.
[caption id="attachment_9353" align="alignleft" width="97" caption="Matthew Halls conducted "A Child of our Time.""][/caption] British conductor and OBF artistic director designate Matthew Halls was in residence for the full span of the Festival. He led the Portland and Eugene premieres (to rave reviews) of the 1944 choral work A Child of our Time by Michael Tippett, widely recognized as a modern masterpiece though never performed in Oregon. Halls also performed on harpsichord in a Beall Concert Hall Bach recital, met with an instant standing ovation from a sold out crowd. Stemming back to 1973, his first performance of the St Matthew Passion in Eugene, Rilling had conducted the work with such luminary soloists as Arleen Auger, Sylvia McNair, Ingeborg Danz, James Taylor, and Thomas Quasthoff. Vocal soloists for the 2012 lecture-concert series and the fully-staged finale were Hanna-Elisabeth Mueller, soprano; Sophie Harmsen, alto; Nicholas Phan and Dann Coakwell, tenor; and Tyler Duncan and Markus Eiche, bass. In his penultimate season as the founding artistic leader, Rilling was on the podium for nine concerts, including five of the season’s sellouts. “This was a true celebration of Helmuth's legacy,” said John Evans, OBF executive director, “through Bach’s works, of course, but also through his spirit—a great, festive atmosphere nourished by Helmuth’s leadership and the participation of world-class musicians, dedicated donors and volunteers, and our audiences, many of whom travel the globe each year for the OBF experience.” The 2013 OBF takes place June 28-July 14. Marking Maestro Rilling’s 80th birthday and his retirement as the OBF's artistic director, the Festival will be anchored by Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and two Bach masterworks: the St. John Passion and B Minor Mass.