President and General Director
John Evans was born in 1953 in South Wales, United Kingdom, where he studied at the University of Wales, completing his doctoral thesis on Benjamin Britten in 1984. He has lectured extensively on Britten throughout the UK and North America, and his many publications include Benjamin Britten: Pictures from a Life 1913–1976 (Faber & Faber); A Britten Source Book (Britten-Pears Library Publications); contributions to The Britten Companion (Faber & Faber); and opera handbooks on Peter Grimes, Gloriana, The Turn of the Screw and Death in Venice. He is the editor of Journeying Boy: The Diaries of the Young Benjamin Britten, which is available in hardcover and paperback editions through faber.co.uk; and in the United States via Amazon.com.
Evans began his professional career in 1978 as administrator of the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies at Snape Maltings, and for five years (from 1980 to 1984) he was Research Scholar at the Britten-Pears Library & Archive at Aldeburgh. He joined the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1985 as a music producer for BBC Radio 3 (the UK’s nationwide cultural station) becoming senior producer for opera the following year; chief producer of the BBC Singers in 1989; editor of the daytime schedule in 1991; and head of Radio 3 Music in 1993. In 1998, he assumed executive and artistic responsibility for the BBC’s Orchestras and Choirs, and in 2000, he became head of Music Policy and Production for the station.
During his eight years as a producer for Radio 3, Evans specialized largely in the production of live music, but also made two highly acclaimed documentaries on the life and work of the tenor Sir Peter Pears and the legacy of the Russian conductor and commissioner of new music, Serge Koussevitsky. As an executive producer, he was responsible over two decades for many of the network’s landmark projects, including A Britten Evening; A Bernstein Day (live from New York); Live from Tanglewood (a weekend of broadcasting, live from the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra); Danube Week; Barcelona Nights; Dutch Week; A Festival of Britten; and Listen Up! — a month-long broadcast festival celebrating the diverse activities of UK Orchestras. In May 2005, in his last year at the BBC, he directed Radio 3’s UK-wide Leonard Bernstein Season. Dr. Evans’s awards have included the coveted Sony Gold Award for Broadcasting Event of the Year in 1996 for Live from Tanglewood, and a Prix Italia and Royal Philharmonic Society Award as music producer for the BBC film version of Bela Bartok’s opera, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle.
Evans joined the Oregon Bach Festival in the summer of 2007, succeeding cofounder Royce Saltzman. Under his guidance the Festival has broken box office records and has expanded its seasonal and geographic reach with syndicated broadcasts, co-production of a year-long chamber music series, and concerts in Ashland, Bend, and Portland, where it now produces a summer concert series in conjunction with the Eugene-based festival. In June 2011, the OBF launched the Digital Bach Project website, a comprehensive multimedia exploration of Bach’s B Minor Mass underwritten by the Hinkle Charitable Foundation. The site includes more than four hours of high definition video of OBF Artistic Director Helmuth Rilling’s lecture-concert on the mass, for which Evans served as executive producer.
In addition to his work stateside, Evans is vice president of the Welsh Music Guild and a director of The Britten Estate Ltd. He has served on the Juries of the Lisbon and Kondrashin International Conducting Competitions, the Laurence Olivier Awards, the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters Awards, the BBC Singer of the World and Tosti Singing Competitions, and has chaired the juries for the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards, BBC Choir of the Year competition, the Prix Italia and the Vienna Television Awards.
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