Bach Festival is a record-setter
As Helmuth Rilling conducted Bach’s monumental St. Matthew Passion for an unprecedented 12th time in Eugene on Sunday, 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.
The 2012 edition of the University of Oregon event surpassed $550,000 in total sales, eclipsing last year’s mark and racking up 12 sellouts. The most ambitious yet with 65 events in seven Oregon cities and 10 venues – involving 650 musicians – this year’s festival attracted nearly 18,000 ticket buyers from more than 37 states and 12 foreign countries, and drew a total audience of more than 33,000.
With the new sales record the Festival has increased its annual ticket sales revenue by more than 25 percent since 2009.
Among the festival’s milestones were its first concert in Eugene’s premier outdoor venue, the Cuthbert Amphitheater; the high definition video recording of Rilling’s St. Matthew Passion lecture concerts (to be streamed online in early 2013); and a multifaceted exploration of Bach’s Goldberg Variations with concerts by the Portland Baroque Orchestra and Monica Huggett, OBF artistic director designate Matthew Halls, and virtuoso pianist Angela Hewitt, in addition to the launch of a new Goldberg interactive component on the festival’s digitalbach.com website.
Vocal soloists for the concluding concert were Hanna-Elisabeth Mueller, soprano; Sophie Harmsen, alto; Nicholas Phan and Dann Coakwell, tenor; and Tyler Duncan and Markus Eiche, bass.
Rilling, in his 42nd and penultimate season as the founding artistic leader, 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 Oregon Bach Festival will take place June 28 through July 14. Marking 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.
An index of reviews and photos from the 2012 Festival are online at www.oregonbachfestival.com.