OBF and artistic director appointment postponed to 2021

Orchestra performance

The Oregon Bach Festival has been postponed until summer 2021, along with the selection of a new artistic director.

The decision was made to protect the health and safety of patrons, musicians and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Sabrina Madison-Cannon, the Phyllis and Andrew Berwick Dean at the UO School of Music and Dance.

“I know that this is disappointing news,” Madison-Cannon said. “We were all looking forward to coming together this summer to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Oregon Bach Festival and experience the unique voice and vision from the talented finalists for our artistic director position. However, the protection of our community is our most important priority.”

Internationally renowned conductors Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Eric Jacobsen and Julian Wachner, who had been named as finalists for the artistic director position earlier this year, all told a representative of the search committee they each have a strong interest in continuing as candidates and returning as guest conductors in 2021.

“Our conversations with them just confirmed the high caliber of our candidates as musicians, leaders and exemplary individuals,” Madison-Cannon said. “We are thrilled that they’ll be joining us next year, and we’ll all get the opportunity to hear their interpretations of Bach’s choral-orchestral masterworks, as well as a special chamber orchestra program to showcase their distinctive, personal style.”

Patrons will still get the chance to enjoy the rich musical legacy of the Oregon Bach Festival this summer, but it will be from the comfort of their own homes instead of a concert hall, Madison-Cannon said.

“One initiative we’re particularly excited to share is a series of ‘Oregon Bach Festival Radio’ shows that will be broadcast on KWAX-FM Classical Oregon and livestreamed at KWAX.com, with hosts Peter van de Graaff and Rocky Lamanna,” she said. “Every episode will feature a hand-picked selection of the most memorable performances from the festival’s last half-century of award-winning music, with a new broadcast for you to listen to every weekday during the dates when the festival would have been held.”

Madison-Cannon said she had been inspired during the COVID-19 crisis by two thoughts: Challenging times don’t last forever, and the spirit of Bach’s incomparable music endures.

“We will all get the opportunity to celebrate the Oregon Bach Festival’s 50th anniversary, and Royce and Helmuth’s legacy together, it just won’t be when we were expecting to,” Madison-Cannon said. “In the meantime, I hope that you and your family stay well, and that you’ll find comfort with me in the thought that sometimes the best things in life are worth waiting for.”

By Steve Fyffe, School of Music and Dance