Oregon Bach Festival celebrates voice in its 2022 season

After a two-year hiatus from live performance, the Oregon Bach Festival returns to Eugene stages this summer under the theme “A Celebration of Voice.”

The upcoming season, which runs June 17 through July 5, continues the longstanding tradition of presenting choral-orchestral works, new music, lectures and community events. The festival will be held in Eugene, with events at the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, historic Beall Concert Hall on the University of Oregon campus, and local churches.

The season, built around ambitious performances and milestone events, honors the festival’s award-winning choruses and its tradition of presenting high-quality vocal performances.

At the center of this year’s celebration is the final phase of the festival’s search for its next artistic director. The three finalists for the position — Julian Wachner, Eric Jacobsen and Miguel Harth-Bedoya —each will conduct a major Bach work and an intimate chamber concert.

Three candidates for OBF artistic director Wachner will helm the Mass in B Minor on June 21, with Jacobsen leading the “St. John Passion” on June 28, and Harth-Bedoya closing the season on July 5 with the “St. Matthew Passion.” It will be the first time in more than 35 years that all three works are performed in their entirety during a single Bach festival season.

In addition to the major Bach works, the Festival Chorus will honor the past, present and future of its vocal legacy in a choral event June 25. The program highlights the voices of the Grammy-winning Oregon Bach Festival chorus, the University of Oregon Chamber Choir, and some of the best high school choral singers in the nation, participants in the festival’s Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy.

Audience members can expect brief residencies from three industry-leading musicians during the 2022 festival.

Simone Dinnerstein returns June 19 with her Grammy-nominated performance of “An American Mosaic.” The piece from Richard Danielpour, commissioned by the festival in 2020, commemorates segments of the American population that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including those who have lost their lives to the virus.

Dinnerstein will join forces with pianist-activist Lara Downes for a celebration of trailblazing American artists called “Variations on a Dream,” performed June 22. The concert includes the world premiere of the Oregon Bach Festival commission, “Let Me See the Sun,” from Paola Prestini.

Dinnerstein goes on to collaborate on a Bach, Beethoven and Glass concert with cellist Matt Haimovitz on June 23. Haimovitz also is featured during the second week of the festival in an event designed to reframe Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.”

Three festival favorites also are returning. Grammy-winning organist Paul Jacobs offers audiences a recital of Handel oratorios, violinist Monica Huggett leads Bach’s “Musical Offering,” and baritone Tyler Duncan performs Schubert’s “Winterreise.”

Finally, the festival welcomes the Viano String Quartet. Praised for its “huge range of dynamics, massive sound and spontaneity,” Viano is the first-prize winner of the 2019 Banff International String Quartet Competition and the current Nina von Maltzahn String Quartet-in-Residence at the Curtis Institute of Music. The quartet will be joined by clarinetist David Shifrin.

The festival schedule rounds out with performances from the elite Berwick Academy for Historically Informed Performance, the Organ Institute, and the Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy.

Additional artists and events will be announced in the coming weeks. Exclusive presale tickets are available beginning Feb. 23, and tickets go on sale to the general public in early May. More information can be found at the Oregon Bach Festival website.