After a two-year hiatus, the Oregon Bach Festival returns to in-person performances throughout Eugene. Voices are front-and-center in a schedule jam packed with choral works, solo performances, and appearances from five different choruses.
The internationally renowned, Grammy winning festival continues its long-standing tradition of presenting the finest choral-orchestral works, extraordinary new music, illuminating lectures, and captivating community events.
Grammy winners, titans in their respective fields, and perennial favorites will offer familiar repertoire, as well as some new works.
“One of the world's leading music festivals.”
The Oregon Bach Festival is seeking a new artistic director to take the helm, and audiences can experience the search. Each of the three current finalists will conduct a major Bach work and an intimate chamber concert. The trio of “big Bach” auditions mark a historic milestone for the festival.
US conductor Kazem Abdullah, music and artistic director of the city of Aachen, Germany from 2012 to 2017, will conduct Mass in B Minor on June 21. Conductor and cellist Eric Jacobsen, music director of the Virginia Symphony, will lead the St. John Passion on June 28. The season will close on July 5 with the St. Matthew Passion led by Miguel Harth-Bedoya, director of orchestral studies at Baylor University.
Big Bach Trifecta
For the first time in more than 35 years, the festival will feature three of Bach’s most iconic sacred choral-orchestral pieces—the grand “Big Bach” productions the festival is known for—in their entirety.
Universally considered Bach’s crowning achievement, the Mass in B Minor is the summation of a lifetime of work. It took decades to complete and remains a testimony to Bach’s faith and artistic virtuosity.
Nearly 300 years after its first performance on Good Friday in Leipzig, the St. John Passion remains one of the most popular and widely staged masterworks. The St. Matthew Passion, considered by many to be the single greatest masterpiece of western sacred music, is complex and profoundly moving.
An American Mosaic
In the darkest moments of 2020, the festival commissioned Grammy-winning composer Richard Danielpour to create a musical response to the burgeoning pandemic. The piece, performed by Simone Dinnerstein, had its virtual world premiere in December of 2020 and commemorates segments of the American population affected by COVID-19.
The subsequent recording led to three million iTunes downloads and a Grammy nomination. Now, the “expressive and thrilling” (The Philadelphia Inquirer) Dinnerstein performs the piece on Sunday, June 19, live for Eugene audiences, along with three Bach transcriptions.
Legacy of Excellence
In 1970, German organist and conductor Helmuth Rilling came to the UO for a series of workshops and an informal concert. Since then, the festival—through the efforts of Rilling, cofounder Royce Saltzman, and a cadre of volunteers, musicians, patrons, and donors—has become one of the foremost celebrations of Bach’s music and legacy in the US.
- 2001 Grammy award for Best Choral Performance
- Featuring internationally regarded artists such as Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, Bobby McFerrin, The 5 Browns, and Pink Martini
- Members of the chorus and orchestra come from professional organizations throughout the US, Canada, and Europe, returning year after year
- Helps keep classical music current and relevant through new commissions, such as the 2009 world première of Sven-David Sandström’s Messiah and Richard Danielpour’s An American Mosaic in 2020
- Educational opportunities for youth, as well as master classes in conducting and performance