Oregon Bach Festival names new artistic director

Matthew Halls to assume artistic leadership after the 2013 season.

Matthew Halls(Photo by Jon Meyers)

The Oregon Bach Festival announced on Wednesday, Aug. 24, the appointment of 35-year-old British conductor and keyboardist Matthew Halls as its next artistic director.
Halls, who has made significant conducting debuts with the Houston Symphony, Bach Collegium Stuttgart, Berlin Radio Symphony, and Frankfurt Radio Symphony, as well as founding and leading the pioneering Retrospect Ensemble, will assume artistic leadership of the University of Oregon event after the 2013 season.
Helmuth Rilling, OBF founding artistic director, will continue in 2014 as director emeritus.

Speaking for the search committee, John Evans, OBF president and executive director, said that Halls was the ideal candidate at the right time.
“In Matthew, we found a candidate who has it all,” said Evans, “a range of repertoire well-matched to the programming needs of the Festival; an international reputation in the worlds of choral and early music, specializing in historically-informed performances; consummate skill as a Bach interpreter; a commitment to teaching and education; and most of all, a figure who is passionate about the music at the heart of the OBF, and charismatic in communicating that passion.”
"I'm absolutely thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to continue and develop my relationship with the Oregon Bach Festival,” said Halls.
“It is a very great honor for me to accept the position of Artistic Director at the festival upon the retirement of Helmuth Rilling—a colossal musical figure for whom I have the deepest admiration,” he continued. “I am looking forward to working closely with John Evans to help preserve everything that makes this festival so special, while exploring and developing new ideas that will allow the Festival's musical and educational programs to continue to grow. Above all, I look forward to summer months in Oregon filled with music-making of the highest level as we all make our annual pilgrimage to the Pacific Northwest to celebrate and honor the musical legacy of the great Johann Sebastian Bach."
Halls will conduct programs in the 2012 and 2013 Oregon Bach Festival as artistic director designate. His 2012 repertoire will be announced at the OBF’s season preview in the last week of October. Rilling will conduct concerts and Discovery Series lectures for the next two seasons.

“I have seen Matthew Halls working and conducting in Stuttgart and Eugene,” said Rilling. “He is an unusually gifted musician with a solid professional grounding and exceptional charisma. I'm sure he will preserve the heritage of our Festival, and will also find new ways to enrich the lives of many people with our music.”

Founded at the University of Oregon in 1970, the Grammy Award-winning festival produces an annual summer series of choral-orchestral works, chamber music, talks, lectures, family events, and educational programs in early summer in Eugene, Portland and other cities. Its 2012 dates are June 29-July 15.

For more information, including photos and links to Matthew Halls’s full biography and recordings, please visit oregonbachfestival.com.