Oregon Bach Festival names Matthew Halls to replace Helmuth Rilling in 2013

Oregon Bach Festival names Matthew Halls to replace Helmuth Rilling in 2013

Published: Wednesday, August 24, 2011, 2:02 PM     Updated: Wednesday, August 24, 2011, 2:41 PM
By David Stabler, The Oregonian 
halls1.JPGSteven Nehl/The OregonianMatthew Halls takes over as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival in 2013.
Matthew Halls, 35, a bright British conductor who comes out of the early music movement, will replace founder Helmuth Rilling as artistic director at the Oregon Bach Festival at the end of the 2013 season.
Rilling, who led the 17-day festival since its founding in 1970, will remain with the University of Oregon event as director emeritus.

For 41 years, the German-born Rilling has been the heart and soul of the festival. His deep knowledge of classical music’s great choral works, and his majestic, measured performances, have shaped nearly two generations of audiences, both in live concert and on hundreds of recordings. He will remain with the University of Oregon event as director emeritus.

Halls reflects significant change, not least in a shift toward early music performance practice, which Rilling resisted. Halls is a harpsichordist as well as a conductor with expertise in Baroque music, especially that of Bach. In 2005, he led the Portland Baroque Orchestra’s performances of Handel’s “Messiah. But his breadth as a conductor in other music also helped win him the job.

In a statement, John Evans, the festival’s 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, 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.”

Said Halls in a statement, “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. I am looking forward to working closely with John Evans to help preserve everything that makes this festival so special, whilst 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.”

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