Amy Adams calls for Bach Festival transparency in Eugene Weekly op-ed

10/19/2017: Amy Adams calls for Bach Festival transparency in Eugene Weekly op-ed. The gist is that the secrecy is about protecting the administrators, and that they are willing to damage the festival to do that.  Read it all, this is just a snippet:

Berwick Hall, the new home of the Oregon Bach Festival, is an elegant building — small, modern, light-filled, with a performance hall that can seat up to 140, perfect for small-ensemble performances such as were given at the public reception on Oct. 8 celebrating the building’s opening. Windows abound — from virtually every desk in the office, light floods the space. That, sadly, is the only transparent thing about the festival these days.

The few scraps of information given to the public lead to more confusion than clarity: The festival renews artistic director Matthew Halls’ contract through 2020 and then abruptly fires him, issues an unconvincing press release and then claims that the relationship has “drawn to a close.” Both the university and Halls agree to not “disparage” the other party. Yet in that silence, both parties are discredited as the public struggles to guess at what has been concealed. That is how silence works — people fill it with whatever comes to mind.

… Confidentiality is not a virtue, it’s just a tool that ensures information stays with authorized people. And it can, like any tool, be misused. Because of confidentiality, the festival’s stakeholders are prevented from knowing if there was wrongdoing or ineptness or both. They are unable to prevent whatever happened from happening again, because they don’t have any relevant information. All that’s known is that the University of Oregon, in clinging to its self-imposed secrecy, may well be protecting someone’s interests, perhaps even its own. And it is doing so at the expense of the Oregon Bach Festival. …

10/17/2017: UO cuts Bach Festival Exec Director Janelle McCoy out of leadership role

But of course we’ll keep paying her and SVPAA Doug Blandy, and Johnson Hall will avoid having to do any honest soul-searching about why they keep making mistakes like this. I wonder what the next one is going be?

Bob Keefer has the latest in the Eugene Weekly:

A statement released this afternoon by dean of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance confirms the names of the seven-person committee that is to direct the planning of the 2018 Oregon Bach Festival. Eugene Weekly reported the names based on a source on Oct. 9.

The statement also sets the date for the 2018 festival and confirms that some previously planned events, such as premieres of works by Richard Danielpour and Phillip Glass, will move forward.

Perhaps notably, it doesn’t mention the “guest curator” plan proposed by executive director Janelle McCoy in the immediate aftermath of the still-unexplained Aug. 24 firing of artistic director Matthew Halls. McCoy is not mentioned in today’s statement and has been virtually invisible in recent weeks.

Here is the full text of Dean Brad Foley’s statement:

Dear Friends of Oregon Bach Festival:

Following the grand opening of Berwick Hall earlier this month, all of us at Oregon Bach Festival are looking ahead to next season.

… To that end, I have assembled (and will chair) a highly-qualified artistic committeefrom the staff, faculty, and board to assist with planning for the 2018 Festival:

• Royce Saltzman, Director Emeritus and OBF Board member

• Michael Anderson, OBF Director of Artistic Administration

• Josh Gren, OBF Director of Marketing and Communications

• Steve Vacchi, Professor of Bassoon, OBF Orchestra member, and OBF Board member

• Sharon Paul, Professor of Choral Activities, Director of the UO Chamber Choir (an OBF ensemble)

• Peter Van de Graaff, KWAX Music Director, Program Director of the Beethoven Satellite Network, bass-baritone soloist

Brad Foley
Dean, University of Oregon School of Music & Dance

Quite a change from the lies in the Around the O post of Aug 27:

“We look forward to a wider range of programmatic choices, community events, and cross-departmental relationships with UO faculty, staff, and students – from the UNESCO Crossings Institute, the Department of Equity and Inclusion, and the UO museums, to traditional academic units such as the School of Music and Dance, food studies, classics, humanities, history, and planning, public policy and management. These partnerships,” says McCoy, “might include lectures, public seminars, classes, publications, interactive programming, and so on.”

Meanwhile the UO Public Records Office is still sitting on a number of records requests that might shed more light on Doug Blandy and Janelle McCoy’s roles in this fiasco – one now more than 5 weeks old:

10/10/2017 Documents Keefer, Bob Requesting/Reviewing Records
10/10/2017 Title IX Complaints Winn, Abigail Requesting/Reviewing Records
10/10/2017 Contract Hille, Jackson Records Provided
10/09/2017 Nike Royalty Payments Schmidt, Brad Requesting/Reviewing Records
10/09/2017 Contract Wolf, Lyle Records Provided
10/09/2017 Subpoenas Iboshi, Kyle No Responsive Records
10/09/2017 Subpoenas Jacoby, Kenny No Responsive Records
10/09/2017 Subpoenas Schmidt, Brad No Responsive Records
10/06/2017 Subpoenas Fenno, Nathan No Responsive Records
10/05/2017 Contract Allerton, Robert Records Provided
10/05/2017 Contract Krakow, Morgan Records Provided
10/04/2017 Contracts Huntsman, John Records Provided
10/04/2017 Salary Data Miraglia, John Requesting/Reviewing Records
10/03/2017 Contracts and compensation Schmidt, Brad Requesting/Reviewing Records
10/02/2017 Personnel Gartrell, Garth Records Provided
10/02/2017 Outstanding vendor checks Minotti, Anthony Records Provided
09/28/2017 Correspondence Pitcher, Jack Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/28/2017 RFP Swyers, Angie Request Withdrawn
09/28/2017 Payments Renzetti, Jackie Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/27/2017 Correspondence Melchior, Jillian Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/27/2017 Correspondence Fenno, Nathan Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/25/2017 Contract Smith, Dan Records Provided
09/25/2017 Purchase orders Pilsbury, Matthew Awaiting Payment
09/21/2017 Expenditures Harbaugh, Bill Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/21/2017 RFP Wikoff, Heather Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/21/2017 Correspondence Volker, WIlliam Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/20/2017 RFPs, scoresheets, interview materials Kennedy, Phil Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/20/2017 Contract Daugherty, Connor Records Provided
09/20/2017 Complaints Keefer, Bob Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/18/2017 Contracts Jacoby, Kenny

Records Provided

09/15/2017 Notices Keefer, Bob No Responsive Records
09/15/2017 Contract Frerotte, Susan Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/14/2017 Correspondence Harbaugh, Bill Awaiting Payment
09/14/2017 Contract and correspondence Keefer, Bob Records Provided
09/14/2017 Expenditures McQuay, Brian Records Provided
09/14/2017 Correspondence Butler, Jack Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/13/2017 Financial Records Harbaugh, Bill Records Provided
09/13/2017 Salary Data Sawyer, Brandon Records Provided
09/13/2017 Contract Pitcher, Jack No Responsive Records
09/13/2017 RFPs, scoresheet Garner, Katie Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/13/2017 Correspondence Moore, Jack Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/13/2017 Correspondence Meek, Austin Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/13/2017 Contract Sawyer, Brandon Records Provided
09/12/2017 Proposals Stevens, Kristen Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/12/2017 Contract Galluzzo, Morgan Records Provided
09/12/2017 Directory Information Weiss, Jordan Awaiting Payment
09/11/2017 RFPs, contract McNeeley, Mathew Requesting/Reviewing Records
09/11/2017 Communications Hubbard, Saul Requesting/Reviewing Record

9/27/2017: School of Music and Dance takes over Bach Festival & $600K annual loss

Seems like a good move to me, and the press release is more plausible than past efforts. Presumably the subsidy will be gradually phased out. In any case it’s smaller than that for every Duck team except football and men’s basketball. I do wonder what will happen to Executive Director Janelle McCoy, and of course what the public records will eventually reveal, and if the central players will really be able to keep themselves from making any more disparaging revelations about each other.


An anonymous correspondent notes that by reporting Matthew Halls’ grits joke to Doug Blandy, Janelle McCoy gained certain legal protections from retaliation by UO, which might make it difficult for them to fire her.

Saul Hubbard has more in the RG here:

The UO agreed to pay Halls a $90,000 settlement two weeks ago, following his abrupt termination in August. That firing, just two months after the UO signed Halls to a new four-year contract and gave him a large raise. has still not been fully explained.

But the settlement agreement contains a mutual nondisparagement clause. “The university and festival leaders do not intend to revisit Halls’ separation,” the UO said in a written statement Wednesday.

Bob Keefer, who broke the story, has more in the EW here.

Absent from much of the public discussion on Wednesday was OBF executive director Janelle McCoy, who is believed to have recommended Halls’ firing. She was not quoted in the release. Foley said she will work under his direction to administer the 2018 festival.

The SOMD’s press release:

From: Music School Dean <>
Sent: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 3:37 PM
Subject: Press Release: Management of OBF moves to UO School of Music and Dance
Cc: Music School Dean <>

TO: School of Music and Dance Faculty and Staff

Press Release

Management of the Oregon Bach Festival moves to UO School of Music and Dance

Demonstrating its commitment to the long-term success of the Oregon Bach Festival, the University of Oregon is moving festival management under the university’s School of Music and Dance to produce the 2018 festival, bolster administrative support and create stronger ties to the university’s academic mission.

“The University of Oregon is dedicated to ensuring that the Oregon Bach Festival continues to be an artistic treasure for the university, the region and beyond for many years to come,” said Jayanth Banavar, provost and senior vice president. “The president, members of the Friends of the Oregon Bach Festival board and I believe that moving the festival to the UO’s outstanding School of Music and Dance will strengthen and reinforce the OBF’s creative leadership, administrative infrastructure and academic alignment.”

The festival began in 1970 as a program of the school of music. It later became a semi-independent university affiliate that flourished under the leadership of co-founders Royce Saltzman, who joined the music faculty at the UO in 1964 and served as associate dean of the school of music for 12 years, and Helmuth Rilling.

Staged over three weeks in early summer, the Oregon Bach Festival is celebrated by audiences and critics for its mix of choral-orchestral masterworks, chamber music, family events, scholarly programs, and talks and lectures. Centered on the music of J.S. Bach, it also explores the generations of composers before and since with connections to his influence.

“Members of the Friends of the Oregon Bach Festival board are very supportive of this move,” said Brad Stangeland, president of the festival board. “We view it as an important step to examine festival operations and ensure a bright and sustainable future. Collectively, the board is impressed by the commitment of university leadership to perpetuate the artistry that we—as audiences, musicians and donors—have long cherished.”

Under the revised structure, the festival’s executive director will report to the dean of the School of Music and Dance, Brad Foley.

Following the departure of conductor Matthew Halls a few weeks ago, Foley will immediately seek input on artistic direction from the festival’s staff, board representatives, music school faculty, and community members. The university and festival leaders do not intend to revisit Halls’ separation.

“I will immediately conduct a thorough analysis of how the UO can enhance and strengthen the OBF’s operations,” said Foley, who is a member of the festival’s board and has served on the board of the Eugene Symphony Orchestra. “The OBF team is extremely dedicated to the festival’s legacy. We want to take advantage of their expertise during this time of transition.”

Though the festival has a strong network of supporters and patrons, Foley noted that the festival and others like it face significant headwinds as a result of demographic changes among classical music consumers and evolving audience tastes and expectations.

“By combining the Oregon Bach Festival with the School of Music and Dance, we see opportunities to involve even more students, faculty members and guest artists in the festival’s activities,” he said. “We’ll explore the potential for new collaborations that will strengthen the OBF’s educational activities, including the conducting master class, organ institute, vocal fellows and historic performance programs.”

Foley said he will work closely with festival staff, the board, music school faculty, outside musicians and conductors, donors, and audiences to ensure that the festival continues to deliver on its mission of celebrating the music, legacy and spirit of J.S. Bach for many years to come.


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6 Responses to Amy Adams calls for Bach Festival transparency in Eugene Weekly op-ed

  1. mindless husk says:

    A good move, I think. Brad Foley is a man of integrity, from what I can tell, and a gentleman. The new publicity seems to have so much less bullshit.

    A fairly good idea of what really happened is at hand, I think.

    I have to wonder how the bigwigs let themselves get ensnared.

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    • Seasoning Queen says:

      Is it, though? Will this result in the musicians coming from the UO students and faculty and no longer the professional level of quality to which we are accustomed?

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      • mindless husk says:

        You raise a very good point.

        I think it’s good in that it at least stabilizes OBF, when it seemed to me that the whole operation might be in danger of collapse.

        But the question of who the musicians will be is an important one. OBF had gotten used to quite a high level of musicianship, with people coming nationally and, at least under Rilling, internationally, to play and sing. Whether this will be diluted or not, I don’t know. That certainly seems like a possibility.

        On the other hand, Foley claims he wants to “enhance and strengthen” the Festival. Surely this does not mean degrading the quality of musical personnel. Foley is well aware of the distinction.

        Personally, I thought that with the expanded educational activities of OBF, some of the performances were already being degraded to sub-professional level.

        It seems to me that some of this must have to do with OBF finances. Not doing so well under Halls. I think this probably was part of the pretext for getting rid of him. It’s a good question what Foley will be able to do about ticket sales. If things don’t pick up, hard to maintain the level of the musicianship.

        Again, the most important thing about this move is that perhaps UO has stopped the disastrous mismanagement and PR, giving OBF a chance to get back on its feet. The advisory board, as evidenced by Brad Stangeland, seems to be going along. That alone is worth literally a fortune, because I can’t imagine that the backers could have maintained any confidence the way things had been going.

        We’ll see how it all plays out.

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        • Amy Adams says:

          Whether the finances were on a downward trend or not (seems to be the conventional wisdom that they were, but there sure has been a lot of marketing, development and other administrative staff turnover in the last three or four years) – it’s worth remembering that the university had Just Renewed Matthew Halls’ contract through 2020.
          To suddenly have a change of heart “hang on, these numbers are TERRIBLE!” makes as little sense as the the non-racist racism story, otherwise known as GritsGate.

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          • mindless husk says:

            Ticket sales were disappointing this summer, and they fired him AFTER that. There was a new provost. Maybe it was a combination of several things. Weave your own tale, because nobody on the outside, myself certainly included, really knows. The “thinker” makes a pretty good story in a post above.

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            • Amy Adams says:

              So true. Nobody knows what happened, except the people busily redacting.

              A classic UofO situation: scandal, stonewall, shrug. “Time ta move on, people, because confidentiality…”

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