Bach bounces back from Lintgate?

I received this email last night – cleverly sent out just after Bob Keefer’s EW deadline:

From: Oregon Bach Festival <>
Subject: Announcing OBF 2018
Date: January 17, 2018 at 7:45:05 PM PST

OBF is pleased to announce the 2018 lineup of concerts, community programs, and social events! This summer, you can experience an all-Bach opening concert in Silva Concert Hall, three Bach cantatas, five Brandenburg concertos, an all-Mozart concert, the world premiere of The Passion of Yeshua from Grammy-nominated composer Richard Danielpour, a new piano concerto by Philip Glass, The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass, and so much more. Plus, due to last year’s overwhelming popularity, we will once again present our “Inside the Music” insight brunch — focused on Mendelssohn’s Elijah — and the “Serenade” wine excursion — a celebratory interweaving of regional wines and kindred music featuring Iris Vineyards. We hope you’ll join us for a spectacular 2018.

Premier Tickets On Sale: February 1
Friends of the Festival Exclusive Presale: March 21 – April 27
Public On Sale: May 3

Apparently someone in Strategic Communications has finally learned something about manipulating the press. And sure enough, the RG had a puff piece posted 90 minutes before the email went out, headlined “Oregon Bach Festival announces its 2018 lineup, featuring premieres, classics and renowned musicians“.

More details on the 2018 schedule are here.

It’s unclear if this means the festival has resolved the longstanding financial issues which apparently precipitated the events leading to the firing of Matthew Halls, but a quick glance at the budget suggests that it has not, and that UO’s academic side will continue to fork over $600K or so per year in subsidies to indulge those with a particular preference for the music of Mr. Bach and his ilk:

Cheap in comparison to what we have to pay for Rob Mullens’ Ducks – but then the OBF sells even fewer tickets than Dana Altman.

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5 Responses to Bach bounces back from Lintgate?

  1. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    UOM — I’m having trouble seeing how to get a $600K Bach Festival deficit out of the numbers in the table you provided. Can you help me?

    It would be interesting to see what the actual Bach Festival deficit is, i.e. costs net of ticket sales, gifts, endowment income that are paid out of UO general funds. $600K would be a lot. I can see how UO would want to reduce or eliminate that, much as I enjoy the Bach festival myself, and appreciate what it brings to UO and Oregon.

  2. Bach1685 says:

    I would like to see the Bach Festival go on for years to come. But it seems that will not happen without a substantial reorganization of its budget.

    The festival puts on about 20 concerts in its three-week run. Do these really require 10 year-round staff plus 4 program directors and their own building and concert hall? I’ve read that the yearly budget is over 2 million. If so, the 20 concerts per year cost an astounding $100,000 per concert. These numbers may be off quite a bit, but the ratio between OBF’s overall budget for its number of concerts seems a root cause of its finincial woes. I don’t see it surviving without restructuring the yearly bottom line. All the discussions of OBF’s musical issues are fruitless without facing the overall budget. Maybe others should run the numbers.

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      You raise interesting questions about administrative costs.I hope the advisory board is on top of this. Of course, they have no real power, as we have seen.

      The question of “administrative” costs of course applies to the whole university, but is rarely discussed.

  3. Amy Adams says:

    What a lot of changes to the festival website in the last year. Some are doubtless due to the re-organization under the UOSOMD, but others have me wondering: has a lot of “coming soon!” placeholder text (artist bios, news, reviews, photos, videos) – it appears to be partway through construction. (Surely they will bring back the massive Digital Bach Project, featuring Rilling’s masterclasses and Discovery lectures on Bach.)

    Speaking of…the Discovery Series has abandoned the use of the [re] prefix from its name.

    The calendar mentions the ChamberMusic@Beall series of concerts at the UO School of Music and Dance – this used to be listed as a “co-production” of OBF and the UOSOMD.

    Staff members are listed alphabetically now, and Ms. McCoy’s no longer features a wall of links to her own past projects. Bios for directors emeritus Royce Saltzman and Helmuth Rilling are gone.

    The Board of Directors page no longer says “Board of Directors of the Friends of the Festival” as it always used to. Either the governance has changed, or it was assumed that no one would notice or care.

    For a small board, there’s been a lot of churn in one year: Two are new, eight names are gone. One hopes those former board members still want to support the festival.

    The chorus is no longer the “Berwick Chorus of the Oregon Bach Festival” – it is simply the “OBF Chorus.” There is now a page dedicated to “Chorus and Orchestra” featuring a photo of two unnamed string players, and text about the chorus, but zero mention of the orchestra.

    Along with the largest and glaring change (the absence of artistic director Matthew Halls) – I hope the festival fills these voids on their website with truly inspiring content.

    • Bach1685 says:

      What? The [RE]Discovery Series has been [RE]named?

      The chamber music series is to be run by Brad Foley.

      The website seems under construction. But it’s one ugly piece of web “design. ” Clip art notes floating through the OBF logo…..

      But the concert programming looks really good.

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