OPR’s Think Out Loud interviews Bach Festival critic Amy Adams

Audio file here. Adams was a fierce supporter of former artistic director Matthew Halls during Lintgate, and the word down at the faculty club is that the festival’s PR flacks are not happy about this free publicity. OBF ticket info here, bio on Ms Adams here.

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19 Responses to OPR’s Think Out Loud interviews Bach Festival critic Amy Adams

  1. Amy Adams says:

    I’m still a fierce supporter of Matthew, and wish we could hitch the Oregon Bach Festival’s wagon to his rising star.
    While the silence from the University and festival left room for insinuation to harm his career and reputation, he’s remained pretty busy.
    Since being fired from OBF by the University of Oregon, Matthew Halls has conducted in New Zealand, Australia, Tasmania, Austria, Canada, USA, UK, Holland, Germany, Iceland, and Poland. Recent and forthcoming US engagements include:
    Cleveland Orchestra
    Philadelphia Orchestra
    Chicago Symphony
    Dallas Symphony
    Pittsburgh Symphony
    St. Louis Symphony
    Indianapolis Symphony
    Houston Symphony
    National Symphony
    Kansas City Symphony

    He’s a conductor to watch. I wish him well.

    • Seasoning Queen says:

      Yet he didn’t have the international recognition the job required, right?

    • honest Uncle Bernie says:

      Amy, time to move on. I liked Matthew too (though I don’t like the rumors I’ve heard — from people as well placed as you — about the treatment of Rilling at the end). Yeah, he’s talented, I don’t understand why he was sacked, UO has acted in its usual flat-footed way, etc. etc. etc.

      But Matthew is not coming back any time soon, UO administration has for whatever reason apparently decided at least for now to keep Janelle McCoy (who may actually be doing a pretty good job lately, hard to tell).

      The question is, do people want the Bach Festival to continue or not? If the former, best to swallow hard, buy tickets and hope for its success — because if it tanks because too many former supporters are unhappy about what happened — it will be bye-bye Bach Festival — unless you know someone who is willing to finance it totally privately.

      • Amy Adams says:

        I’m sure you’re right in many ways, uncle Bernie. As to what it takes to finance OBF – that’s hard to tell, because of the university’s opaque nature on finances.
        I’m guessing that a year-round staff of ten isn’t necessarily required, for example. What ought to be required is transparency and honesty.

        I’m sorry for disturbing you with my incessant drum-beating. :-)

      • Seasoning Queen says:

        With Ms. Mccoy at the helm, it will cease to be the Bach Festival. It will still be something, but not the festival we know and love.

      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        For what it’s worth, I’m not crazy about this year’s program. I am attending stuff that I like, especially looking forward to the Mendelssohn Elijah.

        I don’t much about the Festival’s finances either. I don’t know how much the UO subsidy is. I had thought that John Moseley had ended it altogether, but I guess I was wrong, it is said to be in the hundreds of thousands. I agree that it is odd that UO doesn’t say how much it is. And in what form — just the facilities that UO donates? Or operating money. I haven’t a clue. Or if it is public knowledge, it is kept awfully quiet. If there was enough money to float it entirely privately, I would say great, make it private, in light of what has happened recently.

        As far as I know, the Festival still needs the support, and alas also the control, of UO. I just hope that UO doesn’t ditch it.

        • uomatters says:

          It’s about $600k a year from the academic side, and McCoy is charged with getting it to $0. If only Duck AD Rob Mullens had the same orders.

          This year it appears that an anonymous donor has covered the deficit. The Festival deficit, that is. The Ducks are still extracting about $4M from UO’s academic budget, and about $1.8M from ASUO for “free” student tickets.

          See Kenny Jacoby’s report here: https://www.dailyemerald.com/2017/09/25/uo-students-spend-5-million-year-athletics/

          • honest Uncle Bernie says:

            Do you know if it’s $600k cash or does that include things like free space?

            I completely believe UO would demand to get it to $0, considering the other stuff they have cut around here, like the adjuncts. I think they are counting on not all that many people really caring about the Bach Festival, if it folds, especially with it being so damaged already. I may be wrong, but have seen no sign that either Schill or Janavar cares about the music scene here. Correct me if I am wrong.

            If McCoy is really charged with getting it to $0, good luck to her.

            I wonder if that is why UO admin wants to keep her, she has taken the order to get it to $0, a job nobody else in their right mind would take?

      • C1133 says:

        From what I could see, this year’s Bach Festival was a success. The concerts I went to were excellent and very well attended by enthusiastic crowds. Standing ovations and all that. I’ve also been running into people I know who loved the concerts I missed — e.g. the Rodney Marsalis Big Brass. It would be sickening if the massive UO budget cuts (plus the plaintive cries of Matthew Halls fan Amy Adams), discouraged the donors whose generosity is needed to help keep the festival going.

        • Bourgeoisinger95 says:

          I remember someone saying once, that music holds and safeguards the spirit of cooperation, and that in an ensemble lies the blueprint of civilization and community in the miniature.

          This country is objectively going through a crisis on various levels. Yet, there are those who in insist on ignoring and writing off warning signs as grumblings and “plaintive cries”. That we should grow up and just normalize and support the current leadership. It’s only natural that the same gaslighting could happen here in the miniature.

          It’s all good as long as the waters are calm, and we can tell ourselves everything is fine. amirite?

          Donors who move their money and support elsewhere are savvy enough to see the writing on the wall. If this festival is to live, it needs to divest. Not just from the King Midas of fool’s gold, McCoy, but also the university itself.

        • Seasoning Queen says:

          Ok, a few things.

          In case you haven’t noticed, standing ovations are everywhere these days. They happen at nearly every concert.

          Secondly, donor dollars have been down the entire FY18. There are a number of big-name donors who have dumped the festival.

          Lastly, the “big” things this season were planned more than a year in advance. It was the first non-choral opening concert in years, possibly ever, simply because they could not afford it.

        • Amy Adams says:

          C1133, I’m not surprised that the concerts were excellent: there is a history of terrific artists who gladly come to Eugene every year, though you may not necessarily notice the ones who specifically stayed away.

          “Well-attended” concerts at the 520-seat Beall Hall, or the Hult’s 496-seat Soreng theater, are one thing for the festival – it’s a different matter entirely to fill the Hult Center’s 2448-seat Silva Hall. Most of Eugene’s resident arts companies resort, to various extents, “papering” the house with complimentary tickets to undersold performances, in the name of supporting the performers and fostering an atmosphere of excitement in live music.

          I won’t argue for or against standing ovations as an objective measure of musical excellence. :-)

          In arts nonprofits across the country, ticket revenue provides somewhere around 30% of the organization’s revenue. The rest comes from fundraising, and perhaps endowment income.
          Since the Oregon Bach Festival still operates behind the opaque walls of the University of Oregon, assessment of its health is subject to phrases like “tickets are selling above expectations.”

          What occurs to me, C1133, is that you’re ascribing some power and influence to me that I don’t actually have. If any donor is currently discouraged from giving to the festival, they’re making that decision based on the merits of their OWN reasoning, not by listening to my “plaintive lone voice.”

          All I have is my name, and my conscience.

          If the massive UO budget cuts were going to happen anyway: why did Matthew’s reputation have to be meticulously trashed through silence and unsupported innuendo? Why did McCoy ignore the UO’s consultant Cherie Scricca’s recommendation (update Halls’ contract language, meet face-to-face) and make the decision to terminate Matthew Halls, to the shock and dismay of the festival’s board of directors? Why was his contract renewed through 2020, while at the same time a litany of his “offenses” was being curated behind the scenes (out of earshot of Halls himself, lest he have a chance to hear a complaint.)

          If the university’s current objective is about zeroing out the festival’s budget, sure – the move to eliminate Halls saved a lot of money. So did cutting the conducting masterclass (supposedly on “hiatus” this year). The Discovery Series used to take place over five or six performances, not just two. Slashing programming and the artistic director is not the same thing as encouraging donor money to flow. Now, something that DOES encourage money to flow (mind you, I don’t have much money, so I’m not certain about this) appears to be Relationship, Trust, and Integrity.

          The festival could have done this difficult thing, had the decision been made honestly, with candor and respect to its donors and to Matthew Halls. That does not appear to be OBF’s or the UO’s modus operandi.

        • honest Uncle Bernie says:

          The final concert, the Mendelssohn Elijah, was addressed by Schill. I’m told it was his only appearance of the Festival, I’ve never had the impression he is interested in classical music performance in Eugene, but he did show.

          He said that ticket sales and donations were both up over last year. I’ve heard through the grapevine that UO indeed cut the subsidy to zero this year, and this was made up by an “anonymous” donor. Whether this is true and whether it will continue in the future, I don’t know.

          The Elijah was, to my ears, a very successful performance under guest conductor John Nelson. The orchestra sounded about as good as ever. The soloists were very well received, especially the baritone playing Elijah, and the mezzo-soprano J’nai Bridges, whom I could listen to any day. Almost all seats sold on the main floor, with room in the mezzanine and the balcony closed, par for the course in recent years.

          So, somewhat to my surprise, it looks as if the Bach festival was a success this year, what with the ticket sales, donations, the ending of the UO subsidy as something to be held against it.

          Who deserves the credit, I’m not sure — a lot must go to Brad Foley, outgoing music dean — the donor(s) who made up the deficit — the board members who stayed around — perhaps a lot of credit to Janelle McCoy for the programs she put together.

          Do I regret the loss of Matthew Halls? I do. Is he irreplaceable? I doubt it. Do I think I really know why he got the boot? Nope.

          I hope the Bach Festival goes on. Will it separate from UO? What would that entail? I don’t the answers to those questions. I’m glad that it made it through what looks like a reasonably successful year.

          • Seasoning Queen says:

            Ticket sales were not up. The musicians were given substantially more comp tickets to put butts in the seats.

            Donations are up, if you consider the $600,000 safety net a donation. The thing with major gifts is that they need to be recurring. All JM has done to save money is cut things. AD gone. Conducting Class gone. Vocal Fellows program gone. Internationally renowned players replaced. Choir time reduced to two weeks and numbers cut and supplemented heavily by college and high school students.

            You know who had a say in those soloists? Matthew Halls. They are booked over a year in advance.

            I would be blissfully overjoyed if the festival survived and thrived despite the dumpster fire of an ED. As long as she is around, it will continue to circle the drain.

            • honest Uncle Bernie says:

              I’m just telling you what Schill said. I will await precise figures in the Eugene Weekly and/or Register Guard. My sources in the Festival, who are in a prettygood position to know, were surprisingly (to me) positive about this year’s goings on, financially and artistically. I believe the looks on their faces, and the words from their mouths, more than I believe anything else I’ve heard, including web posts from unknown sources.

              The $600K gift to end the subsidy (assuming the accuracy of the figure and the policy) a donation? You bet! Will it be recurring? Don’t ask me, ask the donor(s). Or, a $15M boost to the endowment would do the trick.

              You still think JM is a dumpster fire? Okay, maybe you’re right, maybe not. I am quite sure that not everybody in this who counts is thrilled with her. I still think OBF is stuck with her until UO decides otherwise, unless the donors come up with enough dough to issue an ultimatum. $15M would do the trick, I think.

              Re-reading what I wrote in the post above in the thread, I wouldn’t change it much. OBF did better this year than I expected, I dare say better than most people expected. I am happy about that.

  2. UO Community says:

    In other news, new renderings of Hayward Field have been released.

    The north side entrance of the stadium is now at street level. While I think this is a good idea (as I think the passersby should be able to see track), I think this updated design needs a lot of work.

    Seriously though, Phil Knight and Co are not getting their monies worth.


  3. UofOGrad says:

    The Oregon Tower? A landmark?
    The butt of jokes for decades to come.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Pre’s PP!

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