… and then they came for the bassoonists …

Update: More Bach news in the EW from Bob Keefer, who has uncovered a 2016 firing of a Matthew Halls ally by Director Janelle McCoy, here:

… In an Aug. 11, 2016, email to Doug Blandy, then the UO’s senior vice provost for academic affairs, McCoy wrote: “I believe I mentioned that Matthew and I had met before I canceled her contract. He now maintains that I misled him in that discussion and this is a personality difference between me and Linda.” The subject line of the email was “Warning — Matthew may be calling.”

Since the Halls firing in August, McCoy has referred most media questions to Tobin Klinger, the university’s senior spokesman. When EW asked them both for comment on the Ackerman case, Klinger replied, “We wouldn’t be able to comment on personnel matters.” …

Really Klinger? And yet you comment on personnel matters all the time. Not to mention student matters. And reporters. And Senators. You just don’t comment on them competently:

11/21/2017: The British press had a spot of fun mocking Americans’ obsession with political correctness over the Oregon Bach Festival’s decision to fire british conductor Matthew Halls for a joke about grits. Here’s the Spectator from September:

… The conversation involved Mobley complaining that a performance he had recently given in England had a certain ‘antebellum’ feel to it. Halls apparently apologised on behalf of England and added, in a humorous deep South accent: ‘Do you want some grits?’ The stupid woman heard this and later asked Mobley if he felt he had been the victim of a racist slight. The astonished singer replied, of course not, it was harmless joke between friends. I am not sure what level on the official SJW Cretin Scale you would need to be to find such a comment racist. Fairly high up, I think. Anyway, learning of his friend’s peremptory sacking, Mobley was furious, insisting that Halls had been victimised. Mobley was not invited to give his views of the matter to the university, by the way. But Oregon University [sic] still refuses to say why Halls was sacked, on one occasion suggesting that his removal may or may not have been connected to this ludicrous allegation of racism, and on a later occasion (anonymously) saying it was nothing to do with it. …

But it turns out the British are not immune from PC fever. Here’s The Telegraph:

Royal Academy of Music sacks lecturer over student guide that referred to string players as ‘pond life’ and violinists as ‘gypos’

Dr Francesca Carpos was dismissed last week from her post with the prestigious Royal Academy of Music after her note on how to earn a “good reputation” backfired spectacularly.

The note emailed to 800 students last week contained a glossary of terms that included a reference to violinists as “gypos”, a derogatory term for gypsies. It also advised students to “be discreet” and that “what’s on tour stays on tour”.

Dr Carpos, 58, a professional bassoon player, has been left shell-shocked by her sacking and, according to friends, is considering suing the Royal Academy of Music, whose patron is the Queen and whose president is the Duchess of Gloucester and vice president is Sir Elton John, a former pupil.

Doug Blandy fired Bach Fest director Halls despite AAEO Director’s advice

11/14/2017:

Saul Hubbard has the latest in the RG here:

… The document does, however, show a split between the university’s Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity and McCoy over how to reprimand Halls, an independent contractor who had just been given a multi-year extension and a raise.

After two initial complaints in July, Cherie Scricca, an outside consultant working for the UO, recommended that school officials meet with Halls to discuss the school’s non-discrimination policies and that they update his contract to include “written expectations of proper behavior including equal and fair treatment of festival participants regardless of race, national origin, age, disability.”

Scricca also suggested that written notice be added to Halls contract that, if he did not meet those expectations, his contract could be immediately terminated, and that the festival would hire an “understudy” artistic director who could replace him.

But that meeting with Halls and those proposed contract amendments appear to have never occurred.

After two further complaints came in, including the sexual harassment allegation, McCoy made the decision to terminate Halls, emailing Scricca to tell her as much on August 16. Scricca disagreed with that decision, suggesting a “similar” course of action to her previous recommendations when she spoke with McCoy on August 23.

The next day, however, Halls was fired, with a UO administrator, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Doug Blandy, signing his termination letter. …

Blandy was told over the summer that he was being replaced as SVPAA, but was kept on at at full pay and with his JH office until, I believe, the end of December.

update: Back to Bach: EW’s Bob Keefer gets the docs on Matthew Halls firing

Keefer has now updated this story with a quote from feckless UO strategic communicator Tobin Klinger, who has had almost three months to prepare his talking points for the release of these public records, and could only come up with this:

The document does “not indicate that the reported incidents are the *why* behind the change in Halls’ status,” UO chief sokesman[sic] Tobin Klinger emailed. “You’re assuming a causal relationship that is speculation. As has been said before, we can’t discuss specifics of a personnel matter, …

Sure you can’t. Here’s the Around the O post from Aug 27, discussing specifics of a personnel matter:

Oregon Bach Festival (OBF) is moving forward in an exciting direction that will bring new voices, points of views and artists with more diverse backgrounds to festival audiences. Starting in summer 2018, guest curators will work with OBF staff to build a season of dynamic and engaging musical selections led by world-renowned conductors.

As part of the transition, OBF is parting ways with artistic director Matthew Halls. Halls leaves the festival with a legacy that includes the establishment of the Organ Institute, the Vocal Fellows program, and the Berwick Academy for Historically Informed Performance. During his tenure, Halls conducted many of Bach’s masterworks, including his own reconstruction of the composer’s lost St. Mark Passion, as well the world premiere of A European Requiem from Sir James MacMillan.

The transition is a strategic decision, made by OBF administrative leadership and the University of Oregon, and will keep the festival relevant in the ever-changing classical music industry.

“There’s an emerging trend,” explains OBF executive director Janelle McCoy, “to plan a season from the perspective of a guest curator from a different field or genre and then invite conductors to participate, rather than programming from a single artistic voice. …

Of course this was all lies, and I guess in Klinger’s world that made it OK for UO to discuss it.

11/14/2017: UO’s Public Records Office has finally begun releasing the public records, and the Eugene Weekly’s Bob Keefer has a teaser on what they show, and don’t show, about OBF artistic director Janelle McCoy’s stated reasons for firing artistic director Matthew Halls:

… The newly obtained document lays out two main complaints against Halls, an internationally known conductor who had been selected to replace OBF’s founding artistic director, Helmuth Rilling, on his retirement in 2013.

The first has been widely reported, that Halls was overheard making a racially insensitive remark to countertenor Reginald Mobley at a post-concert reception last summer. Both Mobley and Halls, who are friends, have strongly denied there was anything but good humor in the exchange.

The second is a July 12 complaint made by an unnamed OBF musician that Halls did not pay women musicians as much attention as he did men in rehearsals. “Our artistic director Matthew Halls does not call on them during rehearsals and favors the men,” the complainant said.

The heavily redacted complaint went on to say that Halls had made “inappropriate remarks,” though it doesn’t say what. The complainant also alleges that she heard similar complaints from other women and at least one man. …

McCoy is apparently still on the UO payroll, but her authority as executive director has been taken away and the Bach festival is now being run by Brad Foley, Dean of the School of Music and Dance.

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:

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Ojai Music Festival calls on Eugene Mayor to help OBF secede from UO

9/22/2017: Bob Keefer has the latest in the EW here:

Thomas W. Morris, artistic director of the Ojai Music Festival in California, has urged Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis to help the beleaguered Oregon Bach Festival secede from the University of Oregon and become an independent non-profit organization.

In a letter emailed today (Sept. 22), Morris wrote that the sudden and unexplained firing of OBF artistic director Matthew Halls on Aug. 24 harms not only the Oregon Bach Festival but hurts the image of Eugene itself. …

Uh, thanks for trying to help Mr. Morris, but the City of Eugene couldn’t even manage to keep the Jacobs Art Gallery open, or run the Mayor’s Art Show.

Also see this RG letter from longtime UO supporter Tom Bowerman:

I agree with the bulk of written commentary about the University of Oregon’s dismal explanation of Matthew Halls’ dismissal. My position began to solidify on reading UO’s written explanation, which seemingly explained nothing.

There is a pattern here and it has consequences, especially regarding some of the fiscal and reputational costs to the university. My thought in reading the UO’s explanation was: How much does the public relations team get paid for type of work? And the settlement costs?

Couldn’t these costs, across the broader pattern, in the millions, be better spent on education quality? …

And the UO PRO has now updated the PR log with some recent requests from journalists for more Bach docs.

9/18/2017: Did OBF’s Janelle McCoy run a harassment investigation on Matthew Halls?

If so it would probably be a violation of UO policy (see below), which requires that those receiving “credible information” of racial harassment report it to AAEO, which then decides on the investigation, etc. And yet the most likely interpretation of this new NYT report regarding the grits joke and the implications for the Bach Festival of the subsequent firing of Halls is that Ms McCoy decided to investigate Mr. Halls herself:

Mr. Mobley said he had thought no more of it until several days later, when he got an email from Ms. McCoy asking about the conversation, which had apparently been overheard and reported. “These insensitivities should not be tolerated,” she wrote in the email, which was obtained by The New York Times.

Mr. Mobley replied to her that while the broad outlines of the story were true — Mr. Halls had indeed spoken in a drawl — it was “not quite put together correctly.” He noted that he and Mr. Halls often teased one another.

“Trust me,” he added, “it’s been a couple patrons and audience members who’ve unknowingly said pretty insensitive things. Not Matt.”

The story was picked up by British media outlets. But Tobin Klinger, a spokesman for the university, said that the conversation with Mr. Mobley had not been a factor in Mr. Halls’s firing. And a lawyer for Mr. Halls, Charese Rohny, said that Mr. Halls “was never presented with anything that required a response” regarding any inquiry before he was fired.

Given Klinger’s truthiness record, his statements get a weight of 0.00, and reporters are making public records requests to try and find out what really happened. UO has not been listing these requests on the official log – a new low in official UO transparency, and one which perpetuates the selective leaks, official innuendo, and unofficial rumors which have characterized this mess.

The last OBF request was Bob Keefer’s, for the Halls contract and termination letter:

The relevant policy is here. Some excerpts (emphasis added):

III. Responsible Employees Reporting Obligations

Except as provided for in the Student Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Violence Complaint Response (Student Complaint Response Policy), Responsible Employees who receive Credible Evidence of Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment or Sexual Harassment involving an Employee, Student or Campus Community Member are required to promptly report that information as follows:

1. If the Credible Evidence relates to Sex Discrimination of a Student, Responsible Employees should report any information received to the Title IX Coordinator or to the Office of Crisis Intervention and Sexual Violence Support Services. (Note: The Student Complaint Response Policy applies to information disclosed by a student reporting sex discrimination and sexual harassment, including sexual violence. That policy may provide for different reporting obligations depending on the status of the employee receiving the report. Employees who receive reports of sex discrimination (including sexual harassment and sexual violence) against a student should reference the Student Complaint and Response Policy in order to determine their reporting obligations.)

2. In all other instances, Responsible Employees should report any information received to the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity (AAEO).

Employees should be aware that AAEO is tasked with ensuring compliance with this policy and state and federal law.  Therefore, while AAEO will work with employees, students and campus community members to ensure that they understand their complaint options, are protected from retaliation and are provided with interim measures as appropriate, AAEO employees are not advocates for individuals participating in the process.

The relevant definitions in the policy are:

A. Prohibited Discrimination is defined as any act that either in form or operation, and whether intended or unintended, unreasonably discriminates among individuals on the basis of age, race, color, ancestry, national or ethnic origin, religion, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or the use of leave protected by state or federal law. “Unintentional discrimination” is a concept applicable only to situations where a policy, requirement, or regularized practice, although neutral on its face, can be shown to have disparately impacted members of a protected class. The concept is inapplicable to sexual or other forms of harassment which, by definition, result from volitional actions.

B. Discriminatory Harassment is defined as any conduct that either in form or operation unreasonably discriminates among individuals on the basis of age, race, color, ancestry, national or ethnic origin, religion, service in the uniformed services (as defined in state and federal law), veteran status, sex, sexual orientation, marital or family status, pregnancy, pregnancy-related conditions, physical or mental disability, gender, perceived gender, gender identity, genetic information or the use of leave protected by state or federal law and that is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it interferes with work or participation in any university program or activity, including academic activities because it creates an intimidating, hostile, or degrading working or university environment for the individual who is the subject of such conduct, and where the conduct would have such an effect on a reasonable person who is similarly situated.

H. Credible Evidence: Credible Evidence is evidence of the kind that prudent people would rely on in making personal or business decisions, which is not obtained: (1) during public awareness events (For example, “Take Back the Night,” and “survivor speak outs”);  (2) as part of an Institutional Review Board-approved human subjects research protocol focused on Prohibited Discrimination; or (3) in the context of a required classroom assignment. (Note: If a faculty member believes that a classroom assignment may illicit a disclosure that would trigger obligations under this policy, the faculty member should make clear to students that an account provided in response to a classroom assignment, without more information, will not result in the university taking any action in response to the disclosure. This means that the university will not investigate the incident, offer interim measures or otherwise take step to remediate the behavior.)

K. Campus Community Member: Campus Community Member means a person participating in a university-sponsored program or activity, attending or wanting to attend an event on university owned or leased property, an independent contractor or vendor, a volunteer, a person applying for admissions, a person applying for employment, or a campus visitor or a person living on university-owned property. The term Campus Community Member excludes Employees and Students.

9/15/2017: RG calls for UO Trustee Ann Curry to investigate Matthew Halls firing

“Bach Debacle”, here:

…  UO President Michael Schill could appease both groups of stakeholders by appointing a handful of university regents — perhaps headed by television journalist Ann Curry — to investigate. That, after all, is their job — to “supervise, coordinate, manage and regulate the UO,” a public university that, at least in this matter, is operating in a very private mode.

If, as the UO asserts, Halls’ firing had nothing to with the remark that he made to Mobley, the investigation can confirm as much. That would go a long way in restoring people’s lost faith in the UO.

Conversely, if it turns out Halls was fired because of the remark, the investigation would give the university the opportunity to come clean, hold accountable those who spun a different story and take the appropriate action to start anew with OBF.

Finally, if Halls — a private contractor, not a UO employee — was fired for crossing some ethical line, the investigation would bring that to light, too. …

And if the latter should be true, they could explain why whatever it is that Halls did was so bad he had to be fired immediately, but not so bad that UO could agree to keep it secret from his other current and potential employers.

9/13/2017: UO to pay Matthew Halls $90K for non-disparagement & gag-rule

The agreement is here. The RG’s Saul Hubbard has much more on this deal here.

It includes a promise by UO to give Halls 24 hours notice of public records requests. I’ve heard rumors of a request to UO for emails etc that might shed light on why whatever it was that Halls did was so bad he had to be fired immediately, but not so bad that UO had an obligation to warn his other employers and potential employers.

But so far there’s nothing in the Public Records Office log except the RG’s request for the contract and termination letter, which Hubbard posted earlier. So until new light has been shed on this, we’re stuck with the hypothesis that he was fired for disparaging comments about southern cuisine.

9/13/2017: UO to pay Matthew Halls $90K for non-disparagement agreement and 24-hour gag rule:

That’s from tweets from NY Times classical music and dance reporter Michael Cooper:

9/12/2017: Bach Festival’s fate passes from Blandy and the PR flacks to the lawyers

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Mezzo-soprano Janelle McCoy takes over Bach Fest from John Evans

Bob Keefer had the scoop on the sudden disappearance of Oregon Bach Festival Executive Director John Evans last November, on his Eugene Art Talk blog, here:

In a wide-ranging interview last week, Evans said he gave notice on Oct. 4 to the UO’s acting senior vice president and provost, Frances Bronet, that he would be leaving the festival’s top administrative job, which he has held for seven years. His exact title was general director and president of OBF.

Shortly after that, Evans’ name quietly disappeared from the festival’s website, which began to list OBF artistic administration director Michael Anderson, also a clarinetist with Eugene Symphony, as interim executive director. No other public announcement was made of the change.

Rumors quickly circulated that Evans was forced out of his job. …

Here’s hoping we didn’t have to pay him a full $940K Gottfredson to leave. His replacement has now been found, and again Keefer has the scoop, here:

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