#TBT Oregon Bach Fest Still Digging Up

If the Oregon Bach Festival (OBF) hoped time might soften its beleaguered status, a painstaking comprehensive review of their season written by veteran culture journalist Tom Manoff and published in the 8/13/2018 edition of Oregon ArtsWatch demonstrates those aspirations have yet to materialize.

Manoff paints a picture of OBF as a group struggling to dig out of a year-old public relations mess. He takes particularly careful aim at the impact losing an artistic executive had on quality and cohesion.

Judging from the seven events I saw this year, OBF 2018 was below the standards of years past. Nothing distinguished it from an ordinary lineup of classical fare. No artistic vision unified the schedule or oversaw the standards of performance. Engaging with how a particular conductor thinks about music was no longer possible for devoted audience members. Following that conductor’s musical talent (first Rilling, then Halls) from year to year and piece to piece has been the most important feature of OBF. With the absence of a world-class musician heading the festival, I felt a profound artistic void.

Contrary to Manoff’s view is an article from the University of Oregon’s newspaper (UofO is OBF’s parent organization) that cites a quote from a Register-Guard article that states “It was a festival infused with real, palpable joy.” No author, date, or reference link to the Register-Guard article was provided.

If you missed the OBF kerfuffle last year, no worries, here are several articles to help bring you up to speed.

Are Things About To Go Sideways For The Oregon Bach Festival?

Speak No Evil: Oregon Bach Festival

The Beleaguered Bach Festival

The Oregon Bach Festival’s PR Crisis Just Got Weird

Oregon Bach Fest Is Back In The News



About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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