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.