Matthew Halls - Oregon Festival - OregonLive.com
24 August 2011OregonLive.com
35, a bright British conductor who comes out of the early music
movement, will replace founder Helmuth Rilling as artistic director at
the Oregon Bach Festival at the end of the 2013 season. Rilling,
who led the 17-day festival since its founding in 1970, will remain
with the University of Oregon event as director emeritus.
years, the German-born Rilling has been the heart and soul of the
festival. His deep knowledge of classical music's great choral works,
and his majestic, measured performances, have shaped nearly two
generations of audiences, both in live concert and on hundreds of
recordings. He will remain with the University of Oregon event as
Halls reflects significant change, not least
in a shift toward early music performance practice, which Rilling
resisted. Halls is a harpsichordist as well as a conductor with
expertise in Baroque music, especially that of Bach. In 2005, he led the
Portland Baroque Orchestra's performances of Handel's "Messiah. But his
breadth as a conductor in other music also helped win him the job.
In a statement, John Evans, the festival's president and executive director, said that
Halls was the ideal candidate at the right time.
"In Matthew, we found a
candidate who has it all, a range of repertoire well-matched to
the programming needs of the Festival; an international reputation in the worlds
of choral and early music, specializing in historically-informed performances;
consummate skill as a Bach interpreter; a commitment to teaching and education;
and most of all, a figure who is passionate about the music at the heart of the
OBF, and charismatic in communicating that passion."
Said Halls in a statement, "It is a very
great honor for me to accept the position of Artistic Director at the festival
upon the retirement of Helmuth Rilling-a colossal musical figure for whom I have
the deepest admiration. I am looking forward to working closely
with John Evans to help preserve everything that makes this festival so special,
whilst exploring and developing new ideas that will allow the festival's musical
and educational programs to continue to grow. Above all, I look forward to
summer months in Oregon filled with music-making of the highest level as we all
make our annual pilgrimage to the Pacific Northwest to celebrate and honor the
musical legacy of the great Johann Sebastian Bach."
Based in London,
Halls has made debuts with the Houston Symphony, Tonkünstler Orchestra, Bach
Collegium Stuttgart, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, Berlin Radio
Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Iceland Symphony, and the Scottish Chamber
Orchestra. His 2011 season includes engagements with the Netherlands Radio
Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, and the National
Symphony in Washington, D.C.
He is the founding director of the
Retrospect Ensemble, an English period instrument and choir group formed
in 2009. The group gives annual performances in London's Wigmore Hall
and has appeared at the Edinburgh International Festival, Krakow
Festival of Polish Music and the Korean National
Retrospect's recent recording of Bach's Easter and Ascension
oratorios on the Linn label, "a disc to make your heart leap"
(The Times-London) is a finalist in the Baroque Vocal category as the 2011
Gramophone Record of the Year.
Halls has performed on keyboard
period-practice luminaries as John Eliot Gardiner, Ton Koopman, and
Portland Baroque Orchestra's Monica
Huggett. A former director of the UK's famed King's Consort, he has
worked with many of Europe's early music groups, and in opera
houses including The Netherlands Opera, Bavarian State Opera, and
Berlin, in venues such as the Megaron (Athens), Lincoln Center (New
Wiener Festwochen (Vienna).
On disc, Halls's 2007 recording of Bach's
Goldberg Variations on harpsichord earned the "outstanding" list of the
International Record Review.
"Halls is a formidably talented young
keyboard player, bursting with energy and inspiration,"
wrote the Evening Standard.
Halls graduated from Oxford and taught there
As for his programming, he has designed choral
programs that contrast the Renaissance's William Byrd and the 20th
century's Benjamin Britten. He also has an affinity for the 19th century
Germanic and 20th
century British repertoires.
made his debut at the Oregon Bach Festival in July 2011 as concert conductor and lecturer-teacher in the
conducting master class.
"My trip to Eugene this past July ranks
amongst one of the most stimulating and rewarding collaborations of my musical
career to date," he said. "I was immediately struck by the extraordinary levels
of talent and commitment amongst musicians and staff alike and experienced
firsthand the very real sense of pride that the local community feels for this
have seen Matthew Halls working and conducting in Stuttgart and Eugene," said
Rilling. "He is an unusually gifted musician with a solid professional grounding
and exceptional charisma. I'm sure he will preserve the heritage of our
Festival, and will also find new ways to enrich the lives of many people with
In his announcement, Evans, former Head of Music
at BBC's Radio 3 cultural network for 12 years, outlined a process that began
soon after he joined the Festival in 2008.
"The search committee
identified twenty potential candidates," said Evans. "Eight of whom have now
appeared here as guest conductors, and we had extensive talks with two others.
It's interesting that Matthew joins the Festival at the same age as Helmuth
(Rilling) when the Festival started, 42 years ago. That indicates the Festival
and University of Oregon are ready to invest in a rare, young talent, someone
with a fresh approach capable of taking this organization to even greater
Halls will conduct programs in the 2012 and 2013 Oregon Bach
Festival as artistic director designate. His 2012 repertoire will be announced
at the OBF's season preview in the last week of October. Festival dates for
2012 are June 29-July 15.
Related LinksMatthew HallsRetrospect EnsembleJ.S. Bach: Easter and Ascension OratoriosJ.S. Bach: Goldberg Variations