OBF and Matthew Halls announcement

The Oregon Bach Festival announced today the appointment of 35-year-old British conductor and keyboardist Matthew Halls as its next artistic director.  Halls is known to many as the founding director of Retrospect Ensemble.  Retrospect's recent recording of Bach's 'aster and Ascension Oratorios, "a disc to make your heart leap" (The Times), is a Finalist in the Baroque Vocal category at the 2011 Gramophone Awards.

Halls will assume artistic leadership after the 2013 season, succeeding Helmuth Rilling, the founding artistic director from Stuttgart who will remain with the University of Oregon event as director emeritus.

In his announcement, John Evans, OBF 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," said Evans, "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."

"I'm absolutely thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to continue and develop my relationship with the Oregon Bach Festival," said Halls.

"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," he continued. "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."

Hear Matthew Halls discuss his experience with Bach ('always been a central figure in my musical life'), commitment to education (both his parents were teachers), and interests off the podium (Italian cuisine, wine, active sports) here.