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Summer's Bach.

Byline: Bob Keefer The Register-Guard


BACH IN EUGENE 37th Oregon Bach Festival When: Today through July 16 Where: The Hult Center, the University of Oregon's Beall Concert Hall, and elsewhere around town Highlights: Mozart's unfinished Mass in C Minor, which was completed by Harvard scholar Robert Levin Bach's B Minor Mass, performed in sync with a contemporary movie, "The Sound of Eternity," by Bastian Cleve at the Hult Center (and without the movie at the new First Baptist Church on Coburg Road the next night) Haydn's Creation Mass, to be recorded for a CD Tickets: $15 to $49 (682-5000 or

Bach is back. The sprawling festival, practically an archetypal Oregon summer experience, brings German choral conductor Helmuth Rilling and a host of world-class singers and orchestra players to Eugene for nearly three weeks of concerts, lectures, recitals and other programs.

You can see big formal concerts - such as opening night's performance of W.A. Mozart Mass in C Minor at the Hult Center's Silva Concert Hall on Friday - or small, informal and even free ones, such as a series of noon concerts in the Hult Center lobby and a pair of organ recitals at Central Lutheran Church and at First Baptist Church.

You can hear Bach done traditionally, or you can hear jazz pianist Uri Caine and his band take apart Bach's Goldberg Variations and reassemble them with Latin, gospel and electronic sounds.

Like all classical music presenters, the Bach Festival is trying hard to reach out to new audiences. That means doing things differently, and so this year Rilling takes the festival choir, orchestra and soloists up Coburg Road to the new First Baptist Church to present Bach's B Minor Mass, a perennial favorite. Tickets are a steal at $12, making it one of the best deals of the entire festival.

Another longtime crowd pleaser is Rilling's lecture and demonstration series on Bach's cantatas and other music.

In the informal presentations, Rilling talks and uses the festival chorus and orchestra to illustrate his points before a master-class conductor leads a full performance.

This year he'll do three cantatas on separate afternoons and then the Mozart Coronation Mass and the F.J. Haydn Creation Mass, the latter spread over two days.

If you haven't seen Rilling conduct in Eugene, you may want to go soon.

The festival, which started as an informal summer music fest run by Rilling and University of Oregon music professor Royce Saltzman, is in a state of transition. Saltzman announced this spring that he will retire as executive director after next year's festival.

Though he plans to hang around to help the festival finish raising a $10 million endowment, Saltzman has said it's time for an orderly change to younger leadership.

Rilling, who will no doubt be next to retire, would like to see the festival continue to build on its strengths.

"This is a hard question," he said in an interview about finding new leadership. "It is nearly impossible. Some of the guiding principles which we have followed through all these years will remain the same. It is a festival which takes its name from Bach and is dedicated to Bach's works."

Another feature Rilling would like to see continue is the festival's strong connection with choral music.

"We always have been a festival with the accent on big choral pieces," he said. "Not only Bach but Handel and Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Brahms and so on."

Finally, he said, he would like the festival to continue its emphasis on teaching.

"Thousands of conductors who are conducting today have been in Eugene at the Oregon Bach Festival and have been influenced by what we do there.

``I think this is, of course, great. We cannot do anything better than to pass on to younger people in future generations what we have built up.''
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Title Annotation:Arts & Literature; As the festival cues up its 37th year, a changing of the guard looks imminent
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 29, 2006
Previous Article:Pianist finishes what Mozart left undone.

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