Oregon Bach Festival Reworks 2021 Plans as COVID-19 Health & Safety Remain a Priority

Due to ongoing precautions surrounding COVID-19, the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance has made the difficult decision to convert the 2021 Oregon Bach Festival to a series of virtual events — offering audiences around the country and abroad the opportunity to enjoy the OBF season in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

“We want nothing more than to return to full concert halls and large social gatherings,” says Sabrina Madison-Cannon, the Phyllis and Andrew Berwick Dean at the School of Music and Dance. “But, like so many other performing arts organizations of our kind, the health trends and data are telling us to consider alternative ways of serving our community.

Festival leadership has spent months exploring programming options and has developed the best-possible approach to keeping our audiences, musicians, staff and students safe, while still presenting the world-class summer festival that we all love so much.”

The slate of OBF 2021 concerts and other virtual experiences are set to be announced in late March.

With the festival shifting to a virtual format, SOMD has also made the choice to extend the search for the next OBF artistic director through the 2022 season.

“Appointing a new artistic leader remains the Bach festival’s top priority,” assures Madison-Cannon. “Live music and public engagement are invaluable during this search and we now know that those aspects will be limited in the summer of 2021. We need our audiences, choruses and orchestras to play an integral role in choosing our next artistic director.”

Search committee chair Sharon Paul further explains that OBF is focused on finding the best artistic director to lead it into the future. “We’re fortunate that all three of our finalists continue to be enthusiastic, involved and agree that a thorough, community-based process is better than a quick process.

“They understand the current global circumstances and remain very passionate about the future of OBF, expanding the festival’s educational mission and exploring innovative ways to reach fresh audiences.”

The three candidates have previously been announced as Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Eric Jacobsen and Julian Wachner.

OBF will create digital opportunities for donors and patrons to interact with artistic director candidates and build relationships with all three conductors in the 2021 interim, before returning to see them live in 2022.

Upon return to the stage, audiences can still expect to see each candidate lead OBF musicians in a Bach choral work and a chamber orchestra concert.

Over the coming weeks and months, the OBF website will begin listing public and private events designed to interface with all three artistic director candidates as the 50-year-old festival continues the important work of selecting the right person and vision for its future.


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