If you’ve sidled by the University of Oregon campus just west of the Pioneer Cemetery recently, you’ve undoubtedly seen a huge construction project underway. The building, Berwick Hall, will serve as new digs for the Oregon Bach Festival (OBF), and the stalwart group’s leaders couldn’t be more pleased.
“OBF began in 1970 as a conducting workshop sponsored by the UO School of Music,” says OBF’s director of artistic administration Michael Anderson. “It was founded by UO Professor of Choral Studies Dr. Royce Saltzman and renowned German conductor Helmuth Rilling.”
In the early years, Anderson explains, the office was in the School of Music and was known as the University of Oregon Summer Festival of Music.
“The festival gradually expanded, and in 1979 it was re-named Oregon Bach Festival,” Anderson says. “In 1982 the large scale performances were moved over to the new Hult Center for the Performing Arts. In the early ’90s, the offices were moved over to Agate Hall and later to an office building in the Riverfront Research Park.
Berwick Hall represents a coming home of sorts in its location adjacent to the School of Music.
“This location will enable us to better manage concerts and educational activities at the School of Music while we continue our presence at the Hult Center,” Anderson says.
The new space will offer artists and audiences a superb state-of-the-art rehearsal and performance room.
“OBF artists and Berwick Academy members will enjoy a beautiful new rehearsal room with wonderful acoustics,” Anderson says. “This room will also serve as an excellent venue for small performances for audiences up to 100 to 150 people. Berwick Hall will also house the OBF administrative offices, offering much better proximity of artists, community and staff.”
OBF expects the building to be fully operational in the fall of 2017.
“We plan to fine-tune the acoustics during the 2017 festival, as well as use the hall for rehearsals during the summer,” Anderson says.