Oregon Bach Festival Candidate Drops Out of Running for Top Job

Craig Hella Johnson still performing here in May

Craig Hella Johnson. Photo by James Goulden/courtesy OBF

One of three finalists being considered by the University of Oregon to become the new artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival has pulled out of the race.

In an email sent to OBF stakeholders on Wednesday, Feb. 5, UO School of Music and Dance Dean Sabrina Madison-Cannon said conductor and composer Craig Hella Johnson, music director of the Grammy-winning Conspirare choir in Austin, had withdrawn from consideration.

“Craig shared with us that he had suffered a series of difficult personal losses lately, culminating with the passing of his beloved mother just a few months ago,” she wrote.

Each of the finalists had been scheduled to conduct two works at this summer’s festival.

The other two are Miguel Harth-Bedoya, former Eugene Symphony music director who now heads the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and Julian Wachner, director of music and the arts at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City.

The festival search committee had already selected an alternate finalist in the event someone pulled out, the email said, and OBF was talking with that person about replacing Johnson in the festival lineup this summer.

Johnson is still expected to be in Eugene on May 16 when Conspirare performs his oratorio “Considering Matthew Shepard” in a previously booked engagement at the Hult Center.