The Oregon Bach Festival returns to the stage this month in Eugene after a two-year pandemic break with a battle of the conductors highlighting the big three choral works by J.S. Bach. It’s the first time in three decades the festival has presented all three works in a single season.
Three finalists to become the 52-year-old festival’s artistic director — a position that has been vacant since the University of Oregon fired Matthew Halls from the post in 2017 — will each conduct one of Bach’s big three choral works in a series of Tuesday evening concerts at the Hult Center
Kazem Abdullah, former music and artistic director of the city of Aachen, Germany, conducts the Mass in B Minor June 21; Eric Jacobsen, music director of the Orlando Philharmonic, conducts the St. John Passion June 28; and Miguel Harth-Bedoya, former music director of the Eugene Symphony, conducts the St. Matthew Passion July 5. All concerts start at 7:30 pm.
The festival will also present Abdullah conducting Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, the “Jupiter,” on June 18; Jacobsen conducting Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 on June 28; and Harth-Bedoya conducting a program he designed that explores the musical influence on other composers of Bach and the music community in Leipzig
Other highlights at this summer’s festival include the return of violinist Monica Huggett, who will open the festival by performing and conducting Bach’s Musical Offering on June 17; pianists Lara Downes and Simone Dinnerstein performing with the festival chorus and orchestra in a program designed by Downes with music by Kurt Weill, Sam Cooke, Meredith Monk, Reena Esmail and George Gershwin, and the world premiere of Paola Prestini’s Let Me See the Sun on June 22; and baritone Tyler Duncan singing songs from Schubert’s Winterreise on June 22.
The festival runs June 17 through July 5 at the Hult Center, Beall Concert Hall and other venues. For tickets and more information, go to OregonBachFestival.org.