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OK, I’m back from summer vacation, a couple weeks of backpacking at Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California. I’m tan, rested, and ready to plunge back into the local arts scene, so long as there are no bears involved.

Meanwhile, there’s been news in the local arts world:

As of this morning, Eugene Ballet co-founder Riley Grannan has made it official, and public, at last: He is indeed retiring after 38 years running the company. He and Toni Pimble, who remains as artistic director, founded EBC here in 1978; it’s the only dance company in the state to have won a governor’s award for the arts.

Riley’s not what you’d call replaceable, but Josh Neckels, most recently production manager of the ballet, will take over as executive director.

Meanwhile, Karin Clarke is about to open her gallery’s inaugural Eugene Biennial exhibition, with work from artists from around southwest Oregon. The show fills the void left when the city cut funding to the non-profit Jacobs Gallery and the Mayor’s Art Show collapsed. The Biennial opens August 3 at the gallery, 760 Willamette Street, and runs through August 27. A reception and award ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday, August 5. (And, yes, I have a piece in the show.)

Finally, I returned from backpacking to find an interesting email in my inbox from an anonymous out-of-town musician who played in Matthew Halls’ historically informed performance of Bach’s B Minor Mass that opened the Oregon Bach Festival on June 24.

My review picked on the fact that HIP music may not belong in the spacious but acoustically dead Silva Concert Hall. “It’s OK for big, loud, unsubtle sound,” I wrote of the Silva, which was designed to use 1970s-vintage electronic enhancement that is now usually turned off.  “But it struggles to present anything very quiet. And it turns out that a HIP version of the B Minor Mass has a lot of subtle going on.”

The musician’s email is worth quoting at some length:

I have to say that at least some of us knew going in that it was going to be about as you described it, and I can tell you honestly that we were putting out 150 percent in a fervent attempt to overcome the sonic black hole that seems to be the predominant characteristic of Silva Hall, all of whose worst properties seem to be emphasized by doing historical performances there.

… It’s sad because this B Minor was a beautiful performance if you happened to be sitting where I was on the stage. This was my third B Minor this season, and was by far the best.

… Seems that there must be a decent size church with good acoustics somewhere in Eugene. Since historical performance is going to be integral to the festival for a while, at least, I hope that a good solution can be found for the larger projects. I’m all for amplification if we have to continue to do them at Silva, and frankly I was surprised that they weren’t adding a bit of ambience for the B Minor.

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