John Evans is apparently out — with no announcement or explanation from the University of Oregon — as the head of the Oregon Bach Festival.
Evans, a former producer for the BBC and an expert on the music of British composer Benjamin Britten, came to work for the festival in 2007. He replaced OBF co-founder Royce Saltzman, who was forced out after a scathing report from an independent consultant, hired by the UO, concluded that the festival had gone stale under his long-time leadership.
Two sources have told Eugene Art Talk that Evans “disappeared” from the festival, as one put it, last week. He is no longer listed on the OBF website as general director and president, his most recent titles. In fact, he isn’t listed at all. Clarinetist Michael Anderson, former OBF artistic director, is now listed as “interim executive director.”
Evans has been known as an aggressive and sometimes abrasive figure, pushing the festival to expand into Portland and other parts of the state, and advocating the practice of historically informed performance — playing the music of Bach as Bach himself might have heard it — over the rich, 19th century style preferred by founding artistic director Helmuth Rilling.
I have several calls in to UO officials — not to mention Mike Anderson — and will update this report as information becomes available.
Update 6:45 p.m: Evans has apparently posted for Facebook friends that he is moving into a strategic planning role at the festival, whatever that means. Still no response from UO officials.
Update 7:15: Another source says an email went out from UO that Evans will be a “strategic adviser” with the festival until January. Still no word from anyone at UO.
Update 7:45: Another OBF insider has confirmed Evans’ departure, saying that it was his abrasive relations with everyone from festival employees to artistic director Matthew Halls that led to his ouster. Still nothing from UO. Have messaged John Evans on Facebook.