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Oregon Bach Festival names Matthew Halls as Rilling successor

Location: Oregon, USA
On August 24 the Oregon Bach Festival announced the appointment of 35-year-old British conductor and keyboardist Matthew Halls as its next artistic director.

Halls will assume artistic leadership after the 2013 season, succeeding Helmuth Rilling, the founding artistic director from Stuttgart who will remain with the University of Oregon event as director emeritus.

Based in London, Halls has made his mark as one of today’s leading young conductors, having made significant debuts with the Houston Symphony, Tonkünstler Orchestra, Bach Collegium Stuttgart, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, Berlin Radio Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Iceland Symphony, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. His 2011 season includes engagements with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, and the National Symphony in Washington, D.C.

He is the founding director of the Retrospect Ensemble, formed in 2009, though already in the vanguard of performance-practice groups with an annual series in London’s famed Wigmore Hall and appearances ranging from the Edinburgh International Festival to the Krakow Festival of Polish Music and a relationship with the Korean National Opera.

Retrospect’s recent recording of Bach’s Easter and Ascension oratorios on the Linn label, “a disc to make your heart leap” —The Times (London), is a finalist in the Baroque Vocal category as the 2011 Gramophone Record of the Year.

Halls has performed on keyboard for such period-practice luminaries as John Eliot Gardiner, Ton Koopman, and Monica Huggett. A former director of the UK’s famed King’s Consort, he has worked extensively with many of Europe’s foremost early music groups, and in opera houses including The Netherlands Opera, Bavarian State Opera, and Komische Oper Berlin, in venues such as the Megaron (Athens), Lincoln Center (New York) and Wiener Festwochen (Vienna).

Halls made his OBF debut in July 2011 as concert conductor and lecturer-teacher in the conducting master class. His Eugene and Portland concerts (works by Purcell, Britten, and Handel) met with instant standing ovations, rapturous applause, and critical praise.

He conducted Rilling’s own Bach Collegium and Gachinger Kantorei during the 2010 Stuttgart European Music Festival.
Halls will conduct programs in the 2012 and 2013 Oregon Bach Festival as artistic director designate. His 2012 repertoire will be announced at the OBF’s season preview in the last week of October. Festival dates for 2012 are June 29-July 15.
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