University of Oregon breaks silence, says nothing

University of Oregon breaks silence, says nothing


norman lebrecht

September 13, 2017

The University that fired Matthew Halls as artistic director of the Oregon Bach Festival has finally come out from its nuclear bunker to make a public statement.

Unfortunately, the statement is less than truthful. Halls says he was fired and doesn’t know why. The UO says it is ‘disappointed and saddened’ that his relationship with the festival has ended.

Jayanth Banavar, the provost who has signed this bizarre and meaningless statement, is a recent arrival from the computer, mathematical and natural sciences college of the University of Maryland. He is paid $475,000 a year – a $100,000 salary hike, plus a $1,000-per-month car allowance – to come up with this self-deceptive piffle. He ought to try telling the truth.

Here’s the UO statement in full:

The University is disappointed and saddened that Matthew Halls’ relationship with the Oregon Bach Festival (OBF) has drawn to a close.  We are thrilled with the successful series of performances orchestrated by Mr. Halls and by his creative conducting.  Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for there to be differences among the parties involved in such festivals. We appreciate Mr. Hall’s many positive contributions to the Festival, which include creating the Organ Institute and Vocal Fellows Program, facilitating the participation of the University of Oregon Chamber Choir in the Festival, annual residency at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance each Fall, and developing the Berwick Academy–an elite orchestral academy that has drawn students from around the world.  Everyone at the University and OBF sincerely wish nothing but continued success for Mr. Halls.

The University looks forward to working collaboratively and in consultation with the Bach Festival Board to refine the framework through which OBF blends excellence in musical performance with innovative educational opportunities to create an inspired community of musicians and music lovers.  As the Festival approaches its 50th year in 2020, everyone involved in the Festival is eager to move forward with programing and activities that are consistent with the legacy established by Helmuth Rilling and Royce Saltzman.  The OBF will continue to bring music and education to the local and worldwide community that is built around the monumental contributions to music of J.S. Bach.



Jayanth Banavar

Provost and Senior Vice President

The University of Oregon


  • OBF fan says:

    Disappointing. Just tell us the truth and we can all move on!

  • EricB says:

    Pathetic back-patting bullshit…..
    “differences” don’t explain the why and the how MH was sacked, and their silence up to now, nor their absolute disregard of the Board.
    And he dares talk about the 2020’s 50th OBF season ? There’ll be nothing left in 2018.

    • EricB says:

      Furthermore, if you have nothing to hide and perfectly valid reasons to fire someone, you don’t pay him/her 90 000$ to keep silent.

  • Nicholas Stix says:

    A wildly overpaid, affirmative action provost fires, based on AA politics, a white man who was presumably hired based on merit, and then lies about it all. Halls’ successor will be an AA hire.

    Music means nothing to Jayanth Banavar. How long before he eliminates all artistic merit, and rules over concerts reminiscent of performances in Red China?

  • Surajit Sen says:

    While I don’t know about the case, I do know Professor Banavar for 25+ years. He is a widely respected administrator (this is easy to verify by googling) and a world class scholar. It is perfectly reasonable to be critical but unacademic to speak without knowing about the person being criticized.