University is challenged over its dismissal of Bach festival chief

University is challenged over its dismissal of Bach festival chief


norman lebrecht

September 12, 2017

From Amy Adams:

An Open Letter to Jayanth Banavar, Provost and Senior Vice President, and Michael Schill, University of Oregon President –



Dear Sirs –

I am an alumna of the University of Oregon School of Music (1990) and a longtime part of the Oregon Bach Festival (as a musician in the chorus, and more recently as a patron and fan.) I am involved with several arts organizations in our beautiful city, including the Shedd Institute, Eugene Opera and Eugene Symphony.

What has happened to our beloved Oregon Bach Festival? How can the university stonewall the public’s very justifiable demand for explanation?

It’s incomprehensible – and a simple “Sorry, but it’s difficult and necessary and utterly confidential” accompanied by an administrative shrug and a repetition of that weak and banal press release is insufficient answer, considering the enormity of the university’s and festival’s action.

Matthew Halls’ personal reputation as a musician, a conductor, an artistic director is being sullied while the university sits by and does nothing. The community’s trust in the Oregon Bach Festival, and in the University of Oregon itself is eroding while the university does nothing.

If the underlying rationale for Halls’s firing was solid, then issue a statement. (A truth-filled one, it hardly needs to be said, that begins to undo the damage done by the weak and unconvincing OBF statement issued to the public.)

If the underlying rationale for Halls’ firing was poor – then the ONLY morally just thing to do would be walk it back and correct it. Otherwise, you personally are asking the OBF community to accept your decision on faith, while simultaneously undermining your own credibility.

Please, gentlemen, speak. Act.

“No matter how far you have gone down the wrong road, turn back.”


Amy Adams, Class of 1990


  • Marc says:

    Amy’s been keeping her eye on this business since the beginning and certainly merits the gratitude of the entire community that loves the OBF. I hope her letter bears good fruit.

  • Olassus says:

    Why should this not be a personnel matter like any other? Because he is an artist? The board has every right, and perhaps duty, to be tight-lipped.

    • Amy Adams says:

      The board is advisory only (and generous donors). It’s the university being opaque.

      Confidentiality is not inherently good.
      It can be misused like any tool – confidentiality can undermine trust and conceal negligence or incompetence.

    • EricB says:

      In case you have not followed the whole affair (as your comment seems to imply), the Board was not even consulted on the matter, nor even informed…..
      This is NOT a “personal matter”, there are ways and rules on how to do things, how to dismiss people, how to break contracts, how to manage organizations, how to inform all the people concerned… The USA work place is not a Jungle, as seem to think the UO, the OBF, and you apparently.

      • Olassus says:

        I haven’t, and I should say UO’s HR Dept. instead of the board. Such people are usually tight-lipped, and for good reason.

        • EricB says:

          And usually, the more wrong they are, the more tight-lipped.
          This story, as an excuse for his dismissal, of a “racist comment” is anything but credible. You’d think before such a hasty decisions, they would have confronted the persons involved, they would have asked his version of the affair from MH. But no, just a suspicion and OUT. If you think it is the way things should work, but at the work place and in society at large, even with a “tight-lipped” UO provost or president, you’re plain wrong.

    • Jonathan says:

      This was not a dcision of the OBF board, they are only advisory, and kept in the dark as much as everyone, last I heard.

      Also Halls was a contractor, not an employee. And his case has been very different from most actions against employees.

  • EricB says:

    “Gentlemen” ????
    😉 😉 😉

  • timbits says:

    …no offense but why is it news that an affiliate of the festival wrote a letter to the management? Do you print all open letters on every topic of interest to your readers? This is kind of weird.

    • EricB says:

      Why weird ? There has been 2 or 3 articles on this topic on Slipped Disc, so this is a kind of “follow up” of people’s reactions to this unfair dismissal.