Last head rolls at Oregon Bach Festival

Last head rolls at Oregon Bach Festival


norman lebrecht

June 23, 2019

The University of Oregon has quietly removed every single individual who was involved in the shameful removal of Matthew Halls as artistic director of its Bach Festival.

Provost Jayanth Banavar and his deputy Doug Blandy have both departed.

Now the OBF Executive Director Janelle McCoy has been told her $170,000 job has been abolished.

Letter from Dean to Faculty:

Dear Friends,
I wanted to be the first to share with you the news that we’ve made the difficult decision to eliminate the executive director position at Oregon Bach Festival, due to university-wide budget reductions that were announced earlier this year.

As many of you know, university administrators asked the School of Music and Dance to reduce OBF’s budget by $250,000 (which amounts to around 9 percent of the festival’s overall budget for 2019), as part of a campus-wide initiative to trim $12 million in total university costs.

As dean, I was faced with a tough choice. I carefully weighed our options, and ultimately arrived at the conclusion that this was a necessary step in order for us to preserve as many critical OBF staff positions as possible and ensure the festival’s ongoing success.

We are saddened that Janelle McCoy will be leaving…

Read on here.





  • Larry says:

    They don’t say exactly who will be running the Festival in the future. Surely the dean can’t. Will the Festival ultimately be abolished to “save money?” Perhaps the smart thing would be to break away from the University and form their on 501C3 nonprofit.

    They have also publicly advertised the artistic director job which is strange.

    • Holly says:

      I was about to write that when a position is eliminated, oftentimes the responsibilities are divided amongst remaining staffers and/or board members, depending on the structure of the organization. But then I looked at the job description at the link you posted, where it says that “The Artistic Director of Oregon Bach Festival (OBF) shapes the Festival’s primary artistic and educational vision and proposes artistic programming in collaboration with the OBF Executive Director [and others]…” which doesn’t make sense, given that the ED position has been eliminated.

      The headline on this post (“Last head rolls at Oregon Bach Festival”) implies that the elimination of the ED position was done as a means of getting rid of the incumbent, with the inference being that it was done as punishment for the botched handling of the AD situation. If this is true (and what’s the basis for the implication), then yes, elimination of a position is one way to get rid of a problematic staffer if there is no clear rationale for outright firing.

      The inclusion of the ED statement in the job description is 1) an error (no one reviewed the job description before posting the job; 2) bad timing on the job posting (poor coordination between boardroom and marketing); or 3) an implication that the ED position will be reinstated, which would be problematic, legally, if it had been eliminated as a means of firing the incumbent.

    • Monsoon says:

      They’re going to get hit with a lawsuit if their plan is to terminate her with a layoff and then go and recreate the position with a different name.

      It seems like the University has it out for the Festival. The University’s budget is $1+ billion and wants to cut $12 million; the Festival is being asked to cut its budget by 9 percent. That’s pretty disproportionate.

  • Bert says:

    To keep higher education affordable, you have to keep the tendency of budget growth in check. Otherwise people will just skip college, study online or at the library, or do OJT. Student loan debt is a thing and they’re trying to address that too. Something like a trillion and half in student debt out there. Is college worth it, honestly?

  • Mick the Knife says:

    She was the hatchet-man.

  • Hanna Nahan says:

    Seems legit. They lost an artistic director, now they drop the executive director while continuing the search for a new artistic director. No one is losing out here. Least of all Bach…

  • Doug says:

    We are saddened that Janelle McCoy will be leaving…

    LOL! Translation: “we are thrilled to see her sent packing.”