He may not have much else in common with Eminem, but Helmuth Rilling, like the raunchy rapper, won a Grammy this year. Rilling, artistic director for the Oregon Bach Festival, got his for conducting the festival orchestra and chorus in a recording of Krzysztof Penderecki's Credo, an original work co-commissioned by the festival. That kind of distinguished performance draws students like Matthew Svoboda to the annual classical-music celebration at the University of Oregon in Eugene. "It's a first-class festival with incredible musicians I'd expect to see only in New York, Paris or Los Angeles," says Svoboda, who is pursuing a master's degree in composition and choral conducting.
You don't have to be a serious music student to savor the festival. In this year's concert series, which runs from June 22 through July 8, Rilling explores the theme "Seasons of Life" with works by Bach, Brahms, Verdi, Vivaldi and Faure. Also on the schedule are concerts for kids with stories by Dr. Seuss (Gertrude McFuzz and Gerald McBoing Boing) set to music and a free workshop for high school vocalists called Hands On, Shoes Off, led by Bobby McFerrin.
Other colleges in the area include Oregon State University in Corvallis, and Reed, Lewis & Clark and the University of Portland in Portland.