When I started taking photos for the Oregon Bach Festival three years ago, I’d only recently purchased a DSLR camera. The experience of being chosen to photograph such a big event was exciting, but incredibly intimidating. I was also lucky to have one of my professors from the UO support me the whole way.
The first performance I photographed was the 2011 opening night, with Yo-Yo Ma. Yo-Ya Ma, he’s kind of a big deal. I got some great shots that night, but everything about it was new. It was, to say the least, a stressful experience. I was considered a “professional” photographer all of the sudden! And I had to know the right moment to take the photo. What if I didn’t?
Now, I’m a Bach Fest veteran! Three years of shooting performances in venues in Eugene and Portland, and I’m completely comfortable in the various concert halls. One of the most important things I learned is choosing the best place and time in each venue and at each concert type to take a photo without the shutter sound of the DSLR camera disrupting the performance.
Three years, and dozens of performances and thousands of photos later, I’ve picked some of my favorite shots to share, including two by my teacher and mentor.
10. Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy, Hult Center, Eugene, 2013.
The SFYCA always has fun and talented kids. They love photo ops, and this one really shows their vivacity.
9. Yo-Yo Ma and Jeffrey Kahane, Hult Center, Eugene, 2011.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma and conductor Jeffrey Kahane gave an incredible performance. The crowd erupted with applause the moment Yo-Yo finished his encore. His energetic reaction to the crowd is uncommon at classical performances. This is one of my favorite reaction shots from the OBF.
8. Joan of Arc at the Stake, Hult Center, Eugene, 2011. Dan Morrison.
This was the most dramatic performance I saw at the OBF. In this shot, Eileen DeSandra as Joan of Arc is in the final moments of her sentence. Christine Brandes, the soloist on the platform, calls Joan to the afterlife.
7. Schola Cantorum de Venezuela, University of Oregon School of Music and Dance, Eugene, 2011. Dan Morrison.
This group from Venezuela had a sound unlike anything else I’ve heard at the OBF. Sometimes tribal sounding, other times more classical, each song had such precision and intensity that, even in rehearsals, I watched and listened in awe.
6. Helmuth Rilling and Royce Saltzman, Hult Center, Eugene, 2013.
I love this photo of OBF artistic director Helmuth (center) and director emeritus Royce (right) from a Q&A with Fred Crafts (Eugene Ambassador of the Arts, left). Royce was called up to give his thoughts on Helmuth’s time as artistic director, and both men grinned at each other, sharing their friendship with the audience, as he walked up.
5. Pink Martini, The Cuthbert Amphitheater, Eugene, 2012.
Storm Large was subbing for the regular lead singer of Pink Martini at this concert. I have never been star-struck, but Storm’s presence is larger than life. She’s beautiful, has an incredible voice, and you can’t help but stare at her. This was such a fun concert. The photos don’t do her justice, but I loved these shots.
4. Bach: B Minor Mass, Hult Center, Eugene, 2013.
This was taken at the end of the Bach B Minor Mass, Helmuth’s final performance as OBF artistic director. Helmuth reveled in the praise from the crowd — a lasting standing ovation like I’ve never seen (or heard) at OBF.
3. St. John Passion, University of Oregon School of Music and Dance, Eugene, 2013.
This performance is likely the last “big” Bach piece to be performed in Beall Concert Hall, where the OBF had its start. This photo was taken the moment Helmuth put down his arms. The crowd applauded after what seemed like an endless silence.
2. A Child of Our Time, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland, 2012.
Matthew Halls will take over as OBF artistic director this year. This photo was taken last year when there was starting to be quite a buzz about him replacing Helmuth. The concert was inspiring, leaving no doubt that Matthew is the perfect replacement.
1. Toast to Helmuth Rilling after Bach: B Minor Mass, Hult Center, Eugene, 2013.
This should be the number-one photo. Helmuth is leaving a legacy of greatness at the OBF. This toast to him was well-deserved, and a perfect close to his time as artistic director
I look forward to more favorite shots in the future. This work has been among the best experiences of my career (even the short one that it is) so far.