EUGENE, Ore. -- The Oregon Bach Festival's artistic director and master conductor announced his retirement next year. Before the curtains close on the 2012 run, Helmuth Rilling will conduct Bach's masterpiece St. Matthew Passion one final time, Sunday evening.
Helmuth Rilling can be considered a master when it comes to Bach. In his career, Rilling has recorded all of Johann Sebastian Bach's compositions, creating a catalog of over 170 CDs.
In that time the 79-year-old has been the artistic director for the Oregon Bach Festival since it began in 1970. Next year, however, the soon-to-be octogenarian will pass the baton to the British conductor Matthew Halls.
"Next year I'll be 80 years old, and maybe that's enough." said Rilling. "I've done enough here in Eugene, and I did it with joy."
Rilling takes a big step toward that retirement on Sunday, leading the Bach Festival Orchestra and Choir in a performance of St. Matthew Passion.
St. Matthew Passion is Johann Sebastian Bach's largest piece, and has been acclaimed as one of the greatest masterworks of religious art in western civilization.
This will be Rilling's final performance of St. Mathew Passion for the Oregon Bach Festival before he retires after the 2013 OBF season.