Oregon Bach Festival receives largest-ever gift

Berwicks launch new HIP orchestra with gift of $7.25 million

Andrew and Phyllis Berwick with John Evans, OBF’s president and general director     Andrew and Phyllis Berwick with John Evans

EUGENE, Ore. – (May 17, 2014) – Thanks to a $7.25 million gift from University of Oregon alumni Phyllis and Andrew Berwick, the Oregon Bach Festival will soon boast an orchestral training and touring program that will be one of the first of its kind in the country.

► VIDEO: Oregon Bach Festival receives largest-ever gift

Scheduled to launch in summer 2015, the Berwick Academy will be dedicated to historically informed performance practice of music from the 17th to the 19th centuries, open by audition to young professional musicians.

By far the largest single contribution in the festival’s 45-year history, the gift enables the academy to be tuition-free, essentially removing all barriers for talented young artists to pursue their passion.

Through its combination of immersive training, stellar faculty, and a concert tour—all at virtually no cost to participants—the university and festival foresee the Berwick Academy becoming the nation’s premier destination for aspiring musicians serious about historically informed performance (known as HIP).

The Berwicks met as UO students in the 1950s and have been involved and engaged as long-time, significant donors and volunteer leaders for both the university and the Oregon Bach Festival.

John Evans, OBF’s president and general director, announced the gift on Friday, May 16, in Portland, when UO President Michael Gottfredson presented the Berwicks with the university’s prestigious Pioneer Award.

“We really wanted to give a significant gift to the University of Oregon and the Oregon Bach Festival,” Andrew Berwick said. “This is a great festival, better than almost any in the world.”

“I think the Berwick Academy will set the stage for young musicians to enhance what they’ve already learned in their conservatory,” said Phyllis. “It will give them a deeper understanding of where all this began, especially with Bach.”

“The Berwicks’ contributions to this university are simply astounding,” said President Gottfredson. “The Oregon Bach Festival and the university are incredibly lucky to count them among our friends and trusted advisors.”

“Phyzz and Andy, thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Evans, acknowledging that the value and impact of the Berwick’s gift will set this new program apart.

“This is an incredibly generous gift by two truly amazing people. It affirms the Oregon Bach Festival and the University of Oregon as a destination for one-of-a-kind, life-changing experiences.

“And, true to the Berwicks’ character for doing things right, it’s a commitment of sufficient resources to ensure the highest caliber of education and performance from the start.”

While historically informed performance has long been the standard in Europe, few specialized training opportunities exist in the United States—a need that led the Berwicks to endow the program.

In 2015 Berwick Academy participants will train over a three-week period with OBF’s new artistic director, Matthew Halls, guest director Masaaki Suzuki (founder/director of the Bach Collegium Japan) and faculty and guest artists led by Monica Huggett (The Juilliard School) and Robert Levin (Harvard University).

An ensuing six-concert tour in Eugene, Florence and Portland will bring the repertoire—and the festival name—to new audiences, with plans in the future to extend the touring coast to coast.

The Berwick Academy is modeled on the European Union Baroque Orchestra, an important early-music training program founded in 1985. Matthew Halls, whose period-instrument recordings have received major acclaim, is a EUBO graduate and now a EUBO trustee.

About the Berwicks

Andy Berwick is a real estate developer and founder of Berwick Pacific Corporation in San Mateo, Calif. Phyllis Berwick is a former teacher.

The Berwicks established the university's Richard C. Williams Endowed Student Leadership Fund in 2004, which combines the academic theory of leadership with skills gained from working inside and outside of the classroom.

The Berwicks, who have long been involved with the San Francisco Symphony, attended their first Oregon Bach Festival concert in 2004. They have been significant donors to the Oregon Bach Festival since 2005, and they served as co-chairs for the final phase of OBF’s $10 million Saltzman Endowment campaign, making a leadership gift of $1.7 million, thus endowing the festival’s professional chorus, now called the Berwick Chorus of the Oregon Bach Festival.

In 2010, they received the festival's highest honor, the Saltzman Award, “presented only to individuals who have shown exceptionally high levels of leadership and commitment to help the festival achieve its mission.”

“Phyzz and Andy have a special place at the heart of the university and the OBF,” said Evans. “Without their philanthropy, leadership, and encouragement, the Oregon Bach Festival would not be anywhere near the organization it is today.”

The Berwick Academy’s first auditions take place in autumn 2014.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

For more information about this gift, contact George Evano: 541-346-2379; gevano@uoregon.edu

For more information about the Berwick Academy, contact Dave Goudy: 541-346-5675; berwickacademy@uoregon.edu

For more information about the Oregon Bach Festival, contact April Libman: 541-346-5667; alibman@uoregon.edu

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Gallery

Andrew and Phyllis Berwick with John Evans, OBF’s president and general director