Oregon Festival Fires Conductor For Using Southern Accent In Joke With Black Friend In Orchestra

Halls was told that his four-year contract was being terminated.  Mobley says that he and Halls routinely joke about their homes and their cuisine.  Halls and Mobley were chatting at a reception when they started talking about a recent London concert that had an “antebellum” feeling.  Halls “apologized on behalf of England” and then joked in a Southern accent “Do you want some grits?” 
Mobley denounced how his friend was “victimized” due to “an innocent joke that has been entirely taken out of context.”  He said that he and Halls make fun of each other’s accents and that “Race was not an issue. He was imitating a southern accent, not putting on a black accent, and there was nothing racist or malicious about it.”
A spokesman for Oregon Bach Festival, said: “The University considers many factors when deciding whether to continue a contract.  Regarding Reggie Mobley, it doesn’t appear he was involved in the University’s decision. Having said that, it would be inappropriate for the University to disclose details about a personnel matter.” One would have hoped that one of the factors that would be considered is the victim’s account.  One can only hope that the Oregon Bach Festivals sense of music is better than their sense of humor.

68 thoughts on “Oregon Festival Fires Conductor For Using Southern Accent In Joke With Black Friend In Orchestra”

  1. http://registerguard.com/rg/opinion/35936573-78/bach-festival-firing-raises-troubling-questions.html.csp

    “Matthew Halls has been fired, leaving the Oregon Bach Festival without an artistic director. That’s about all we know for sure at this point, and that’s too bad for everyone involved — including thousands of local supporters, whose pride in the festival is both deep and deserved.

    “Without the Oregon Bach Festival, Eugene can be caricatured as a hippie town devoted to football. We know our story is more complex than tie-dye and Nike, but outsiders need help to see our other sides. Winning a Grammy didn’t hurt.

    “News of Halls’ dismissal broke after a Sunday morning phone call between the conductor and local arts reporter Bob Keefer, who covered the Bach Festival for this newspaper and now as arts editor for Eugene Weekly. News of the parting has ricocheted around the Internet. If that was all, this column wouldn’t be necessary — but that’s not all.

    “News of Halls’ departure is being mixed with all sorts of speculation about what caused such an abrupt move. Halls claims he doesn’t know why he was fired. The festival’s advisory board was not told until after Halls had been terminated. So far, the University of Oregon has been tight-lipped not only about why, but even about who made the decision.

    “When how much we care outstrips how much we know, we find ways to match the two. Rumors and innuendo fill the gap. Conspiracy theories breed in the darkness of not knowing.

    “Was Halls kicked to the curb because ticket sales slid after Helmuth Rilling retired? Was he shown the door because of a racially insensitive remark that he made during a public reception? Was he victim of a power struggle within the festival, or with the university’s administration?

    “The Bach Festival only made things worse, with a ham-handed press release that awkwardly acknowledged that Halls had been fired. The release announced that the festival “is moving forward in an exciting direction. ” So-called “guest-curators” will replace the artistic director.” (Excerpt)

    1. “that’s too bad for everyone involved — including thousands of local supporters, whose pride in the festival is both deep and deserved.”

      In the end that is what PC brings us ” too bad for everyone” so does the restriction of speech by violent criminals who belong in jail.

  2. Yet another over-sensitive over reaction (in place of real racial reconciliation and acceptance of diversity) – and it has gone way too far and feeds resentment on all sides.

    Stuff your “tender feelings”- let people speak for themselves!

  3. I wonder if the “jive lady” aka Barbara Billingsly, from the movie Airplane, would get pilloried today?

  4. Oregon, which makes it’s living selling drugs and acting as Caliornias most northern county – a bedroom community for the Californicaters to be exact. Does what it is told to do by their owners. I’m surprised they haven’t rewritten Shakespeare down at Ashland Oregons Shakespeare Festival featuring a recreation of London’s Globe Theatre. After all one of Shakespeares most memorable quotes of his many ‘earthy’ creations was “Woman’s best dress, undress.” No doubt Californicaters would demand that changed to Women’s Best Dress….Fredericks.’ Another state that spent and taxed itself into poverty and now has it’s hand out. Once you have seen Crater Lake. the rest has not much to recommend except an annual selection of their third second largest export – High School Seniors. Some of whom can actually count and spell.. A little. .

  5. CV Brown – well that is unusual, but I have had it refuse to post comments, for no particular reason. I just move on.

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