Dear friends and colleagues:
After 28 festivals in 26 years during which we welcomed over 7000 participants from 207 choirs, representing forty states and provinces, from six countries, on four continents, picfest 2023 was our final season.
As you may know, we dove back into the festival pool in 2022 with a shorter, commuter version of picfest. Sixty-five local singers marked our 25th Anniversary with Bob Chilcott conducting the premiere of his five-movement SATB piece Lightwaves. The euphoria of the experience was not simply because we were emerging from two years of COVID shuttering. The musicianship and passion of the singers and Bob’s conducting gave the postponed picfest commission a stunning premiere. Marking the milestone anniversary season with such intimate artistry was the perfect reboot for the road ahead. (We invite you to enjoy the performances of Lightwaves, Gloria, and an audience sing-along of Lift Every Voice.)
Consequently, we were startled when we started working on season 2023 to encounter so many unfamiliar challenges. Like supply chain problems everywhere, logistical and collaboration fractures during the time since our last residential festival in 2019 began popping up with increasing regularity.
The picfest model relies on three primary partners at UO. By January 2023, the cumulative post-COVID changes in personnel, policy, and vision of these university entities posed some significant challenges. We’ve always adapted to little shifts here and there in any given year, but this was a bit more tectonic in nature.
The Oregon Bach Festival is in the midst of an evolutionary step and the uncertainty of favorable terms previously enjoyed with UO services and use of space on campus nearly made the final season impossible. The obstacles and effort increased as we struggled to piece together essential program elements.
Bottom line: the festival that we have been able to present is no longer logistically or fiscally viable going forward. Therefore, 2023 was the last picfest season. After 2022’s mini-picfest, it was wonderful to conclude with one final full-festival experience.
Our 2023 festival, Turn the Music Up…One More Time!, welcomed eleven choirs from Pennsylvania, Georgia, California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia along with our conductors Susan Brumfield and Gary Packwood and guest composer William Linthicum-Blackhorse.
The story is not over. In the coming year, we will explore ways to direct 26 years of accrued administrative, collaborative, and creative expertise and capacity to the needs of local music educators.
We’ll also be curating stories, images, and recordings from 28 festivals from 1998 - 2023. You’re invited to send us any of your own favorites to include in periodic editions of picfest press – archives editions and The Festival Years menu on this website.
When we started on this adventure 26 years ago, we never could have imagined what a life changing experience it would be for so many people, including the singers, their directors and chaperones, our guest conductors and artists, the wonderful staff, board, and volunteers, and of course the three of us and our extended family. Our hearts are full of cherished memories and amazing moments from this quarter-century+ journey.
On behalf of the picfest Board & staff, thank you for being part of this magical, musical place called picfest.
Peter Robb, Genevieve Robb, and Rebecca Robb Hicks
Co-Founders of Pacific International Choral Festivals - picfest