Monday, November 11, 2013

Organist Jacobs to Perform in Scarsdale

Paul Jacobs, who studied organ at Yale, will perform a concert at the Hitchcock Presbyterian Church in Scarsdale as part of the church's "Celebrate 100!" year-long program. (Felix Broede, Christina Wilton photos)

A New York Times reviewer called organist Paul Jacobs M.Mus. "a brilliant young organist and evangelist for the instrument."  The Washington Post's reviewer described his performances as "smooth, sinuous, flowing and tender." The Post reported, "Those are not adjectives always applied to organ playing, but they fit when Jacobs is the one doing it." Add the Chicago Tribune to the long list of reviewers with exceptional praise:  "One of the most supremely gifted organists of his generation."

And he went to Yale.  Jacobs studied organ under the distinguished organist and music professor Thomas Murray at its School of Music.

Westchester residents, Yale alumni and music devotees throughout the region will have a chance to experience for themselves Jacobs' "brilliance" and "sinuous, flowing" playing, when he performs on the Walker organ at the Hitchcock Presbyterian Church in Scarsdale, Sunday, Nov. 17 at 4 pm.

Tickets are available to the general public for $10 by calling the church to reserve at 914-723-3311. (The church is located at 6 Greenacres Ave., Scarsdale.) Some tickets may be available on the day of the concert at the door, although concert planners expect a sell-out.

John T. King  '85 M.Mus. is the church's Minister of Music. He is artistic director and conductor of the New Choral Society in Westchester, as well. He, too, has a Yale degree in organ (and a doctor of musical arts in organ from the Manhattan School of Music).

In the 2013-14 season, Jacobs will play elsewhere in recitals or concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and with the San Francisco Symphony. His season concludes next spring with concerts in Carnegie Hall in New York and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic next spring.

In Scarsdale, the event is the Margaret Manley Memorial Organ Concert, one of many highlights during the church's year-long 100th anniversary. 

Jacobs grew up in Washington, Pa.  After attending the Curtis Institute of Music, where he pursued degrees in organ and harpsichord, he went to Yale to study the organ under Murray.  He has been on the faculty at Julliard the past 10 years. When he was named chairman of Julliard's organ department in 2004, he was the youngest ever to have been appointed at that level.

Jacobs (right) and music minister John King '85 MMus (left)
He made history at 23, when he played the entire organ works of Bach in an 18-hour marathon on the 250th anniversary of the composer's death (in 2000).  In 2010, he played the first concert on the restored Kuhn organ at Alice Tully Hall. Also in 2010, he received a Grammy Award, Best Solo Instrumental, for his recording of the Messiaen Livre du Saint Sacrement. It was the first Grammy solo award for an organ performance. Earlier this year, Jacobs was featured on the release of a new album by the Pacific Symphony, "Mount Rushmore."

"His interpretive approach is clear and direct," a reviewer in California wrote in May of a West Coast performance. "Even measured, so that the music appears to unwind of its own accord, its own power."

Jacobs' teacher at Yale, Murray, continues as professor of music and university organist. He plays the Skinner organ at Woolsey Hall, considered one of the most important Romantic organs in the U.S. Both Jacobs and Murray played during the inaugural weekend for new Yale president Peter Salovey '86 Ph.d. in October.

At the Hitchcock Church, Jacobs will play in its digitally updated sanctuary, constructed after the church's 1986 fire and known for exceptional acoustics. He will play music from Bach, Mozart and Schumann. Concert-goers will be able to meet the artist in a reception after the performance.

The church has hosted many YWAA events over the years, including performances by the Yale Glee Club, the Yale Alumni Chorus, and a capella groups.

The concert, part of the church's "Celebrate 100!" program, will be the final event before its 100th Thanksgiving, 100th Advent, and 100th Christmastide. The church was founded in 1913 by a group of 19 who set up a portable chapel on the corner of Walworth Avenue and Fenimore Road in Scarsdale.

Merrell Clark '57 '70MAR and Lynne Clark have been co-chairs for programs and events marking the anniversary, including a festival weekend, a trip to Israel, a written history and DVD, and a commissioned hymn and anthem.

Click JACOBS to listen to and watch excerpts from recent Jacobs concerts.


The Hitchcock Presbyterian Church in Scarsdale has celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding with year-long events, which includes the Paul Jacobs organ concert, Nov. 17

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