Paul Jacobs, Artist-in-Residence



Paul Jacobs made musical history at the age of 23 when, on the 250th anniversary of the death of J. S. Bach in 2000, he played the composer’s complete organ music in an 18-hour non-stop marathon in Pittsburgh.  Today, Mr. Jacobs, hailed for his solid musicianship, prodigious technique and vivid interpretive imagination in performances throughout the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia, is widely acknowledged for reinvigorating the American organ scene with a fresh performance style and “an unbridled joy of music-making” (Baltimore Sun).  In 2003 Mr. Jacobs was invited to join the faculty of The Juilliard School , and the following year, he was named chairman of the organ department, one of the youngest faculty appointments in Juilliard’s history. 

Known for his “charismatic showmanship and unflagging exuberance” (Wall Street Journal), Mr. Jacobs possesses a vast repertoire spanning from the 16th century through contemporary times.  He has performed the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen in a series of nine-hour marathons in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C., Chicago, where the Chicago Tribune called him “one of the most supremely gifted young organists of his generation,” and in New York, where The New York Times praised his “supple technique and vivid interpretive imagination.” 

Following his debut at the Grand Teton Music Festival, Mr. Jacobs is embarking on a particularly noteworthy 2008-09 season, highlighted by debut performances with The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, the San Francisco Symphony led by Yan Pascal Tortelier, the Phoenix  Symphony conducted by Michael Christie, and the opening concerts of the Pacific Symphony’s new season with Mr. Jacobs dedicating the new Fisk organ at Segerstrom Concert Hall in a concert highlighted by world premiere of a new work for organ, brass, and percussion commissioned by the orchestra from Masterprize and Grammy Award-winner Christopher Theofanidis.

He reintroduced an unpublished prelude and fugue by Samuel Barber, performed only once in 1928, in performances in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and in San Francisco, where he was presented by the San Francisco Symphony as part of their celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the orchestra’s Ruffatti organ.  On December 10, 2008, the 100th birthday of Olivier Messiaen, Mr. Jacobs marked the occasion with the composer’s Livre du Saint Sacrement in Woolsey Hall at Yale University , Mr. Jacobs’s alma mater.

Highlights of Mr. Jacobs’s most recent season included performances throughout North America, including several in New York City:  His performance of Olivier Messiaen’s 1984 magnum opus Livre du Saint Sacrement at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Times Square, was named by New York magazine as one of New York’s 10 best classical performances of 2007.  This was the concluding event of three activities he presented as the recipient of Juilliard’s 2007 William Schuman Scholar’s Chair.  He was also tapped by Juilliard for the conservatory’s fifth annual Jerome L. Greene concert, a series honoring the memory and legacy of one of Juilliard’s staunchest supporters and dedicated exclusively to the performance of 17th- and early 18th-century music and recently dedicated New York’s first Schoenstein organ at Christ and St. Stephen’s Church on Manhattan’s West Side, where Mr. Jacobs is the artist in residence.

Paul Jacobs began studying the piano at the age of six and the organ at age 13.  At 15 he was appointed head organist of a parish of 3,500 families in his hometown of Washington, Pennsylvania.  Mr. Jacobs studied at The Curtis Institute of Music , where he double-majored in organ with John Weaver and harpsichord with Lionel Party. At Yale University, where Mr. Jacobs subsequently studied organ with Thomas Murray, he received a Master of Music degree and Artist Diploma and was awarded several honors, including the Dean’s Prize, the Faculty Prize of the Institute of Sacred Music, and Yale School of Music’s Distinguished Alumni Award.  Most recently, Mr. Jacobs was invited to join the Yale University Council Committee on the School of Music by University President Richard Levin.

Mr. Jacobs has captured first prize in numerous competitions, including the 1998 Albert Schweitzer National Organ Competition and is the first organist ever to be honored with the Harvard Musical Association’s Arthur W. Foote Award.

In addition to concert appearances and teaching, Mr. Jacobs has been a featured performer at national and regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists and performs frequently at festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad.  He has appeared on American Public Media’s “Pipedreams” and “Saint Paul Sunday,” Bavarian Radio, Brazilian Arts Television, ABC-TV’s World News Tonight, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, NPR’s Morning Edition, and CBC Radio

Mr. Jacobs website is:

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