Paul Jacobs to Lead Oregon Bach Festival's New Organ Institute, June 30-July 5, 2014

For its 2014 season, the Oregon Bach Festival has just announced the appointment of organist Paul Jacobs to lead a newly-created Organ Institute. It is arguably the first major festival to add a component devoted exclusively to the study and performance of the organ, which figured so prominently in the compositions and performance life of J. S. Bach.

Next year's Oregon Bach Festival will take place from June 25 - July 13, 2014 and within that time frame the Organ Institute is scheduled for June 30 - July 5, 2014. The Institute will offer organists the opportunity to immerse themselves in the art of organ playing, exploring technique and interpretation through specialized seminars. In preparation for a final public recital, participants will perform in daily master classes under the direction of Mr. Jacobs and Matthew Halls, the Oregon Bach Festival's Artistic Director, among others.

Mr. Jacobs is honored to be chosen for this prestigious appointment: "The Oregon Bach Festival should be praised for cultivating an appreciation for organ music. One could scarcely overestimate the significance of this new Institute, one which will further assist in exposing the joy of the organ to all lovers of music."

Immediately following Paul Jacobs's first engagement in the summer of 2013, the Oregon Bach Festival entered into discussion with Mr. Jacobs and set into motion the creation of an Organ Institute. The Institute will be open to both performing participants by recorded audition and to non-performing auditors.

An eloquent champion of his instrument, arguing that the organ for too long has been excluded from the mainstream of classical music, Paul Jacobs is known for his imaginative interpretations and charismatic stage presence. "Mr. Jacobs sees a future for organists in the broader realm of classical music," wrote The Economist (November 1, 2013). "He is in a good position to know. Now considered America's leading organ performer, he won the first-ever Grammy awarded to an organist in 2010. He is currently recording an album with Christine Brewer, a Wagnerian prima donna." Mr. Jacobs has been an important influence in the revival of symphonic music featuring the organ. In addition, Mr. Jacobs won a Grammy for the challenging "Livre du Saint- Sacrement" by Messiaen. Mr. Jacobs combines a probing intellect and extraordinary technical skills with a repertoire that spans the gamut of music written for his instrument, both old and new. He has transfixed audiences, colleagues, and critics with landmark performances of the complete works for solo organ by J.S. Bach as well as a vast array of other composers. A fierce advocate of new music, he has premiered the works of Samuel Adler, Mason Bates, Michael Daugherty, Wayne Oquin, Stephen Paulus, and Christopher Theofanidis, among others. As a teacher he has also been a vocal proponent of the redeeming nature of traditional and contemporary classical music, which he fears is being diluted in a popular culture.

In the 2013/14 season, Mr. Jacobs will appear as soloist with the Chicago Symphony under the baton of Charles Dutoit, having been described earlier by the Chicago Tribune as "one of the most supremely gifted organists of his generation." He will play solo recitals in Austin, TX, San Francisco, CA (presented by the San Francisco Symphony), Chicago, IL (presented by the Chicago Symphony), Memphis, TN, New Orleans, LA, and in Maryland, Georgia, New York, Oregon, Florida, Wisconsin, and at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. (presented by the National Symphony Orchestra.)

Another highlight of Mr. Jacobs's coming season is a concert at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall in April, where he will be performing Arvo Pa?rt's Passio with the vocal ensemble Tenet and other distinguished musicians in a cross-cultural exploration of the sacred in music. In May Mr. Jacobs will tackle Bach's virtuosic complete Clavier-U?bung III at Walt Disney Concert Hall presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

In the 2012/13 season, Mr. Jacobs was presented in recital by the San Francisco Symphony; he joined Michael Christie and the Phoenix Symphony for a week of performances featuring the world premiere of Stephen Paulus's Organ Concerto. He also performed with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, with an accompanying solo recital in the Segerstrom Concert Hall. He played Lou Harrison's Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra in Miami Beach with the New World Symphony and works by Bach, Elgar, and Boulanger for a Seattle Symphony recital. In addition to appearing in recital throughout the United States, he performed Alexandre Guilmant's Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, Op. 42, with the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra in Houston. Mr. Jacobs was featured at the Winspear Centre in Edmonton, Canada and at London's Westminster Cathedral for the 2012 Grand Organ Festival.

In previous seasons, Mr. Jacobs toured with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony with whom he performed Lou Harrison's Concerto for Organ with Percussion Orchestra and Mass Transmission, a new work by Mason Bates, in San Francisco, Ann Arbor, and in New York City at Carnegie Hall's Zankel Hall. At the newly opened Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, he was soloist with the Kansas City Symphony and Michael Stern and also performed a solo recital on the hall's new organ. He was presented in recital by the Pittsburgh Symphony and joined the Pacific Symphony in the world premiere of "The Gospel According to Sister Aimee," a new work for organ, brass, wind and percussion by Michael Daugherty. Mr. Jacobs collaborated with Maestro Tilson Thomas in performances of Copland's Organ Symphony with both the Chicago and San Francisco symphony orchestras, and appeared with the latter at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco and the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland. His San Francisco Symphony performance of the Copland Organ Symphony was recorded and released on the SFSO label. He performed Jana?c?ek's Glagolitic Mass with Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony and with James Conlon and the Cincinnati Symphony for the orchestra's acclaimed May Festival.

Mr. Jacobs made musical history at the age of 23 when he played J.S. Bach's complete organ works in an 18-hour marathon performance on the 250th anniversary of the composer's death. He has also performed the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen in marathon performances throughout North America, and recently reached the milestone of having performed in each of the fifty United States

Prodigiously talented from his earliest years, at 15 young Jacobs was appointed head organist of a parish of 3,500 in his hometown, Washington, Pennsylvania. He studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, double-majoring with John Weaver for the organ and Lionel Party for the harpsichord, and at Yale University with Thomas Murray. He joined the faculty of The Juilliard School in 2003, and was named chairman of the organ department in 2004, one of the youngest faculty appointees in the school's history. He received Juilliard's prestigious William Schuman Scholar's Chair in 2007.

In addition to his concert and teaching appearances, Mr. Jacobs is a frequent performer at festivals across the world, and has appeared on American Public Media's Performance Today, Pipedreams, and Saint Paul Sunday, as well as NPR's Morning Edition, and ABC-TV's World News Tonight.

Under the artistic leadership of Matthew Halls, the Grammy Award-winning Oregon Bach Festival celebrates the music and legacy of J.S. Bach. It presents three weeks of choral-orchestral masterworks, guest artists, chamber music, social events, and education programs. Based in Eugene, the University of Oregon event also produces the BachFest PDX series in Portland, with concerts in other cities and special events. Its blend of education, performance, and community attracts artists, audiences, and philanthropic partners from around the world. The Wall Street Journal ("one of the best of its kind"), Los Angeles Times ("virtually without equal"), and The Times-London ("pioneering") are among many media outlets to recognize the OBF's excellence.

Specializing in the great masterworks for chorus and orchestra, the Festival's concerts also include an annual organ recital series, which in recent seasons has featured artists such as Paul Jacobs, David Higgs, John Scott, ElRay Stewart Cook, Julia Brown, and Michael Kleinschmidt.

Founded in 1970 by Helmuth Rilling, a German choral conductor, and Royce Saltzman, a UO professor of music, the OBF is rooted firmly in education, with internationally renowned programs for conductors and high school singers, plus a wide range of opportunities for all ages and levels of experience-including a revolutionary online component, the Digital Bach Project. []

In 2014, the OBF begins a new era under the artistic leadership of young British conductor Matthew Halls, acclaimed for his dynamic work with major symphony orchestras and opera companies. His diverse musical passions, and the OBF's strong tradition of support, foretell a promising future of new levels of interest, engagement, and artistic achievement.

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Pictured: Organist Paul Jacobs. Photo by Christina Wilton.

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