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Grammy-Award Winning Organist Paul Jacobs to Give American Premiere of Deutsch’s Okeanos with Cleveland Orchestra, March 14-17, 2019

January 30, 2019 | By Allison Abbott
Publicity Associate, Hemsing Associates

Pioneer Organist Continues to Expand Organ Literature & Attract New Audiences To The Organ

Grammy Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs has been invited to appear as soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, to give the highly anticipated American premiere of Bernd Richard Deutsch’s Okeanos, Concerto for organ and orchestra. Performances are slated for Thursday evening, March 14, 2019 at 7:30 pm; Friday evening, March 15, 2019 at 8 pm; Saturday evening, March 16, 2019 at 8 pm; and Sunday afternoon,    March 17, 2019 at 3 pm at Severance Hall, 11001 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH  44106. The full program follows:

                    Joseph Haydn                         Symphony No. 34
                    Bernd Richard Deutsch          Okeanos Concerto for organ and orchestra


                    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky       Symphony No. 5

Tickets from $31 to $151 are available for purchase at  

Mr. Jacobs is most enthusiastic about the upcoming premiere: “This splendid contemporary organ concerto is one of the most challenging yet rewarding compositions that I've studied in this genre. A hefty 30-minute work, Okeanos reveals a mastery of writing for the pipe organ—an instrument with limitless expressive possibilities—and its interplay with the orchestra. Deutsch's music is alluring, mysterious, and sometimes terrifying.”    

The title, Okeanos, is derived from the name of the body of water thought by the ancient Greeks to surround the Earth. In Greek mythology Okeanos was the Titan who represented this body of water. When the work received its world premiere in Vienna in 2015, Die Presse wrote: “The temporal and formal proportions are determined by a precise structure…the association with water is expressed, in the first movement, by orchestral waves. Movements two, three, and four exhibit other characteristics for which the rest of the elements, air, earth, and fire, serve as the sources of ideas or symbols, respectively.”

No other organist alive today is repeatedly invited as soloist to perform with the country’s preeminent orchestras, thus making Mr. Jacobs a pioneer in the movement for the revival of symphonic music featuring the organ. Just last season Mr. Jacobs was twice invited to Severance Hall, first to perform Stephen Paulus’ Grand Concerto for Organ and Orchestra in November 2017 and then to collaborate on the orchestra’s Tristan project in April 2018.

Of Mr. Jacobs’ November 2017 performance, Zachary Lewis of The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote:

[The] star was organist Paul Jacobs…[who] proved a compelling champion. In a work in which the organ and orchestra are equals, he managed both to dovetail beautifully with his colleagues and to command attention when needed…

To the aptly labeled finale Jacobs brought all his considerable virtuosity and zeal to bear, delivering a sparkling performance, especially at the pedals, that thrilled in both visceral and artistic terms. Whatever breath the audience still possessed Paulus then quickly stole with a brilliant encore.

                                                                                        —November 27, 2017


The only organist ever to have won a Grammy Award—in 2011 for Messiaen’s towering “Livre du Saint-Sacrement”— Paul Jacobs combines a probing intellect and extraordinary technical skills with an unusually large repertoire, both old and new. An eloquent champion of his instrument who argues that the organ for too long has been excluded from the mainstream of classical music, Mr. Jacobs is known for his imaginative interpretations and charismatic stage presence. In addition to expanding the concerto repertoire for organ and orchestra by performing and commissioning new works, Mr. Jacobs also has created a new audience for organ music on several continents.

During the 2018-19 season, Mr. Jacobs continues to expand both his repertoire and international reach. He gave the world premiere of John Harbison’s What Do We Make of Bach? for organ and orchestra with the Minnesota Orchestra under conductor Osmo Vänskä in October 2018. November took Mr. Jacobs to Switzerland, where he performed and recorded Barber’s Toccata Festiva with the Lucerne Symphony Orchestra and conductor James Gaffigan. Mr. Jacobs will appear in recital under the auspices of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall, the American Guild of Organists at the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa, and the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park. Mr. Jacobs continues as Director of the Oregon Bach Festival Organ Institute, a position he assumed in the summer of 2014.

Mr. Jacobs has transfixed audiences, colleagues, and critics alike with landmark performances of the complete works for solo organ by J.S. Bach and Messiaen, as well as works by a vast array of other composers. Mr. Jacobs made musical history at the age of 23 when he played Bach’s complete organ works in an 18-hour marathon performance on the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death. A fierce advocate of new music, Mr. Jacobs has premiered works by Samuel Adler, Mason Bates, Michael Daugherty, Wayne Oquin, Stephen Paulus, Christopher Theofanidis, and Christopher Rouse, among others. As a teacher he has also been a vocal proponent of the redeeming nature of traditional and contemporary classical music.

Marking an important milestone for the development of organ playing in Asia, Mr. Jacobs participated in the 2017 launch of China’s first International Organ Competition—in Shanghai—when he was appointed to serve as president of the competition’s jury.  Mr. Jacobs frequently performs as soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Edmonton Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Nashville Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Lexington Philharmonic, and Utah Symphony. His recital engagements have included performances under the aegis of the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Hall, Kennedy Center, Cleveland Orchestra’s Tristan Project, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center at Alice Tully Hall, Sacramento, Tampa, Houston, Baylor University, Pittsburgh Symphony, Oregon Bach Festival, El Paso Pro Musica, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, and the St. Louis Cathedral-Basilica.

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 has performed the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen in marathon performances throughout North America, and reached the milestone of having performed in each of the fifty United States. In addition to his recordings of Messiaen and Daugherty on Naxos, Mr. Jacobs has recorded organ concerti by Lou Harrison and Aaron Copland with the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas on the orchestra’s own label, SFS Media.

Mr. Jacobs studied at the Curtis Institute of Music, double-majoring with John Weaver for organ and Lionel Party for 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, ABC-TV’s World News Tonight, and BBC Radio 3.

For more information, please contact Hemsing Associates at (212) 772 1132 or visit
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