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The Great French Organ Tradition with Paul Jacobs

June 5, 2019 | By Allison Abbott
Publicity Associate, Hemsing Associates

Mr. Jacobs to Undertake Recital Series at Juilliard’s Paul Hall, the Church of St. Mary the Virgin,
& St. Ignatius Loyola Three Tuesdays in September – 9/10, 9/17, & 9/24, 2019

Programs Include Works from the Romantic, Modern, and Contemporary Eras

Grammy Award-winning American organist Paul Jacobs—deemed “a grand New York institution” by James R. Oestreich of The New York Times (February 18, 2018)— will launch the fall season by highlighting the organ on the New York concert scene, performing in a three-recital series for solo organ in September 2019. Although months in the planning, these French programs assumed new meaning the night of April 15 to 16, 2019, when the Grand Organ of Notre-Dame Cathedral survived the devastating inferno in Paris.

The series will give New Yorkers the rare opportunity to hear this master organist on three important New York instruments: on the Holtkamp organ in the Juilliard School’s Paul Recital Hall, September 10; the 1933 Aeolian-Skinner “Opus 891” at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin September 17; and St. Ignatius Loyola’s 1993 Mander Organ, September 24. All three concerts take place Tuesday evenings at 7:30 p.m.  For the complete program, please see pg. 2.

Tickets for each performance will be $20, available for purchase individually through each venue: The Juilliard School’s Janet and Leonard Kramer Box Office, The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, and St. Ignatius Loyola Church’s Sacred Music in a Sacred Space.

"The French have always been rightly proud of their organ music,” says Mr. Jacobs. “The culture has produced scores of excellent composers and virtuoso performers, not to mention masterpieces like Messiaen's Messe de la Pentecôte, Duruflé's Suite, and Vierne's Sixth Organ Symphony, to name but a few. In constructing these particular programs, I wanted to offer, here in New York, a glimpse of this tradition over the past 200 years, including the familiar with the exotic, the profane with the sacred, the intimate with the sublime.”

The series opens at Paul Hall September 10th, and a highlight of that program will include the US premiere of Naji Hakim’s Tanets, inspired by the rhythm of the Basque fandango. The piece, in three parts, develops a joyful theme in a perpetuum mobile of sixteenth notes, in a tonal game of modulation. On September 17th, at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Mr. Jacobs will perform the music of Jean Guillou, who died earlier this year at age 88. This is the venue where Mr. Jacobs performed the complete organ works of Messiaen in 2004, and subsequently recorded the composer’s Livre du Saint-Sacrement, earning him a 2011 GRAMMY Award. The series concludes on September 24th, at St. Ignatius Loyola with Louis Vierne’s sixth and final Organ Symphony, Op. 59. Vierne was organist of Notre-Dame from 1900 to 1937, where he died high up in the gallery at the organ console during a performance.



Tuesday evening, September 10, 2019, 7:30 pm, Paul Recital Hall at The Juilliard School,155 W 65th St, NYC 10023

Marcel Dupré (1886-1971): Variations sur un Noël, Op. 20

Nadia Boulanger (1887-1979): Trois Pièces pour orgue
                                                I. Prélude
                                                II. Petit Canon
                                                III. Improvisation 

César Franck (1822-1890): Pièce Héroïque

Jehan Alain (1911-1940): Le jardin suspendu

Naji Hakim (b. 1955): Tanets

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921): Le Cygne

Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911): Sonata No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 42
                                                     I. Introduction-Allegro
                                                     II. Pastorale
                                                     III. Finale

Tuesday evening, September 17, 2019, at 7:30 pm, The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, 145 W 46th St, NYC 10036

Jean Langlais (1907-1991): « Acclamations Carolingiennes » from Suite Médiévale, Op. 56

Olivier Messiaen  (1908-1992): Messe de la Pentecôte
                                                 I. Les langues de feu—The tongues of fire
                                                 II. Les choses visibles et invisibles—Things visible and
                                                 III. Le don de Sagesse—The gift of wisdom
                                                 IV. Les oiseaux et les sources—The birds and the fountains
                                                 V. Le vent de l'Esprit—The wind of the Spirit

Henri Mulet (1878-1967): « Rosace » from Esquisses Byzantine

Jean Guillou (1930-2019): Saga No. 4, Op. 20 

Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986): Suite, Op. 5
                                               I. Prélude
                                               II. Sicilienne
                                               III. Toccata

Tuesday evening, September 24, 2019, at 7:30 pm, St. Ignatius Loyola Church, 980 Park Ave, NYC 10028

Léon Boëllmann (1862-1897): Suite Gothique, Op. 25
                                               Prière à Notre Dame

Thierry Escaich (b. 1965): « Eaux natales » from Poèmes pour orgue

Jeanne Demessieux (1921-1968): Twelve Preludes on Gregorian Themes
                                                     Tu Es Petrus – Marcia
                                                     Adeste Fideles – Musette
                                                     O Filii – Variations 

Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937): “Andante Sostenuto” from Symphonie Gothique, Op. 70

Louis Vierne (1870-1937): Symphonie in B Minor, Op. 59


Heralded as “one of the major musicians of our time” by Alex Ross of The New Yorker and as “America’s leading organ performer” by The Economist, the internationally celebrated organist Paul Jacobs combines a probing intellect and extraordinary technical mastery with an unusually large repertoire, both old and new. An eloquent champion of his instrument, Mr. Jacobs is known for his imaginative interpretations and charismatic stage presence. He has performed to great critical acclaim on five continents and in each of the fifty United States and is the only organist ever to have won a GRAMMY Award.

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, Bernd Richard Deutsch, John Harbison, 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.

No other organist is repeatedly invited as soloist to perform with prestigious orchestras, thus making him a pioneer in the movement for the revival of symphonic music featuring the organ. Mr. Jacobs regularly appears with the Chicago Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, Nashville Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Symphony, Phoenix Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Toledo Symphony, and Utah Symphony, among others.

His recital engagements have included performances under the aegis of the American Guild of Organists, Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Cleveland Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center White Light Festival, Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall, Madison Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Oregon Bach Festival, San Francisco Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, and the St. Louis Cathedral-Basilica, among others.

Mr. Jacobs gave the world premiere of Christopher Rouse’s Organ Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; all three orchestras co-commissioned the work.  With the Toledo Symphony, he has performed Michael Daugherty’s Once Upon a Castle, a work he recorded in 2015 with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra which was released by Naxos in September 2016, and awarded three Grammys, including Best Classical Compendium.

In the 2019-2020 season Mr. Jacobs will perform the Daugherty work with the Philadelphia Orchestra and conductor Donald Runnicles and with the Kansas City Symphony and conductor Jason Seber. In November 2019, Mr. Jacobs will join the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and conductor Giancarlo Guerrero for performances of Horatio Parker’s Organ Concerto in E-flat minor, Op. 55; this work will be recorded live for the Naxos label. Mr. Jacobs will collaborate with Maestro Guerrero twice more this season in Europe: they will perform Stephen Paulus’s Grand Concerto for Organ and Orchestra with the Bamberg Symphony, broadcast on Bayerischer Rundfunk Radio in April 2020; they then travel to Wroclaw, Poland for a program with NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra in May 2020. With the Utah Symphony and conductor Thierry Fischer, Mr. Jacobs will perform Barber’s Toccata Festiva and Handel’s Organ Concerto No. 13 in F Major, “Cuckoo & the Nightingale,” in April 2020.

In May 2020, Mr. Jacobs will inaugurate the newly restored Hazel Wright organ at the Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, as part of the opening festivities under the aegis of the American Guild of Organists Orange County Chapter and the Catholic Diocese of Orange County. Additional recitals during the 2019-20 season include appearances at Davies Hall under the auspices of the San Francisco Symphony, Spivey Hall, near Atlanta, at Clayton State University, Dallas’s Highland Park United Methodist Church, and the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. Mr. Jacobs continues as Director of the Oregon Bach Festival Organ Institute, a position he assumed in the summer of 2014. Soon to be released will be Barber’s Toccata Festiva with the Lucerne Symphony and conductor James Gaffigan on the Harmonia Mundi label. Mr. Jacobs will close out his 2019-2020 season on June 17, 2020, with a Paris recital at the Maison de la Radio, presented by Radio France and the Orchestre National de France, to be broadcast live from the station’s headquarters. The program will include a world premiere of a new work written for Mr. Jacobs by the French composer Jean-Baptiste Robin.

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. After another successful guest engagement with the Philadelphia Orchestra at Philadelphia’s Verizon Hall performing both Oquin’s Resilience, for organ and orchestra, and James MacMillan’s A Scotch Bestiary, Mr. Jacobs was invited by Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin to tour three major European cities with the Philadelphia Orchestra in May 2018. He played the Oquin work in Brussels, Luxembourg, and in Hamburg’s recently inaugurated Elbphilharmonie.

Mr. Jacobs and soprano Christine Brewer recorded a CD for Naxos entitled Divine Redeemer, featuring works by Bach, Handel, Franck, Nadia and Lili Boulanger, Puccini, Gounod, and Reger. They performed excerpts from this recording at Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival, which received a glowing review from Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim of The New York Times:

Seated at the console was the organist Paul Jacobs, a virtuoso of dazzling technical acumen, who anchored this recital of devotional music as part of the Lincoln Center White Light Festival. […]
Mr. Jacobs showed off his mastery in a handful of solo selections by Bach, Reger, Charles-Marie Widor and Nadia Boulanger, Lili’s sister. In Reger’s Toccata and Fugue, he built up a wonderfully organic crescendo in which the music expanded in all dimensions — brightness, clarity and volume — until it filled the room with a pulsating, radiant cloud of sound. — November 3, 2015, The New York Times

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. In addition to his highly esteemed recordings of Messiaen and Daugherty on Naxos, Mr. Jacobs has recorded organ concertos 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. In 2017 he received an honorary doctorate from Washington and Jefferson College.

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