Paul Jacobs, among today’s foremost organists, will reach a geographic milestone on Sunday, November 8. When he plays the final notes of Liszt’s Fantasy and Fugue on "Ad nos, ad salutarem undam” in a 4 p.m. concert at St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church in Anchorage, Alaska, Mr. Jacobs will have played before audiences in every one of America’s 50 states. He will have accomplished this feat in a span of just nine years, dating from his historic performance of the complete organ works of J.S. Bach in an 18-hour marathon on July 28, 2000, the 250th anniversary of the death of the great German composer.
"A unique joy of being a concert organist,” says Mr. Jacobs, “is that the work not only carries me to well-known venues in major cities, but also to artistically rich small towns and communities. Many of the most sensitive, sophisticated audiences for whom I've had the pleasure of performing have been from these more secluded parts of the country. For instance, I'll never forget the electricity in the air at the cathedral in Helena , Montana , this past year. Over 1,000 people, of all ages, filled the great space in anticipation of hearing music aimed to stir the soul. From these experiences I've learned that all sorts of people from all walks of life crave beauty, and desire encounters with those human beings who wish to share it with them."
Mr. Jacobs arrives in Anchorage directly from St. Petersburg , Russia , where from November 1 to 4 he will be the only U.S. judge at the First International Organ Braudo-Competition and Festival. He opened the 2009-10 season in New York with a performance of J.S. Bach’s challenging Six Trio Sonatas at The Juilliard School, where the 32-year-old organist has been chairman of the organ department since 2004, and later this season he will once again be presented by the San Francisco Symphony, the Pacific Symphony in Orange County, and the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia.
In January, Naxos will issue the digital release of Mr. Jacobs’s recording of Olivier Messiaen’s magnum opus, Livre du Saint Sacrement, performed at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York City . It will be available in January for download from www.classicsonline.com. The CD is scheduled for release in fall 2010. Mr. Jacobs is well known for his devotion to the music of Messiaen and has performed the composer’s complete organ works in a series of nine-hour marathons in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D. C.
Mr. Jacobs possesses a vast repertoire spanning from the 16th century through contemporary times, including several works written for him by Samuel Adler and Christopher Theofanidis, among others. He began studying the piano at the age of six, the organ at age 13, and two years after, 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 and later, at Yale University.
Among his many awards and honors was the first prize in the 1998 Albert Schweitzer National Organ Competition. He was the first organist ever to be honored with the Harvard Musical Association’s Arthur W. Foote Award, and was named the recipient of Juilliard’s 2007 William Schuman Scholar’s Chair. Mr. Jacobs has been heard on American Public Media’s Pipedreams, Performance Today, and Saint Paul Sunday; NPR’s Morning Edition; and on Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power from the Crystal Cathedral.