(1:05 PM) Chautauqua Institution Mourning Loss Of Longtime Organist

P-J file photo by Jordan W. Patterson

CHAUTAUQUA — The longtime organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music at Chautauqua Institution has died following a car crash Tuesday afternoon in Ohio.

Chautauqua Institution officials confirmed the death of Jared Jacobsen, 70. The crash took place on Route 84 near Geneva, Ohio.

In a statement, Chautauqua Institution President Michael E. Hill said:

“While we await formal word of Jared’s wishes, we know our community is grieving this unspeakable loss. Many have described Jared and the music he masterfully created with the iconic Massey Memorial Organ at the Chautauqua Amphitheater as the “heart and soul” of Chautauqua. This sentiment speaks not only to Jared’s talent, but of his ever-presence during our summer assembly season, his untiring love for music, and his generous willingness to share his passions with Chautauquans across generations. His music ushered in each day, heralded the noontime and afternoon hours, and closed each Sunday evening of the summer assembly, keeping the time of a timeless community.

“He played his final service and concert on Sunday, August 25 — a service he curated and titled “Camp Meeting is Over.”

Jacobsen graduated from Girard High School in 1967. He was born in New Castle, Pa., in 1949.

According to his biography on the Girard School District Foundation’s website, Jacobsen began his musical career at the age of 5 as a piano student at Chautauqua Institution and has returned every year since.

Jacobsen began his church music career at the age of 13 as organist for the Grace Episcopal Chapel in Fairview, Pa.

He was the primary operator and guardian of the 112-year-old Massey Memorial Organ of four manuals and 5,640 pipes, located in the Amphitheater, which is the centerpiece of Chautauqua’s programming. He also shepherded the 50-voice Motet Choir for daily worship services and the 150- voice Chautauqua Choir for Sunday morning and evening worship, played weekly recitals on the Massey and the 1893 Tallman mechanical-action organ in the Hall of Christ, and appeared frequently as soloist with the Chautauqua Symphony and Music School Festival Orchestras.

When not at Chautauqua during the summer months, Jacobsen served as director of music for First Lutheran Church in downtown San Diego, and as a member of the performing arts faculty of The Bishop’s School, an independent college-preparatory middle and high school in La Jolla, California.


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