Fifty-two years ago, Argentinian composer and organist Norberto Guinaldo wrote his “Suite for an Old Tracker Organ” as a way to honor his own two-manual tracker organ.
Now, Jared Jacobsen — Chautauqua’s organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music — will breathe new life into this obscure suite and honor the Tallman Tracker Organ at the same time.
At 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, July 16 in the Hall of Christ, Jacobsen will pay homage to Guinaldo’s suite and other musical pieces that were written for antique organs in the Tallman Tracker Organ Mini-Concert, “Suite for an Old Tracker Organ.”
“Guinaldo was born and educated in Argentina,” Jacobsen said. “Then he came to the United States, and earned a master’s degree at the University of California, Riverside. He settled in California in a suburb of Los Angeles called Garden Grove. He became the organist at the United Methodist of Garden Grove in 1965, and he’s been there ever since.”
According to Jacobsen, Guinaldo bought his tracker organ from an old church and put it in his living room to practice on.
“He was exploring music as a composer, and he had been trained in mid-19th century styles of music, both in Argentina and here,” Jacobsen said.
The suite is “spiky and angular,” according to Jacobsen, and doesn’t necessarily contain “hummable tunes.”
“But it is the kind of music people were writing around the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s,” he said. “So it’s not for everybody’s taste, but it’s worth hearing every now and then. He wrote this piece to be played on a little tracker organ, which is what we have in the Hall of Christ.”
To “sweeten the pot” for his prospective audience, Jacobsen will play other pieces written for historic instruments or in an antique style.
“One of these is a little English throw-away piece by a composer named Giles Farnaby,” he said. “He titled this piece ‘The New Sa-Hoo.’ Well, who could resist playing a piece called ‘The New Sa-Hoo’?”
Jacobsen said that piece was one of many included in a collection from the 1940s that focused on obscure music.
“It’s just two minutes of fluff,” Jacobsen said.
But the oddity in the concert will be a piece by the Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn, according to Jacobsen.
“You could build a small organ that was run by a clockwork mechanism, which was a big deal in the time of Haydn and Mozart,” he said. “Haydn was unable to resist a wealthy patron who came and said, ‘I have this gadget, a musical clock that sits on my table. And it would just be the bee’s knees if you could write me a piece for this, Mr. Haydn, because everybody knows you’re such a famous composer.’ ”
The smaller pieces to be featured in the concert, like Haydn’s and Farnaby’s, work well on the Tallman Organ, according to Jacobsen.
“Not only are we keeping the instrument alive,” he said, “but the instrument is keeping those interesting little corners of music alive, too.”