Tallman Tracker Organ Recital to Extend Independence Day Celebration

The Tallman Tracker Organ sits at the heart of the Hall of Christ.


Organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music Jared Jacobsen said Chautauquans like to “pig out” on America during Fourth of July weekend, and he plans to contribute to their feast.

At 12:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Hall of Christ, Jacobsen will perform his weekly Tallman Tracker Organ Recital. Themed “Picnic Leftovers,” the concert will feature what he calls “leftover tidbits” of American music, showcasing various styles of American tunes. Due to a venue conflict, there will be no Massey Memorial Organ recital this week.

Jacobsen said the organ is the “ultimate gadget,” and Chautauqua’s American-made Tallman Organ is a good representation of American ingenuity.

“The organ was the centerpiece of the World’s Fair, because that really was the summing up of everything: your engineering, ingenuity and your craftsmanship, and also that you can bend all of this to create an instrument that somebody else can use to make music,” Jacobsen said. “So even though the Tallman Organ is kind of small, it still comes out of that core, American industrial revolution idea.”

The paramount piece of “Picnic Leftovers” is a set of “Variations on ‘America,’ ” the most famous of which was composed by Charles Ives. Jacobsen enjoys playing this tune because Chautauquans will recognize it and hear the musical styles change throughout the piece.

Some of the recital’s other pieces will include a set of “Variations on ‘Yankee Doodle’ ” by Dennis Janzer, “Dew Drops” by Firmin Swinnen and “Lotus Blossom” by Billy Strayhorn, a former member of jazz legend Duke Ellington’s orchestra.

Jacobsen said “lotus land” was an Eastern expression used to reference a far away place within the imagination. He said after Strayhorn died, Ellington would play “Lotus Blossom” at all his concerts in remembrance of his former pianist.

“Lotus [Blossom] is an interesting link in American music between the popular and the serious and between the nostalgic and the whimsical,” Jacobsen said.

Today’s Tallman Organ recital will extend Chautauqua’s Fourth of July celebration an extra day.

“Every piece in this program for the Tallman has some gravity to it, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s just music I like, and music I like playing,” Jacobsen said. “[It’s] music that is suitable on this little American organ built by two American guys in a small American town on the Hudson River.”

Madison Rossi

The author Madison Rossi

Hailing from Chicago, Madison Rossi is the 2016 Interfaith Lecture preview reporter. She is a class of 2018 journalism major at Northwestern University with minors in marketing and religious studies.