Power, purpose of comedy to be captured in week’s Tallman Tracker recital


As someone who has played and studied classical music since age five, Jared Jacobsen knows how serious his craft can be. But he also knows how important it is to unwind, especially during a hot Chautauqua summer.

“When you go to a basic concert of just about anything, a lot of it is taken so terribly serious,” said Jacobsen, the Institution’s organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music. “So I’ve amassed a whole drawer of music that doesn’t take itself so seriously.”

At 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, July 10 in the Hall of Christ, Jacobsen will perform “Lighten Up a Little!,” a set of playful songs with a single motive: to make people smile.

The Tallman Tracker Organ recital kicks off with “Pop Goes the Weasel,” a quick and classic piece arranged by Fred Feibel. Jacobsen will follow this up with “Graceful Ghost Rag,” a ragtime piece by Michigan composer William Bolcom.

When Bolcom wrote the piece, he was inspired by the spirits of Halloween.

“His whole notion was an image of maybe an elderly couple, and maybe she had a wheelchair and he had a walker, … but now they’re ghosts and that’s not a problem anymore,” Jacobsen said. “So when you play the music, it feels like these spirits just wafting around without a care in the world.”

In order to truly capture the comedic theme, Jacobsen found it vital to include a few pieces from musician Peter Schickele. Schickele is a four-time winner of the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album and the creator of the character P.D.Q. Bach, who is supposedly one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s sons.

“He goes around the world playing music that he has written, and he’s passing it off as music written by the last and the least of Bach’s sons, P.D.Q.,” Jacobsen said. “Peter Schickele takes on the persona of this with the powdered wig and the 18th-century clothes, and he writes these hysterical pieces for all kinds of people.”

Schickele’s character P.D.Q. has published several musical works, including the “Little Pickle Book.” The Tallman recital will include songs from this rare and historical publication.

“P.D.Q. Bach supposedly wrote this book that involved a musical pickle, and this is a newly discovered collection,” Jacobsen said. “These are all fun pieces that will work on  small organ.”

The performance will conclude with a scherzo from Louis Vierne’s Symphonie No. 2. Scherzo, the Italian word for “joke,” is a quick and light piece that composers often include in longer compositions to break up the music.

Tags : Hall of ChristJared JacobsenTallman Tracker Organ

The author Julie Ciotola

Julie Ciotola is reporting on the Interfaith Lecture Series and Sacred Song Services. She is an Akron, Ohio, native and studies journalism and history at Ohio University. Next year, she will serve as editor-in-chief for Backdrop Magazine, a student-run campus publication. This is her first time at Chautauqua. Contact her at or on Twitter.