Tallman Tracker Organ recital to commemorate American spirit, sacrifice


To continue the Fourth of July festivities this week, the Tallman Tracker Organ recital will deliver an upbeat performance to keep up with the bustling celebration.

At 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, July 3 in the Hall of Christ, Jared Jacobsen will present “Yankee Doodle Comes to Town,” a performance that celebrates American progress and Chautauquan spirit.

“It’s as far as you can imagine from the Baptist Church music that little organ in the Hall of Christ was meant to reproduce,” said Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music. “But the magic of it is the two brothers that built it had no idea they were building an instrument that could play just about anything, including Yankee Doodle variations.”

The set includes George Gershwin’s “Novelette in Fourths,” which Jacobsen deems an “important piece in music history.” Gershwin, a famous American composer, is known for his musical arrangements “Rhapsody in Blue” and “An American in Paris.” In 1925, the young composer spent a summer at Chautauqua writing Piano Concerto in F in one of the practice shacks. Years later, when Jacobsen first learned to play the piano, he practiced in the very shack where Gershwin composed.

The recital also includes “Chautauqua, I Love You,” an ode to the grounds written by Chautauquan Mary Ritts. Ritts was a late friend of Jacobsen and spent many seasons at the Institution, finding her niche in the Chautauqua Women’s Club.

“It’s an important piece to Chautauqua,” Jacobsen said. “She wrote in response to having grown up here, burying a husband here and seeing her grandson born here.”

As an ode to Americans who have fought for freedom, the concert will conclude with an “Armed Forces Salute.” Jacobsen finds it vital to commemorate the American spirit, which he said encompasses citizens both living and dead who have sacrificed for their country.

“There will be people in the audience who represent, either directly or by family, all five of the branches of military,” he said. “This will celebrate who these people are. It’s not just the fighters, it’s the mess cooks and the nurses and doctors, and the people who welcomed them home, and the people who tied ribbons around their trees.”

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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.