Tallman Tracker Organ Show-and-Tell to Introduce ‘Music Box’

Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, practices for of the 2019 season. SARAH YENESEL/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Chautauqua Institution’s Organist and Coordinator of Worship and Sacred Music Jared Jacobsen will present the music and mechanics of the Tallman Tracker Organ at 12:15 p.m. today (June 25) in the Hall of Christ.

The program “Come Meet Our Music Box!” will showcase the different parts of the organ while giving attendees the chance to hear a piece of music.

“It’s going to be kind of like a ‘Tallman Organ for Dummies,’ ” Jacobsen said.

The music to be performed is Summer Fancies, Op. 38 No. 2, by late American composer and teacher Rossetter Gleason Cole.

It’s kind of a little piece that’s whimsical and charming,” Jacobsen said. “But it’s nice on a little organ that has cute sounds — and it really works over there.”

Cole’s connection to Chautauqua is thanks to George Gershwin, famed composer of “Rhapsody in Blue,” and a former student of Cole’s. Gershwin, who attended a music summer session taught by Cole, went on to compose the third movement of his Concerto in F while residing in Chautauqua.

The Tallman Organ was constructed in 1893, for the First Baptist Church in Nyack, New York. When the church no longer needed it, the Tallman Organ was gifted to Chautauqua on the conditions that the Institution “promise to use it faithfully, not alter it and keep it in an air-conditioned room year-round,” Jacobsen said.

He said the organ was taken apart and reassembled in Chautauqua in 2000, where it has been ever since.

“When we found out about it, I got my measuring tape out and wandered everywhere on the grounds, looking for a place to put it,” Jacobsen said. “I discovered that in the front of the Hall of Christ, on the front of the platform where a statue of Jesus Christ typically goes, there was exactly the right size and shape for a little mechanical action organ.”

Jacobsen called the organ “a testament to 1893 organ building.”

“It’s charming and wonderful to play the Tallman Organ,” he said.

But it’s also hard work.

“It’s hard work in the same way that it’s hard to park a car with power steering,” Jacobsen said.  “It’s hard to play it when you have all the stops on and you want a big sound. You can’t play as fast on it because you can’t push down the keys as quickly.”

The trade-off, according to Jacobsen, is that the history behind the organ influences its sound and harkens back to an earlier period of music.

“You are much closer to the way composers from the 19th century and earlier had the experience of playing the instrument,” Jacobsen said. “So when you play a little piece of music by Bach, you are as close to what Bach felt while playing an organ as you can be.”

Our resident organist Jared Jacobsen performed his first mini-concert of #CHQ2018 on the famous 1907 Massey Organ this afternoon. He began today’s concert with “Variations on America” by Charles Ives.

Posted by Chautauqua Institution on Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Tags : Jared Jacobsenmusic

The author Chris Clements

Chris Clements is reporting on literary arts during his third summer with The Chautauquan Daily. He has previously written previews for the Interfaith Lecture Series and Sacred Song Services and covered literary arts digitally in 2020. Chris is a second-year grad student at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he is a Master of Fine Arts candidate in creative writing, specializing in fiction. He’s passionate about all things related to literature, music and film, especially author David Foster Wallace, jazz singer Cecile McLorin Salvant and the films of Paul Thomas Anderson.