SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP — Three days of music were celebrated at the Lakeside Performing Arts Center at Lakeside High School this past weekend.
The Lakeside Society for the Performing Arts and the Ashtabula County Choral Music Society presented a weekend with keyboard virtuoso Jared Jacobsen, who performed an organ recital on Friday, with choirs on Saturday and delivered a piano recital and master piano class on Sunday.
Jacobsen is a keyboard instructor in La Jolla, California and is the organist and choir director at the Chautauqua, New York summer festival season. This is his fourth time at a Lakeside Society for the Performing Arts weekend of music.
“We had a good crowd for the organ recital on Friday,” he said. “I played the Lakeside High School’s organ, which is a huge Kimball Pipe Organ that was used to accompany silent films in the 1920s.”
He said the organ was one of the largest and best of its kind still in existence. It was bought and restored by Bud Hill of Ashtabula, who donated it to Lakeside High School for community concert use.
“It’s the Rolls Royce of pipe organs,” said Jacobsen. “It sounds amazing in this auditorium, where the acoustics are so spectacular. The organ is one of the largest of its kind and has a separate keyboard with 15 different special effects.”
He said the pipe organ makes a “wonderful sound that fills the entire room.” He said the Lakeside Center for the Performing Arts was the perfect venue for the organ recital performed on Friday. He said the Friday performance consisted of a lesson in how the pipe organ works and performances of works by Borodin, Leonard Bernstein, Kreisler, Ryder, P.D.Q. Bach and Franz Liszt.
“On Saturday for the choral show, we had over 100 people on stage and more in the audience,” he said. “Three choirs performed — the Ashtabula County Choral Music Society, the Geneva High School Advanced Choir and the Stambaugh Chorus from Youngstown, along with a special “Voices” Festival Choir with members of all the choirs singing.”
He said Sunday was a master class day, with over 30 piano students learning directly from Jacobsen. Students from the studios of Nat Askerova, Alix Hill, Sharan Huskey and Sherry Martin participated in the master class, with Jacobsen serving as the guest mentor and class master.
“I’m astonished by the high level of teaching here,” Jacobsen. “It’s very exciting to see. Someone took me under their wing when I first started playing and it kept me interested. That’s why I help with it here. It’s like paying back.”
He said he encouraged young students because live music is a unique experience nowadays.
Kathleen Milford, Artistic Director of the Ashtabula County Choral Music Society, said over 100 singers performed on Saturday, with a couple hundred in the audience.
“Then on Saturday we had a performance featuring three separate choirs and one with members of each choir,” she said, “Jared worked with everyone before the performances. He’s not only a great performer, but also a great teacher.”
Bud Hill, president of the Lakeside Performing Arts Society said he donated the Kimball organ, which he bought in Illinois, three years ago.
“We donated and installed it,” he said. “We added some sounds and expanded its usability. It’s now used at Christmas and to accompany silent films, which is what it was originally used for back in 1925. It’s been a great addition to the Lakeside Performing Arts Center — especially when it’s in the hands of a virtuoso like Jared Jacobsen.”
Sharan Huskey, a piano teacher from Conneaut, said Jacobsen’s performances and master classes were invaluable teaching lessons.
“This is my fourth year at this event and Jared Jacobsen has been a great encouragement to my students,” she said. “We learn from his performances and look forward to his master classes every year.”