Blue Devil of the Week: Playing the Pipes

Christopher Jacobson is the keeper of Duke University Chapel’s three pipe organs

Christopher Jacobson. Photo courtesy of Duke University Chapel
Christopher Jacobson. Photo courtesy of Duke University Chapel

“In a given week, about five percent of my time is making music at the organ, which shocks most people. I spend a lot of my time in meetings talking with people about music, planning for worship services, and planning for upcoming concerts. In addition to my work at Duke, I perform many recitals across the country.  I conduct the Evensong choir on Sunday afternoons at 4 p.m., plan their music for the whole year and teach the two organ scholars in weekly lessons. Time left for my own practice is very little, but I feel very fortunate to have practiced 8 to 10 hours a day in undergrad and grad school and learned many pieces. Now I can call on those when I need to.

With the Chapel reopening, we have a tremendous amount of musical events going on. 2016 was the 40th anniversary of the Flentrop organ that was put in the Chapel in 1976, so I’m performing the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach over the course of this academic year. The music of Bach represents, no matter what instrument you play, matchless musical beauty and integrity. It is the listener’s supreme delight and the organist’s great challenge. There are three world-class pipe organs in Duke Chapel, and there are few other places in the country that you can experience this variety of instruments under one roof.”

Christopher “Kit” Jacobson
Duke University Chapel organist
3 years at Duke

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