A big announcement was made recently that the people involved think is a positive change.
The Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society and Augusta University announced they are officially joining forces. The music society, which has been around for 28 years, now will be housed in the Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences.
The music society regularly brings to Augusta big names in chamber music, defined as music that is composed for and performed by small ensembles (usually five or fewer people).
“This partnership feels like a homecoming for the society’s namesake, Harry Jacobs,” Elna Green, dean of AU’s Pamplin College, said in a news release. “After all, he designed the university’s Maxwell Theatre, as well as served as the founding chair of the university’s Department of Music. Harry’s legacy continues to impact the quality of musical education we provide at Augusta University. Our actions today both honor that legacy and help to secure its future.”
Jacobs died in 2001, but his family is still involved in the music society. The society’s retiring Executive Director Quentin Kyper said several of Jacobs’ sons and daughters live in town, and the ones he’s spoken to are happy about the change.
“(His oldest daughter) has been a member of the society for as long as she’s been in town, and she’s very excited about it,” Kyper said. “We have one of Harry’s granddaughters, Erin Jacobs Dennis, who’s on the board of the society, and as a board member, she was very much in favor of the merger.”
Kyper explained why he thinks having world-class chamber music groups coming to Augusta is so important for the community.
“Chamber music is one of the greatest achievements of the artistic world,” he said. “Every major composer, every major classical music composer of the last 300 years has composed some of their best music for chamber music. We’re talking about Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky … they’ve all composed some of their greatest, most interesting most beautiful music for small ensembles.”
He emphasized that despite the change happening, the Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society is going to continue to offer the same type of program, with about six performances a year. He said what the society looks for is musicians who have played major venues like Carnegie Hall, or places in cities like Paris, Tokyo, London and San Francisco. They also look for winners and runners-up of major music competitions, like the Cleveland International Piano Competition.
The society will remain a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. It will benefit from the merger in that it will have full access to Augusta University’s facilities, including the marketing program, printing services and fundraising. The two entities already had a good relationship, as the society’s performances have been held at the Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre and already have been a part of AU’s Lyceum Series.
Kyper and his wife, Linda Banister, announced last year they were retiring from heading up the music society. They had been leading it for the past nine years.
“I think this is one of the greatest assets of the city of Augusta,” Kyper said. “It provides a very highly professional quality of music, and it’s music that you will not find anywhere else in the city. With the other things that are going on here, musical theater organizations and the symphony orchestra and jazz bands, and things like that — there’s a lot of really good ones in the city, but this is the main chamber music organization. … We’ve had major artists over the last 15, 20 years, and it’s a very impressive history.”
On tap for this coming season is a Baroque ensemble known as REBEL with Matthias Maute; the Dali String Quartet, which specializes in Latin American music; and Dinara Klinton, a Ukranian pianist who was a runner-up of the Cleveland International Piano Competition two years ago. Piano trio Trio con Brio Copenhagen will perform, and rounding out the series will be the Silk Road Ensemble, a group that started with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma at the helm. (Ma stepped away from the group once they were on the road and let them grow without him.)
Admission to the society’s events will remain the same — full-term membership, which includes access to a full season’s performances, is $150. General admission to each performance will continue to be $40 per person, and AU students, faculty and staff still will be able to get in free with a current ID. Students at other colleges and schools will get in for $5.
For more information, visit augusta.edu/harryjacobs .