Anniversary: Jacobsons Celebrate With Song
Many couples celebrate their golden wedding anniversary by taking a cruise, or renewing their vows, or by hosting a large party with friends and family.
However, Pinehurst residents Vivian and Ralph Jacobson have chosen to mark the important occasion in a completely different way by commissioning a piece of music, and sharing the premiere performance with guests and members of the Sandhills community.
Vivian Jacobson, who was a close personal friend and associate of the renowned 20th century artist, Marc Chagall, has attained a significant standing as a lecturer and authority on Chagall. Inspired by Chagall's message of hope, peace and reconciliation throughout the world and their combined love of music, the Jacobsons commissioned New York composer, conductor and pianist, Seth Weinstein, to create a musical tribute to the artist, and Vivian chose the title for the piece -- "The Chagall Suite."
The work will be presented at a special concert on Feb. 18, at 3 p.m. at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities in Southern Pines, with the composer at the piano.
"Weymouth has been such a vital part of our way of life since we moved to Pinehurst seventeen years ago, and music has always been such a predominant element in both our lives that it seemed only natural to have a piece of music especially composed for our 50th wedding anniversary celebration," says Vivian Jacobson.
The idea to spread Chagall's message of hope, peace and reconciliation has been the foundation of Vivian Jacobson's many lectures at universities, museums, synagogues and churches.
"Although that has proved to be an effective way of reaching people, I wanted to integrate music with my presentations," says Jacobson. "Consequently I first collaborated with Seth Weinstein two years ago when he wrote a piece of music titled 'Conversations' to illustrate a lecture I gave on the similarities of Marc Chagall and Elvis Presley."
That unique work for solo piano, joining the worlds of Elvis and Chagall, is an unusual blend of rock 'n' roll, jazz, gospel and blues with the klezmer, a musical form rooted in ancient Jewish culture,
Weinstein, who was recently represented on the New York stage as the composer of a critically acclaimed musical comedy, "How to Save the World and Find True Love in 90 Minutes," is a multi-talented musician and a graduate of Harvard University. His training includes many years of study of classical piano and study of theory and composition, as well as orchestral and choral conducting.
Explaining that there are eight different sections of "The Chagall Suite," Weinstein mentions that each segment reflects a different period or focus of the artist's work.
"The themes are intertwined to some extent," he says. "The opening section depicts the small town in Russia that was Chagall's birthplace. When he painted his home town, there is an essence of the daily life and Jewish ritual of evening prayer, but there is also a definite feeling of a higher spirituality in that the town was part of the larger universe. I tried to incorporate those impressions into my composition."
To help Weinstein begin the creative process, Vivian Jacobson provided him with folders for each section of the piece that contained representative examples of Chagall's art work, as well as excerpts of Chagall's notes on the subjects. She also made available to him videos and several books with reproductions of Chagall's masterpieces.
"After I became familiar with his work, little ideas started forming in my head, and a lot of composition took place in bed at night or during one of my therapeutic walks around New York City," says Weinstein. "I worked on the piece for several months."
Ralph Jacobson, who has served on the Weymouth music committee for a number of years, believes "The Chagall Suite" is an ingenious musical representation of the several themes of Chagall's work which it portrays.
An attorney, who graduated cum laude from New York University Law School, he recalls attending concerts at Carnegie Hall and other New York City venues during his student days, and developing a lifelong taste for good music of all styles from jazz to classical.
Regular subscribers to the North Carolina Symphony concerts in Pinehurst, the Jacobsons were in the audience in 2005 when the tone poem, "Sketches of Pinehurst," by Terry Mizesko was first performed.
When later they were planning how they wanted to observe their 50th wedding anniversary, the recollection of that composition provided the impetus for the decision to commission "The Chagall Suite."
Believing that "The Chagall Suite" has the potential for reaching out to people on a much broader scale, Vivian and Ralph Jacobson have begun talks with the North Carolina Symphony regarding the possibility of having the piece orchestrated.
And hopefully one day in the future it may even be included in the repertoire of the North Carolina Symphony.
In the meantime, Vivian and Ralph Jacobson say that the public is welcome to join them on Feb. 18, for the concert by Seth Weinstein at the Weymouth Center for the Arts and Humanities.
In addition to the world premiere of "The Chagall Suite," the program consists of sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven, as well as Weinstein's Chagall-Elvis composition, "Conversations." A reception will be held following the concert.
For more information, call the Weymouth Center at 910-692-6261.
Mary Elle Hunter is a Pinehurst freelance writer. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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