In the early part of 1990, a small and enthusiastic group of music-loving persons met with Harry Jacobs in the home of Dr. William Boyd to discuss the possibility of forming a high quality chamber music series which would honor Maestro Jacobs and be led by him. At that meeting, the Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society was formed.
Within a very short time, the Society had over 200 members, and it was accepted as a stellar addition to the fine arts organizations of the CSRA. Harry would be happy to witness our success, as we are happy that his legacy lives!
"Some have known him for most of their lives, others, a few years, but all seem to have found their lives better because Harry Jacobs was in them."
The idea of starting a chamber music society which would honor Harry Jacobs, retiring director of the Augusta Symphony, was met with unanimous enthusiasm. It was decided that the initial season would begin in the fall. The season was assured by financial pledges from the founders. Harry Jacobs was appointed Artistic Director and was charged with seeking top artistic talent for the upcoming concerts.
The mission of the Society was formed. In addition to honoring Maestro Jacobs, a three-pronged approach was agreed upon:
Officers were selected with Dr. Mercer Bridges as the first president. A committee was formed to draw up articles of incorporation and bylaws to govern the Society. By June, the Society was officially incorporated. The ballroom of the Old Medical College of Georgia was selected as the venue for concerts.
By the opening of the first season in the fall of 1990, a substantial number of members had joined. The contracted chamber music groups came from different countries in Europe, Canada and the U.S. This international component was greeted enthusiastically and it has continued to the present.
The Society continued to grow in stature, public awareness, membership and financial support during the 1990's. In 1999, the series was moved to the Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre on the campus of Augusta State University (now the Summerville Campus of Augusta University). All concerts since then have been included in the university's Lyceum series, and students and faculty are admitted free of charge.
On June 3, 2001, Augusta was deeply saddened by the death of the beloved founder of the Society, Harry Jacobs. Maestro Jacobs had played a major role in developing the high level of classical music that Augusta enjoys. The Society especially felt the loss of their leader and motivator. The officers and board rededicated themselves to the continuation of the Society and the furtherance of the cause of chamber music in Augusta.
In September, the Board of Directors appointed Dr. Alan Drake to the position of Artistic Director. Dr. Drake, a founding member, had served as Assistant Artistic Director, Board member, Vice-President and President. Maestro Harry Jacobs was posthumously given the title of Artistic Director in Perpetuity.
World-class artists that have presented concerts for the Society have included the Fine Arts Quartet, Jess Trio - Vienna, the Scholars of London, the St. Petersburg String Quartet, the Jacques Thibaud String Trio, the New York Woodwind Quintet, the St. Louis Brass Quintet, the Brno Chamber Orchestra, the Moscow string quartet, Charles Wadsworth, and pianists Marina Lomazov, Roberto Plano and Esther Budiardjo.
The Society continues into the new millennium with the confidence that the great literature of chamber music written by the finest composers in history will convey its eternal message of beauty and hope, and that the members and guests of the Harry Jacobs Chamber Music Society will continue to be full participants in its joys.
"As great an artist as he was, he was a much greater human being. He was a special, special person. The thing with Harry was, when you left him he had made you feel better about yourself. He sent you away skipping."