The Bishop’s School community is grieving over the recent passing of accompanist, Jared Jacobsen. Known by students as “Mr. J,” Jacobsen worked closely with the school’s choir department playing piano, and also coached and helped teach students during class periods, rehearsals, and concerts.
On Tuesday, Aug. 27, Jacobsen was driving to have dinner with friends when his car collided with a Waste Management truck in Geneva, Ohio. He died instantly.
“He was my colleague and my friend,” said Louise Carmon, former choral music director at Bishop’s, who worked with Mr. J from 1997 to her retirement in 2015. “ He was such a kind, gentle, and sensitive human being.”
In addition to accompanying the Bishop’s choir, Mr. J was also a colleague, a mentor, and a friend to many in the community. He was the San Diego Civic Organist from 1978 to 1985, and he served on the Spreckels Organ Society’s Board of Trustees at the time of his passing; he was the First Lutheran Church’s music director; and every summer, he went home to Chautauqua, New York to be Chautauqua Institute’s organist, director of choirs, and worship coordinator.
“He was a world-class pianist,” said Carmon. “He traveled all over the world and concertized. You think he wouldn’t feel fulfilled being the so-called accompanist at our little school, but Bishop’s was a family for him. He loved his work there, he loved the students, and he loved supporting them.”
“When he was working with you, Mr. J made you feel you were the most important thing to him,” said the current choral director of Bishop’s, Dr. Christine Micu. “He always recognized when someone needed something – a text to check in, a phone call, a piece of chocolate, a card, or just a sticky note. He was generous of spirit and genuinely cared for others.”
The Bishop’s School held a memorial service for Mr. J on Thursday morning, Aug. 29. Students, faculty, and alumni filed into St. Mary’s Chapel to hear music, say prayers, and remember the man who was an integral part of the community.
During the service, current Bishop’s student Sean Kim shared that Mr. J would have wanted everyone to look at the loss and remember the good memories.
“He taught me, and all of us, to love what you do, love who you’re with, and love yourself.”
During sectional rehearsals, Mr. J often rehearsed with the tenors and basses of the group while Carmon or Micu worked with the treble voices.
“Mr. J had a quiet, calming, supportive energy that he shared selflessly with his students, whether in conversations about music and life or through a friendly smile,” said former Bishop’s student Colin Garon, who sang in the school’s choir for six years. “I left every interaction with him feeling supported, appreciated, and inspired.”
And he truly was supportive, appreciative, and inspiring. As a Bishop’s alumni and a member of the Bishop’s choirs for six years, I worked closely with Mr. J; and I can attest that he was a great mentor who shared his friendship, knowledge, and time with whomever he came across.
Mr. J will be greatly missed by the Bishop’s community and all those whom he touched. Plans are in the works for additional services and a music education fund in Mr. J’s memory. Updates will be posted at bishops.com.