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Another Day at the Cathedral

Another Day at the Cathedral

Unique workplace inspires young GC alumnus

Jake Tackett ’12 currently serves as tenor section leader at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis, where he sings with three choirs: the Archdiocesan choir, the Cathedral Choir, and a smaller group, the Cathedral Schola, which performs more difficult and early music. He is also a Young Artist with the Bach Society of Saint Louis, an apprenticeship program that afforded him the opportunity last December to sing Bach’s "Magnificat in D" to an audience of more than 2,000. “I sing because I was bestowed with a gift from God,” he says. “I may not be the wisest or the most eloquent, but I can sing.”

As a Greenville College freshman, Jake Tackett ’12 had a conversion experience of sorts. It occurred in a theater on the campus of the University of Indiana. He and some friends acquired tickets to see a live performance of La bohème. Jake entered the theater a complete stranger to opera and exited thoroughly smitten with the art. “As soon as I heard the voices, I was just blown away. I knew immediately I wanted to sound like them. That’s what took me from my major in contemporary Christian music to classical performance. I have never regretted it for a second.”

While in college, Jake sang with the Greenville College Choir and Chamber Singers. He graduated last year with a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance. Since then, in addition to his work with the Cathedral choirs and Bach Society, he has also performed with the Winter Opera Saint Louis and the Masterworks Chorale, based in Belleville, Illinois. Jake works hard to continually learn and improve, but knows his best performances will probably come in the more distant future. “The voice of a tenor generally doesn’t fully mature until around age thirty. I’ve still got a huge amount of work to do.”

When Jake performs sacred music, he is keenly aware that his listeners bring spiritual needs with them into the concert hall. Some represent faiths other than Christianity; some harbor vague remembrances of an early faith or claim no faith. “I get to be a minister of the truth,” he explains, reflecting on his role, “and it’s my job to sing it well. Music sung passionately or excellently can remind people why they believe.”

Jake quotes II Timothy 1:6 as his personal charge to excel: “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.” He considers himself blessed to fan the flames of his talent in a unique and inspiring environment. “I sing Gregorian chant at the Basilica. I don’t know that there is a more beautiful thing than singing scriptures and praises to God in a space like that.”

With a year of professional experience behind him now, Jake gives GC high marks in preparing him for work in his field. “My training as a musician at Greenville was invaluable,” he says. To illustrate, he points to the skills and discipline he gained for learning and practicing difficult pieces, independent of group rehearsals. “That sort of practice is something I have to do now, even more so. I rehearse with most groups just once a week, and so the responsibility of learning music falls on the choir member.”

Jake also appreciates the breadth of GC’s liberal arts offerings and his professors’ diverse experiences and varied perspectives. Both enhance his understanding of the music he performs each week, which spans centuries.

Jake has recently been accepted into the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. The six-week program includes intensive study and performance guided by an international faculty of voice teachers, coaches, guest lecturers and clinicians.

Photo: St. Louis Cathedral Basilica via Wikipedia

This story was published on August 07, 2013

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