As Jonathan writes, “In July of 1708, almost exactly five years after he had left, Bach returned to the court of Weimar, this time as the (true) official court organist. There, according to his obituary (written by his son, C. P. E. Bach, and student Johann Friedrich Agricola) his employer, the Duke Ernst August of Saxe-Weimar, had such appreciation for his organ-playing that Bach was ‘fired with the desire to try every possible artistry in his treatment of the organ.’ It is apparent, however, that Bach needed no outside motivation for such an endeavor. From a very young age, Bach had sought out the most demanding repertoire he could find, and, as a young composer, he turned to music of his predecessors and tried to surpass their examples. His early works stretched the boundaries of what organ music was and, indeed, sought to find the limit of what is possible on the organ.”
Jonathan Schakel is a native of Holland, Michigan, where he began playing music at an early age. He studied piano with Thomas Gouwens and guitar with Paul Vondiziano, and later also took voice lessons with Drew Minter and Sally Sanford. After an undergraduate degree from Hope College (Holland, MI), he began organ studies with James David Christie and Peter Kranefoed. He earned a master’s degree in organ and early music from Longy School of Music (Cambridge, MA), studying organ and harpsichord with Peter Sykes and continuo with Frances Conover Fitch. He has pursued further studies with Lorenzo Ghielmi, Luigi Ferdianando Tagliavini, and Olivier Latry, and has participated in the summer organ academies in Smarano, Italy; Haarlem, the Netherlands; and at McGill University in Montreal. He is currently completing a the DMA in performance practice at Cornell, studying with Annette Richards and David Yearsley.
Jonathan has given organ recitals in many of the United States, Scotland, the Netherlands, and Germany, including performances at Harvard University; Princeton University; Trinity Church, Boston; the Ludgerikirche, Norden, Germany; and St. Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh. He also performs frequently in chamber concerts on harpsichord, fortepiano, and organ, often with his wife, soprano Megan Sharp. His editions of Renaissance vocal music have been performed in the US, England and Germany. Together he and Megan direct the music program at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he plays an organ in north German baroque style by Taylor & Boody Organbuilders