Carole Jacobs, a flute performance major at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), captured top honors at the Orange County Youth Symphony Orchestra (OCYSO) Concerto Competition. As a result, she will be featured in a performance of Georges Hue’s “Fantasie” for flute and orchestra next May at Chapman University.
“Ever since I got the news, I’ve been feeling a crazy mix of emotions,” said Jacobs, who expects to graduate from CSULB in spring 2015. “I've been asking myself if I really won or if it’s just a dream. When the maestro announced my name, I was really, really shocked and taken aback. But of course, I’m very excited to have the opportunity to do this and am grateful to have been chosen along with the other winner (a cellist).”
Jacobs, a resident of Anaheim, faced a day-long competition going head-to-head against other performers and their accompanists. Everyone, she said, had a 15-minute slot to perform, and the results were announced the next day.
She said she thinks her recognition was the result of several things at once. “When I was in front of the judges, I just played as confidently as I could and put as much passion as possible into what I was doing,” Jacobs pointed out. “But I also think the piece I’m playing is a crowd pleaser. It has flowing and beautiful lines but it also has elements of suspense and playfulness, which is what drew me to play the piece someday when I first heard it.”
There’s no substitute for victory when it comes to gaining confidence.
“I’m kind of shy by nature and sometimes it shows when I actually get up and play in front of others,” she admitted. “This is a huge opportunity for me to open up and just enjoy doing what I do even more.”
According to Jacobs, choosing her instrument seemed like an easy choice at first, but it didn’t turn out that way. Originally, she was going to play the clarinet but decided it had too many keys, which is ironic given that she now plays the flute.
“I tried so many other instruments that I almost exhausted my resources. I finally tried the flute after a lot of nudging from my friend who played it. I was really reluctant because I thought it was ‘too girly’ for me but I got a sound out of it pretty easily, so I picked it,” she recalled. “As time went on, I just kind of fell in love with it and music in general. It’s taken me places I’d never ever thought I'd go.”
Jacobs also noted that her decision to come to CSULB has been a good one for her. When she made the choice, "It was important for me to choose somewhere that had a strong music program with an equally as strong general education program," and she said she is getting a “great education” in her major and enjoying her other classes outside of music. Still, she is especially enamored with CSULB’s Bob Cole Conservatory of Music and all of the support it offers.
“In the flute department, I’m surrounded by a lot of encouraging and inspiring people,” Jacobs explained. “We're like a little family. I’m humbled by the support I’ve gotten from my peers and my private teacher, John Barcellona.
“(The conservatory) has given me a place to really grow as a musician over the past two years,” she continued. “While I’ve quickly become accustomed to the idea that it really does take a hell of a lot of work to be successful in the field, I’ve also learned to relax a lot more and find more joy and pleasure in what I do.
“It’s emphasized here that, of course, perfecting your craft is an important aspect of your degree but becoming an informed, educated performer is just as important,” she concluded. “It’s not just about the notes on the page; it’s about the story behind it and the version you tell your audience when you perform.”