Jacob Street ’10, center, winner of the inaugural $10,000 Rubin Prize, with Stephen Rubin, left, president and publisher of Henry Holt & Co. and benefactor of the Rubin Institute, and David Stull, dean of Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Image by Tony Morrison/Oberlin
The Oberlin Conservatory of Music recently announced that Jacob Street ’10, of North Reading, Mass., is the recipient of the first $10,000 prize of its new biennial Stephen and Cynthia Rubin Institute for Music Criticism.
Street will use the prize to support further study or internships in the field of music criticism over the next two years. Oberlin Conservatory of Music Dean David H. Stull, and Stephen Rubin, president and publisher of Henry Holt & Co. and benefactor of the Rubin Institute awarded Street the Rubin Prize. He was selected by Rubin and a panel of prominent national critics following a week-long series of public events, including performances, keynote addresses by journalists, critical reviews and discussion panels.
He reviewed performances by The Cleveland Orchestra, pianist Jeremy Denk, the baroque orchestra Apollo’s Fire, and the Internal Contemporary Ensemble, which included the world premier of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang’s new work, “my international.”
Street was one of 10 students chosen to participate in the Rubin Institute from Oberlin Conservatory’s new course, Introduction to Music Criticism. He worked with some of the nation’s most respected writers in the field, including Alex Ross, New Yorker magazine critic and author; Anne Midgette, Washington Post critic and author; Heidi Waleson, Wall St. Journal critic; John Rockwell, writer and arts critic; and Tim Page, professor of journalism and music at the University of Southern California and author.
Street is realistic about making a career out of music criticism, but is excited to apply his newly-honed skills in his future endeavors.
“It’s tough to make it as a music critic these days; there are incredibly few full time music critics in the United States today. I’d love to make some form of criticism a part of my career, though, and for now I’m just very excited to have the chance to travel and hear all kinds of music with this extremely generous award,” he says.
As the organ scholar of the Holy Cross class of 2010, he studied with James David Christie, distinguished artist in residence and College organist. Street is pursuing a master of music in historical performance at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he has studied organ with Christie and Olivier Latry, harpsichord with Webb Wiggins, and clavichord with David Breitman. Currently, he holds the position of minister of music at Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Cleveland.
“I developed my critical listening skills at Holy Cross — Prof. Jessica Waldoff’s classes [associate professor of music] and the music department’s many student, faculty, and guest artist recitals come to mind,” he says. “My time as the organ scholar also had me working with many international organists as they prepared and gave concerts, which was an excellent window into the creative musical processes of great musicians.”
This is not the first time Street has received recognition in the field of music. He has been a prizewinner in national and international organ competitions, and was recently accepted as a semifinalist in the upcoming Jurow International Harpsichord Competition. He has had the opportunity to study, compete, and perform in Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg and Estonia. In 2006, under the direction of Gennady Rozhdestvensky and Julian Kuerti, Street played the organ with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for about three and a half measures in the last two minutes of a Tchaikovsky symphony.
He plans to pursue a doctoral degree in early music after completing his master’s.