School music festival an echo of trustee’s passion
by Sam Matthews
Apr 04, 2014 | 2313 views | 0 0 comments | 54 54 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Sitting in the front row of the south side bleachers of the West High gym the other night, a thought kept passing through my mind:

“Mel Jacobson should be here tonight. He’d love every minute of it.”

“It” was Tracy Unified School District’s All-District Music Festival. The annual springtime event filled with the gym floor and some bleachers with band, orchestra and choral members from high schools and middle-school students. The audience, seated in the bleachers, I could easily conclude was composed mostly of parents and other close relatives of the young musicians.

I had gone to the concert to snap photos at intermission of middle-school-age students receiving Wells Music Scholarships, but I took in most of the offerings before and after the photos.

The reason I thought of Mel was his Passionate (capital “P” for emphasis) devotion to promoting music in Tracy schools and throughout the community.

The fact that a stringed orchestra joined the band and choir in the festival would have been the frosting on the cake for him.

Mel, a local optometrist who served 29 years as a trustee of the Tracy Elementary School District (before unification), was a violinist, a very good one of near-professional ability. A native of New York, he had studied at the renowned Juilliard School.

During those nearly three decades on the elementary school board, Mel never missed a beat in pushing for the inclusion of music in the schools’ curriculum, especially stringed instruments in orchestras.

As periodic budget crunches faced various school districts, music programs would often take a hit. And orchestras were the first to go as the districts tried to hold on to bands and choirs as best they could.

Over the years, Tracy schools have managed to maintain all three musical forms — retiring Superintendent Jim Franco was recognized at the concert for his and the board’s support — and last week’s all-district music festival was graphic evidence of that.

While pushing and defending music programs as a school trustee, Mel also promoted music and the arts throughout the community.

Soon after arriving in Tracy in 1952, after Purple Heart Army service in World War II and with a freshly minted diploma from the UC Berkeley School of Optometry, Mel started developing performing arts programs through the West Park PTA and later the Tracy Concert Guild.

He brought a number of classical and jazz musical groups, including jazz great Dave Brubeck, to Tracy for concerts.

Meanwhile, he joined the Stockton Symphony, which at that time was a semi-professional orchestra. He soon became concertmaster and held that position for a number of years.

Mel died Feb. 14, 1990, at the age of 76. Having Melville S. Jacobson Elementary School named for him was an honor he greatly appreciated — but the other night I couldn’t help feeling that the all-district music concert, stringed instruments and all, was a continuing special part of his legacy as well.

Albert Correia’s novel published

The first novel in a three-book trilogy authored by Tracy native Albert Correia has now been published.

Correia was in Tracy last week when he received word of the beginning of publishing of the first of three novels, a project he has pursued for more than a decade from his base in Costa Rica.

“Even in Eden” is the first book to be published by Kamel Press LLC, Correia reported. It is available both as a paperback and an ebook.

Initially, “Even in Eden,” was self-published, he said, but this is the first time it has been commercially published. The other two books in “The Eden Trilogy” will soon be published, Correia said. They continue following the lives of the two main characters, a physician and an attorney.

A 1953 graduate of Tracy High School, Correia has been living in Costa Rica for the past 18 years. He writes in English, but his books are centered in the Central American nation and relate to social, economic and political situations there.

• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by email at shm@tracypress.com.
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