Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

(Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview with Howard Wagner, comptroller of Harpsichord Clearing House as published in the August 2018 edition of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter)

Jeannine:  How is the early music world changing/growing?

Howard:  It is gratifying that many smaller colleges and junior colleges have been in search of early keyboard instruments.  Early music departments and performing groups have been “springing up” all over the USA, and the Far East, often where it is least expected.  The excitement of hearing the music from the sixteenth through early nineteenth century on authentic instruments has become a passionate pursuit for many in both the performance and administrative areas of music. HCH loves being a part of this growth and building these new relationships.

Go to www.harpsichord.com to learn more, or the Harpsichord Clearing House Facebook page.

Jeannine:  I know you have several other passions besides early music.  Please tell us more.

Howard:  Collecting Cars – particularly hot rods from the 50’s and 60’s era.  Jeannine knows well as she drove of them.  (A thrilling few miles, indeed!)  American and English period antique furniture, early interior design, and architecture 17th 18th and early 19th century.  Puns and silly jokes.

Jeannine:  Thank you, Howard, for allowing me and our readers a glimpse into your amazing and wonder-filled world.
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Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist with her husband David, media artist, are the creators and performers of Bach and Sons, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Around the World in 80 Minutes — live organ and multi-media concert experiences.

(Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview with Howard Wagner, comptroller of Harpsichord Clearing House as published in the August 2018 edition of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter)

Jeannine:  How did you find your way back to the early music world?

Howard: At that time, I approached Glenn Giuttari who had founded the Harpsichord Clearing House in 1969.  His concept then was that eventually there needed to be a place for all the new harpsichords being built to be repaired and advertised for sale. It was a good match as I have been working with Glenn for 28 years.

Jeannine:  Tell us about the Harpsichord Clearing House.

Howard:  The Harpsichord Clearing House is the International center for brokerage, consignment, and repair, as well as the leading resource for purchase of early keyboard instruments.  This would include harpsichords, clavichords, fortepianos, as well as continuo, positiv, and small chapel or residence organs.

Jeannine:  Doesn’t the Harpsichord Clearing House also deal in organs and antique instruments?

Howard:  Yes, HCH is also the leading provider of positiv continuo organs having delivered over one hundred of these three to four stop “box organs”. Antique early keyboards also make their appearance from time to time, most notable, a Jacob Kirckman spinet from 1750, and a Charles Brackley Spinet from 1706.  The Kirckman was a consignment for sale, and the Brackley is a restoration. Last Fall we delivered an eleven-rank residence organ with two manuals and pedal to a home in the Chicago area,

Jeannine:  I assume your work with HCH is something you love.  What is your role at HCH?

Howard:  As far as my role in the business, I do sales, decorative design, customer service, proposals and recommendations, appraisals, financial management, demonstrations, sound samples for the website, and anything else that needs to be done as this is a small company.  My 28 years have been during good times for the Harpsichord Clearing House, as the business has grown both within North America, as well as internationally.

It is an honor to work with musicians including some famous ones, schools, orchestras, museums, and houses of worship from all over the world. Recently we have delivered instruments to China, South Korea, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Australia, Singapore, and the Republic of Georgia to name a few.
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Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist with her husband David, media artist, are the creators and performers of Bach and Sons, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Around the World in 80 Minutes — live organ and multi-media concert experiences.

A left turn

(Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview with Howard Wagner, comptroller of Harpsichord Clearing House as published in the August 2018 edition of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter)

Jeannine:  Degree earned at the University of Michigan.  What was next?

Howard:  Ah…a left turn with advantages shall we say.  After receiving my MBA degree, I returned to the East Coast and went to work for General Foods Corporation, White Plains, NY.  This was during a major recession and inflationary times, and very few companies were hiring.  So, food was the place to go.  The people were all very nice, very bright, and the company was a Fortune 500 corporation.  But, I knew this was not for me long term.  After five years, I was recruited to take a position at Standard Brands Corp. in Manhattan.  This was a very different environment.  While the General Foods employees were well educated and could discuss cultural things, the Standard Brands employees, including the executives were mostly uneducated and had worked their way up through the ranks. They amused themselves by drinking and cursing. They were also very political, as they could not rely on their skills to get themselves ahead.  Again, really not for me.

The advantage of being in midtown Manhattan was that one was surrounded by all sorts of culture. I often would stay in the city after work to attend a concert or museum lecture.

Jeannine:  How did those advantages mold your future?

Howard:  On my lunch hour I sometimes walked over to the Rodgers Organ Studio at Carnegie Recital Hall and would converse with Rick Tripodi and Jim Ramsey.  I learned at that time, that Doug Marshall who was a student of Virgil Fox at the same time as I, was selling Rodgers Organs in New England.  The wheels began to turn.  I am an organist, Virgil Fox was now touring on a Rodgers organ, I have a business degree and music, I have real business experience, hmmmmm.  I paid Doug Marshall a visit, and after about a year, Doug and I became the Rodgers organ dealer in New England. Our regional representative was Dave Jordan.

After about eight years, my desire to be involved with real — rather than imitation instruments took over, and Doug and I had a mutually agreeable parting of the ways, and I left the Rodgers Dealership.  Doug was a true gentleman about it – always was and always will be a fine individual.
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Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist with her husband David, media artist, are the creators and performers of Bach and Sons, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Around the World in 80 Minutes — live organ and multi-media concert experiences.

From Virgil Fox to U of M

(Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview with Howard Wagner, comptroller of Harpsichord Clearing House as published in the August 2018 edition of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter)

Jeannine:  What was it like to meet the flamboyant and venerable Virgil Fox?

Howard:  All of the participants stood outside on the church steps awaiting the arrival of Fox.  Virgil arrived in his white Cadillac Eldorado convertible – no it was not pink as the folklore states, and he wasn’t wearing a cape – and looking out the open driver’s window said “How’re doin?” one of his standard greetings. I can picture this scene as if it were yesterday.

The Fox Master Class was both eye and ear opening for me. Virgil mentioned during the class that during the upcoming summer, he was taking on three private students at his home in NJ.  I knew at that point that I wanted to study with him – probably the following year if possible.

Time went by, and several months before the next summer approached I told my father of my interest in studying the organ with Fox.  He appeared to make a mental note of the request.

A few weeks later, my dad said to me at dinner, I spoke with Virgil Fox today and he will take you on as a student this summer.  I was speechless, since Fox was like a god to me, and couldn’t understand how my dad was able to do this, so I asked, “how did you do that?”  He replied I called his management, (Richard Torrence), and got his phone number, and called him up. I thought that was amazing.

And the rest, as they say is history.  I studied for a year with Virgil, and it transformed my playing and understanding of music.  My senior year English teacher at Poly Prep was Miles Kastendieck, who was a music critic for one of the major New York City Newspapers concurrent with his teaching duties at Poly. Even Kastendieck, who from his reviews never liked very much, was quite complimentary when I had a chance to perform at Poly during dome of the music programs.

Jeannine:  After the tremendous life-changing experience as a mere high-schooler, I might add, what was to follow?

Howard:  It was on to the University of Michigan, organ and piano study and the requisite music classes. However, it was at U of M that I was exposed to the harpsichord.  The historical harpsichord revival was in its infancy – lots of kits – and few builders.  There was a fellow named Randy who established the “Bach Club” and it often featured harpsichord performers which included Penny Crawford, who used to perform on her Burton kit harpsichord, and Bruce Gustofson, a doctoral student then, who performed on his own William Dowd harpsichord.  So, it was early early on that I noted the vast difference between a kit and professionally built harpsichord.

Jeannine:  Is this what drew you into the early music world?

Howard:  Yes, at this point, I was hooked on authentic performance of early music.  Anthony Newman, although not from U of M was a rising star and I became a big fan particularly of his pedal harpsichord recordings. BTW Virgil Fox sat on one of Newman’s juries for one of his degrees describing him as a madman and a genius. Similar personalities attract!

So that was the beginning of involvement in the Early Music World.  I went on to get an MBA, and had a teaching fellowship, and with money I had earned and saved was able to purchase my first harpsichord from Eric Herz.

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