Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Last month I was invited to submit an article to MusForum, the online magazine for women organists, celebrating their accomplishments and wide-ranging interests.   I was honored to share my passion — that of presenting “new” organ concerts using storytelling and 21st-century technology. My goal is to bring a different group of people to organ concerts and make new friends for the organ.

To read the article,

MY PASSION – TAKING ORGAN CONCERTS OUT OF THE “POTTED-PALM” MODE 

please click here.

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 concerts with multi-media.

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O Come, All Ye…Faithful?

O Come, All Ye…Faithful?
Jeannine Jordan

The Christmas tree was lit; the bows were perfectly tied on the swag — I think they were the plaid red and green bows that year.  The wedding candelabra were well disguised with fresh cut greenery and faintly glowed with a dozen candles, and the Advent wreath with all the proper colored candles in place was waiting to be lit.  The choir was nervously assembled at the back of the church for their semi-annual procession — down the middle aisle — up four steps to the communion table — left or right four steps — down two steps to the Christmas tree platform — around two corners — up two steps into the choir loft — turn — up four steps — turn and stand in place.  Complicated to say the least!

The light man was in place at the strategically placed light switchwhich allowed absolutely no sight of the sanctuary.  The coldly stoic pastor stood statue-like and prepared for the most joyous service of the year.  The organist had just finished a glorious prelude of Balbastre noels and she was ready to launch into the opening strains of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” — a very well-known but actually not oft-played hymn — just a one-time-per-year Christmas carol.

The stops were pulled on that great and powerful tracker organ — yes, it was an occasion for full organ!  The great strains sounded forth, the introduction was played, the unsmiling pastor started the procession with the congregation giving full voice to a favorite carol. 

The choir followed behind marching two-by-two:  the “red coats” and the “blue coats” in their respective and distinguishing robes.  The “blue coats” were the young upstart choir of the first service.  The “red coast” — the “I’ve sung in this very choir for 42 years” choir — normally sang in the second service.  Ah, but I digress;  that is a tale for another story.

 

The beauty of that 11:00 p.m. Midnight Candlelight Christmas Eve Service was an inspiration to behold: a great organ sounded forth, a congregation was singing with joy, and choir members made their way solemnly down the middle aisle, and up the four steps to the communion table.  There they made the turn directly in front of the not-yet-lit Advent wreath, turned, and took four steps.  Ah, the tricky part was coming: verse two of “O Come.”  The singing became a bit more indistinct as the congregation started searching for the words and the choir started negotiating the two steps down to the Christmas tree platform — around two corners — up two steps — turn — up four more steps and — (whew!) — into the choir loft.

Basses and tenors, by now not singing at all as verse three began, turned and made the final steps into the choir loft as the loudly –(but dare I say well-) played organ took over.  Verse four and the ladies of the combined choir mounted the platform, turned at the Communion table, and started down and around the dimly-lit Christmas tree.  Suddenly and without warning the lights of the ENTIRE — and I mean ENTIRE — sanctuary, including the all-important light on the music desk of the organ — went out!  BLACK!  Totally dark!  A dozen extraneous candles tried bravely to give light to the inky blackness, but to no avail.  The domino theory had begun!

The proper alto section who were just making who were just making their way past two long-reaching tree branches, were discombobulated.  They went down!  Yes, down on their hands and knees.  The all-perfect sopranos, following at the steps, also wentdown into the tree and onto the proper altos.  The “blue-coat” choir director, bringing up the rear of this procession, found herself tumbled under the tree with her most unbecoming blue-coated side facing the blind congregation as she searched frantically under the unsuspecting Christmas tree for her glasses knocked off in the fray.

Oh, and did I mention the organist?  Ah, yes!  When the glory and joyful light of that Christmas Eve night went black, her fingers ceased their faithful dance on the keys and became helpless sticks unable to find any of the proper keys to continue the carol.  But continue she did.  Also, being unable to find the stops to quiet the noise, she continued to smash keys in a random and incredibly raucous fashion.  Was it the cacophony of the angels?  Ah, but the comments hurled at the mostly deaf — and certainly now blind — sanctuary light man, probably not.  Said sound and light man simply stared as his board unaware of the chaos his simple flick of a switch had created.

What happened next?  Did the service continue?  Did it end at 12:30 — the other midnight hour — in calm and repose with the singing of “Silent Night”?  The memory has dimmed to inconsequential.
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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 concerts with multi-media.

In Mid-November David and I attended a performance of the Advent and Christmas portions of Georg Friedrich Handel’s Messiah.  Yes, November 19th seemed a bit early to hear this “seasonal” music, but what amazing timing it was.  As the secular craziness of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday hit with force, our hearts and minds were prepared with the glorious scriptural and spiritual texts of prophesy, promise, and joy.  I invite you to make these texts your own this month of December – this season of Advent and Christmas.

From Isaiah:

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.  Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Ev’ry valley shall be exalted, and ev’ry mountain and hill made low;  the crooked straight and the rough places plain.

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together:  for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Emmanuel, God with us.

Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

From Luke:

Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying:  Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will towards men.

From Matthew:

Come unto Him, all ye that labour, come unto Him that are heavy laden, and He will give you rest.  Take his yoke upon you, and learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

 

Jeannine:  Another of your many talents are the Facebook witticisms you share on a regular basis that bring famous art works to life with witty repartee between characters.  What is this wonderfully creative process?  (Visit Daniel’s FB page to discover this wonderful world.)

Mr. Gawthrop:  I stare at the picture until my fevered imagination overheats and begins spouting nonsense. I capture as much as possible and edit until I lose interest!

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Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview of the October 2017 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.  Dr. Jeannine and David Jordan are the creative artists of Pro-Motion Music LLC.  Jeannine, a concert organist, with David, a media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multimedia concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Bach and Sons.

 

 

Jeannine:  As a writer you shared your insights with the public of Washington DC as music critic for The Washington Post.  What skills are needed to be an astute music critic?  You must have many “stories” from this part of your career.  Is there one you’d care to share with our readers?

Mr. Gawthrop:  The language skills required are considerable, not only in finding constantly fresh ways to colorfully and memorably describe musical events but also in the discipline required to be comprehensively descriptive within just a few column inches. Beyond language issues, it really helps to be broadly based in your listening and reading habits so that the things you are writing (to a very sophisticated audience) are firmly based in understanding.

I came to professional music criticism with almost no formal training and did so in front of a cosmopolitan readership in a major international music capitol. It was scary. I think the magnitude of what I had undertaken didn’t become fully clear to me until when, within a very short period of time, I was assigned to review two events by world class performers whom I had previously known only through recordings: the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and concert organist Marie Claire Alain. It was in equal measures humbling and exhilarating.
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Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview of the October 2017 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.  Dr. Jeannine and David Jordan are the creative artists of Pro-Motion Music LLC.  Jeannine, a concert organist, with David, a media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multimedia concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Bach and Sons.

Dunstan House

Jeannine:  You are also a music publisher, establishing the Dunstan House in 1991.  What are the challenges, joys of publishing and promoting your own music so successfully – case in point, Mr. Gawthrop’schoral piece, Sing Me to Heaven,has half million copies in print, and has become one of the most performed and recorded choral works in modern history!

Mr. Gawthrop:  My wife and I started Dunstan House when I realized that the companies which had been publishing my things up to that point were forced by reality to profitably sell as many copies as possible of each title, and that this quite inevitably led to editorial decisions about what to publish and what to allow to eventually go out of print which were not necessarily in my best interests. The only way to control those decisions was to own the process, so Dunstan House was established to allow me to publish even the things which would probably never turn a profit, and to keep in print even things which didn’t sell thousands of copies each year.

 

Obviously, the joys of self-publication are pretty much wrapped up right there. The challenges also follow pretty logically—no one but me will do any advertising or promotion for my catalog, so when there’s little or no money for those efforts (which is most of the time) very little gets done. Accordingly, I am looking at a catalog which is, from my perspective, filled with undiscovered gems which are unknown to nearly everyone but the original commissioning body.  Please visit http://www.dunstanhouse.com/ to peruse our catalog.

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Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview of the October 2017 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.  Dr. Jeannine and David Jordan are the creative artists of Pro-Motion Music LLC.  Jeannine, a concert organist, with David, a media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multimedia concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Bach and Sons.

Guest Artist Interview
with Daniel Gawthrop 

Jeannine: Who is Daniel Gawthrop? Please introduce yourself.

Mr. Gawthrop:  I started musical activities in elementary school, played trombone in the band beginning in junior high, sang in school and church choirs and fell in love with the organ
as a youngster. Supportive parents and readily available instruction in a fine public school system helped me develop my skills. I began college as an organ performance major but quickly discovered that my piano technique and background were inadequate to allow me to succeed. A few years in the Navy (mostly in northern Germany) and marriage helped mature me a bit and when I returned to college the switch to composition seemed natural.

From that point I have been obsessed with creating music which will touch people and lift them up. Much of that music has been written for church use, but there is also a substantial body of choral works with secular texts. Music for my favorite instrument, the organ, also comprises a good percentage of my output, and orchestral pieces appear when those rare commissions allow.

Jeannine:  What brought you to the world of music?

Mr. Gawthrop:  I honestly cannot remember a time when it was not central to my life. I’m forced to assume I was born with the need to hear and create music—it’s as necessary as food…especially chocolate!
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Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview of the October 2017 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.  Dr. Jeannine and David Jordan are the creative artists of Pro-Motion Music LLC.  Jeannine, a concert organist, with David, a media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multimedia concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Bach and Sons.

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