Johann Sebastian Bach: composer of 1,100 known works; organist, harpsichordist, violist, violinist; born into a legacy of musicians; one of the most well-known and well-loved composers of his day and ours. But who was Bach, really?
Dr. Jeannine Jordan has an answer. On Sunday, March 16, Jordan and her husband, David, presented “Bach and Sons,” an organ and multi-media concert that tells the story of Johann Sebastian Bach and his sons. For her part, Jordan incorporates her organ playing and narration from the perspective of Bach’s wives and daughter, while David runs and coordinates the multi-media presentation. While Jordan plays, David projects images onto a large screen, taking the audience into Bach’s Germany.
He also projects the live footage from the four cameras that are focused on Jordan as she plays. “At first it was something that made me a bit nervous,but now I am thrilled to share that with the audience,” Jordan said. “Rarely do people ever see what their organist does to play the instrument.”
The simultaneous multimedia is an equally important part of the concert,the Jordans said. “62 percent of our society are primarily visual learners,” David said. “This is a way that people really become part of the show….It’s a continual experience.” “All of us are so visually tuned in these days that with the cameras and the computerized video and cinematic screen, we really address the desire of today’s audience to interact with the story that’s taking place in front of their eyes,” Jordan said.
The multimedia aspect is also intended to draw a younger audience to the concert. Jordan said it’s important to appeal to today’s youth because it is up to them to preserve the music. “Unless we bring our young people to these concerts and help them understand the music,we’re going to lose it,” she said.
The concert’s program includes Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor —“which is probably Bach’s most famous piece”— that Bach composed as a young man; hymn “From Heaven Above To Earth I Come,”one of Bach’s first compositions, written at 11 years old; “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,”another popular piece and one that Bach composed during his time in Weimar; and late Bach piece “St.Anne Fugue,”which ends the concert. “It’s a summation of his Christian be- liefs in the Holy Trinity,” Jordan said. “It brings the whole program to a resounding conclusion.”
Jordan also plays the music of Bach’s sons during the concert, beginning with the music Bach composed during his sons’ births, moving to the music he wrote to teach them the keyboard and ending with their own compositions. However,“Bach and Sons” isn’t just about the music, she said. It’s also about the man and who he was outside of his music. “Even organists,after they see this show, say, ‘Wow, I forgot that Bach was a family man, that he was a church musi cian, that he was composing,’” Jordan said. “‘I forgot that during all of this, he was a man who had a life where he interacted with people and traveled, and had a family —a large family —and he was a very caring father for them. “It brings Bach alive in a way that just hearing an organ piece at a concert can never do.”
Jordan grew up playing Bach,and never outgrew her love for the music or the man, “Bach was probably the consummate musician of all time, in my mind,” she said. “He brought together many different outlets of the music of his day —which is now 350 years ago —and here we still play, listen to and concertize with Bach. “I think he was a man who was doing his job,who was raising his family, and yet he was a composer —whether he realized it or not —a composer of genius.”
Jordan and her husband presented “Bach and Sons,” in conjunction with the Oregon Music Teachers Association ,at 3 p.m. Sunday,March 16, at Church of the Good Samaritan, 333 N.W.35th St., Corvallis. For more information, see http://www.bachandsons.com.