Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for January, 2016

Instituto de Órganos Históricos de Oaxaca México

An Interview with Cicely Winter, Director of IOHIO

J: Instituto de Órganos Históricos de Oaxaca México is unique in its mission as itis committed to protect, conserve, document, and promote the historic pipe organs in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico; to raise consciousness about their importance as part of the national and international cultural heritage; and to reintegrate the restored instruments into the present-day life of their communities.”

As co-founder of this organization, why do you think the work of Instituto de Órganos Históricos de Oaxaca México is of such importance?  And urgency?  Would you please give some examples of the work done by the Society?

Ms. Winter:  First, let me begin by giving a very brief history of the Oaxacan organs.  (For more information please visit http://iohio.org.mx/eng/organhistory.htm)

The Oaxaca area of Mexico was evangelized by the Dominicans in the mid-1500s.  The Dominicans brought with them tabletop organs, which would prove to be a powerful tool in the mission to convert the native population to Christianity.  Within just a few years after the Conquest, the indigenous population was involved in all aspects of European music – singing in choir, composing music, playing and building instruments with organbuilding workshops, directed by Spaniards using indigenous artisan labor, began to appear.  There was a great demand for organs, since a new church was not considered to be complete without one, and the organ was promoted by the Church as the proper instrument to accompany the liturgy.

Thus, part of the work of IOHIO is traveling through the Oaxaca region to document the existing organs.   Originally there were 100s of these unique locally built organs in our area.  At this point we have documented 72.

After the documentation we then determine the best way to conserve the instruments for the future.  Conservation begins with protection.  Not only protecting the organs from natural deterioration but educating the local population as to the importance of the instrument as many people have no memory of the organ’s sound or even realize that it was once a musical instrument.  (To learn more visit http://iohio.org.mx/eng/protection.htm)

To receive the funds for restoring an organ we have to be able to guarantee that the restored organ will be played, tuned, maintained, cleaned, and watched over.  Mainly, though, the goal is that the restored organ be played which means that the number of restored organs is linked to the number of organists in the area.  Over the years, we have tried many different educational programs and now have a core group of organists and more appreciation from the priests – and even the Archbishop — for the organ and how it can be used to enhance the liturgy of the Mass.  Following that we move into concerts and of course, our Festivals to bring awareness of these unique treasures to the world.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan is a teacher, church musician, and concert organist. She and her husband are the creators and performers of the organ and multi-media concert experiences, From Sea to Shining Sea and Bach and Sons.

Meet Cicely Winter, IOHIO

Guest Interview with Cicely Winter, IOHIO

Jeannine:  Please introduce yourself to our readers.  How did you find yourself in the Oaxaca area of Mexico?

Ms. Winter:  I have been in Oaxaca for 44 years.  I came here from the US with my husband who is an archaeologist working for the Mexican national government.  We first came to Mexico because of my husband’s post-doctoral work and two years turned into 44.  I am a pianist but before this project, I had never played an organ.  I know about organizing projects in Oaxaca and I know about music.  I met some organ people who introduced me to the organs and here I am still.  in 2000, I co-founded the Instituto de Órganos Históricos de Oaxaca México (IOHIO) and since then have served as its director doing festival organization and coordinating the documentation, preservation, and restoration of the organs of Oaxaca.

J:  My first “connection” to the organs of Oaxaca, Mexico was through my organ professor, Guy Bovet, in the mid-1980s.  Guy, who at the time was involved in the documentation of historical instruments in Mexico, also introduced his students to the music of Spanish composers, Cabezón and Francisco Correa de Arauxo.

Is there a connection between Mr. Bovet’s early work and your work to preserve the organs of Oaxaca?

Ms. Winter:  Yes, there is a strong connection.  In the 1980s and 90s, Mr.Bovet and his team carried out an important survey of the organs of various regions of Mexico, including that of Oaxaca.  His titanic work, sponsored by UNESCO and Pro Helvetia, documented hundreds of organs.  It was amazing work given the horrible road conditions, lack of telephones, and difficulty in communication.  Guy’s work formed the basis of our work.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan is a teacher, church musician, and concert organist. She and her husband are the creators and performers of the organ and multi-media concert experiences, From Sea to Shining Sea and Bach and Sons.


Directions for Singing

As Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

As we consider the message of Paul, let’s also consider John Wesley’s Directions for Singing as we sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs in this New Year. John Wesley, an Anglican cleric and theologian, published in 1737 in Charlestown, South Carolina, one of the first hymnals in the English language prepared for use in public worship. In 1761, in the preface to yet another hymnal, Sacred Melody, John Wesley presented his Directions for Singing. (These may be a little 1761ish in tone, but they’re still apropos today.)


  • Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength …
  • Sing ALL. See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can …
  • Sing them exactly as they are printed here without altering or mending them at all …
  • “Learn these Tunes before you learn any others ….
  • Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above or distinct from the rest of the congregation, that you may not destroy the harmony …
  • Sing in Time. Whatever time is sung, be sure to keep with it. Do not run before nor stay behind it … and take care not to sing too slow…
  • Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing Him more than yourself or any other creature.”

Dr. Jeannine Jordan is a teacher, church musician, and concert organist. She and her husband are the creators and performers of the organ and multi-media concert experiences, From Sea to Shining Sea and Bach and Sons.

Plan, Prepare, Present

Teaching a lesson yesterday I heard myself say, “You know – Christmas is on a Sunday this year.”  Yikes!  Spoken like a true church musician and teacher – always looking ahead, planning, preparing, and presenting music.  It’s quite the good life, isn’t it?

Yes, it’s that time of year for most people to make resolutions, set goals, challenge oneself.  But, for us organists, it’s that time of the year all year round!  For church musicians especially, those Sabbath days show up every 7 days and depending on your denomination, festival Sundays show up with an almost monthly frequency.  So, what’s a church musician to do?  PLAN, PREPARE, and PRESENT music in an ongoing rolling manner.

If you haven’t already done so, start PLANNING by taking out a calendar and making note of the church dates important to your congregation.  They might be Ash Wednesday (the start of Lent on February 10), Palm Sunday, Holy Week, Easter (this year on March 27), Pentecost, Reformation, Christ the King, Advent (begins on November 27), and yes even Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (this year on a Sunday).

Why do this?  Well, as organists and regular people too, life can get busy and these important church dates can creep up and surprise a person and then more often than not our music is not all it could be to enhance the worship of our congregations.  So, start the PLANNING by mapping out ideas for the solo music you’d like to play, the hymn settings and transitions and transpositions you’d like to include, and the music you may need to accompany.

Ah…you say, “I’m not a church organist but a student of the organ.”  And my reply is…”the idea of PLANNING, PREPARING, and PRESENTING works beautifully for anyone studying the organ.”  PLAN the music you’d like to learn and determine a date for the mastery of the concept or piece.  Will you perform the piece on our Spring Recital on May 7th?  Will you share it with family or friends?  Will you pass a section of the BYU course?  Will you fulfill a personal goal?

For all of us, church organist or student of the organ, the next step is to determine the method of  PREPARING the music.  What will your practice time look like?  How will you spend the minutes you’ve allotted for your organ study?  Will you practice hands and feet alone or in combinations?  Will you work on specific sections

of a piece?  Will you reward yourself by playing a “favorite” piece at the end of your practice session?

And, as always, the goal is to PRESENT your music to your congregation, your family, your friends, or even to record yourself.

So take an afternoon and design a MUSIC PLAN, so then you’ll know what and how much time you’ll need to PREPARE the music you’ve chosen, so you’ll be more than ready to PRESENT your music successfully and joyfully.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan is a teacher, church musician, and concert organist. She and her husband are the creators and performers of the organ and multi-media concert experiences, From Sea to Shining Sea and Bach and Sons.

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