Jeannine: Let’s look next at your work with two projects that stand out to me as something unique and of great significance in the organ world – the young organ artist recitals series at Central Synagogue, NYC and Musforum.
Why is it important to promote a young organ artist recital series?
Dr. Archer: I direct an artist and student organ series at Central Synagogue in NYC. Artists play on the second Tuesdays of every month and I bring young people from organ schools across the country to play on the fourth Tuesday of every month October-May. Students have the opportunity to play in a large venue on a large instrument in a concert situation.
The series was started by the Gabe Wiener family after gifting a four-manual Casavant to the Synagogue in 2002 in Gabe’s memory. I was approached by the Wiener family to start this series which I was delighted to do.
Jeannine: What is Musforum and why is it significant?
Dr. Archer: Musforum was started after I had some disappointments in institutions. In my travels, I discovered other women have had some of these same disappointments where they are passed over in the application process, where they are treated unkindly in the workplace, or where they’re summarily dismissed. Those disappointing things happened often because the women had succeeded – they played beautifully, their choir sang beautifully, or they got a review in the local newspaper which drew attention to their beautiful work and that’s the reason, too often, that the persons in charge were unkind to them. This is not how things should be. When people do something beautiful and positive they should be recognized, and promoted and supported and encouraged. I was hearing stories such as these and experiencing my own disappointments and decided to do something positive about it.
I researched all the women organists in North America and published my findings in the Journal of the International Alliance of Women in Music(www.iawm.org). What the numbers revealed is that there are only two women who are serving as cathedral organists and music directors in a major city in the US, two women serving as organ teachers at research universities in a major city in the US, zero women teaching organ in a conservatory in North America, and only 82 women teaching organ at liberal arts colleges or universities in small towns.
Musforum is a way to bring positive attention to women doing beautiful work no matter where they are doing it. Musforum is a place for women organists to easily communicate and where we can celebrate each other’s positive contribution to the field. And, that is why I started Musforum!
Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview of the February 2018 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.