Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for the ‘Around the World in 80 Minutes’ Category

Interview with Dr. Gail Archer, concert organist

Jeannine:  As a concert organist and recording artist, I’m always impressed with your themed recital series programs.  Please tell us the reasons, the thoughts behind the ideas for these concerts.

 Dr. Archer:  I started as a concert organist about 15 years ago.  I started very modestly by playing noon recitals in my own church and going up to Boston and down to DC playing little noon concerts with no real view that I was going to do this in any serious way.

 Then I played in the summer series at Riverside Church in NYC in summer 2002 where I played a Messiaen cycle, Les Corps Glorieux.  That performance got reviewed in the New York Times and nobody was more shocked, surprised and delighted than me.  So I said, “Oh my goodness maybe I ought to do this seriously”.

As a result, I went to the Boston Conservatory and worked with James David Christie and then to Paris to work with Jon Gillock on Messiaen. Over a five-year period I learned the complete works of Messiaen and played them for the 100th anniversary of Messiaen’s death in 2008 here in NYC.  That was the real turning point for me.  I was the first American woman to play Messiaen’s complete organ works and it got a lot of wonderful press.   At the end of 2008, Time Out New York, the culture magazine, recognized it as the Best of the Year in Classical Music and Opera.

 My concert career has continued to grow since then.  I have a publicist and a recording company, but I do all my own bookings and am now playing fifty concerts a year at home and abroad.

 Jeannine:  You have several CDs to your credit.  What are some of your most recent recording projects?

 Dr. Archer:  I am always making recordings.  A recent CD is one of the music of women composers, The Muse’s Voice, which got excellent press.  My newest recording is the result of a Russian project, A Russian Journey.  I’ve been to Russia three times where I investigated organ literature by Russian composers.  The premise of my research was that there has to be organ music by Russian composers even though the organ is not found in churches (the Russian Orthodox tradition is a sung tradition) but organs are found in small recital halls associated with the Philharmonic in every city.  So, I discovered music by the Russian Five, lesser known composers plus music by living Russian composers.  This disc has gotten beautiful reviews including one in the January 2018 issue of Gramophone.

 I am going to now do more music of Eastern European composers because so many of colleagues play the French Romantic literature or, of course, Bach, but we as artists need to find corners of repertoire where light needs to be shed so that we hear music by other people.  As a result I will be doing another CD in the Ukraine during the summer of 2018 of Ukrainian contemporary composers.

 Because of my interest in Eastern Europe, I was elected a member of the Harriman Institute here at Columbia where I now have access to grant monies and support for this work.  The Harriman Institute promotes scholarship and the arts to bridge the gap between the East and the West.
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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.

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You are invited

Jeannine and David Jordan present

Around the World in 80 Minutes
Organ and Multi-media Concert Experience

Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 3:00 p.m.

“Who’s on Third” Concert Series

Woodburn United Methodist Church

700 Cascade Drive

Woodburn, Oregon

Freewill offering

Interview with Dr. Gail Archer

 Jeannine:  Please introduce yourself to our readers.  What is your music background?  What drew you to the organ?

 Dr. Archer:  I’m Gail Archer and I am Director of Music at Barnard College at Columbia University and organist at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.

 I’ve been singing in choirs since I was 8 years old.  My father sang in the church choir and being part of church music was normal in our family.  I heard organs from the time I was very small.  I started playing piano when I was 8 years old and as soon as my legs were long enough – at age 13 – I started playing the organ as well.  I pursued music from the beginning and always sang in choirs and always played keyboard instruments.  Then I got a Bachelor’s degree, two Masters Degrees and a DMA – all in music.

 I’ve been teaching at one level or another since I was 21 years old.  I taught elementary, junior high, high school and I’ve been here at Columbia for thirty years.  Music is my life, I’m delighted to report.

 Jeannine:  You certainly have an amazing multi-faceted music career with your work as an international concert organist and recording artist, a choral conductor and lecturer, the director of the music program at Barnard College, director of the artist and young organ artist recital series at Central Synagogue, New York City, and the founder of Musforum, an international network for women organists.   We have much to talk about!

 Let’s look first at your position as the director of the music program at Barnard College and college organist at Vassar College.  What would you like to share about this work?

 Dr. Archer:  I have been at Barnard for thirty years and I built the music program that exists here.  We have music majors and Barnard sponsors all of the vocal program for the University.  I direct the 80 voice concert choir and the 20 voice chamber choir, teach music history, advise students, sit on committees, curriculum.  I also do the organ program at Vassar College, which I also built.  It’s a lively concern with a fifteen organ students.

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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.

Taking Organ Concerts Out of the “Potted-Palm” Mode

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.

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.

The Satirist – Daniel Gawthrop

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.

 

 

Music Critic for The Washington Post

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.

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