Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

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

A video trailer of Around the World in 80 Minutes

Click the image below to view a video trailer of our newest organ and multimedia concert experience, Around the World in 80 Minutes.  All the scenes are from the sixteen countries we visit during the concert.   The music is also from the concert and consists of music by native composers of those sixteen countries based on indigenous melodies.

80m-poster-small-240

Visit www.aroundtheworldin80minutes.org to discover more.  To chat with us about our unique audience-engaging concerts, please contact me at jeannine@promotionmusic.org.

An interview with Robert Ampt

Jeannine:  Please share anything else from your life story that would be of interest to our readers.
Mr. Ampt:  Three things come to mind:
1. American organist and carillonist Amy Johansen (who in now my wife) came into my life around thirty years ago following our initial meeting in the bar of Kings College, Cambridge.  Amy was, and still is, a startlingly brilliant organist who was soon to make her first CD – the music of Naji Hakim, with whom she had been studying, and who recommended her for the CD. Amy has an impeccable sense of rhythm and some splendid practice techniques which were passed on to her from Naji.  I have benefited from both of these aspects.

2. For around three decades I have been the organist/choirmaster of Sydney’s German Lutheran Church.

 

 

The church is very small, has zero acoustic and houses a very fine seventeen-stop mechanical action organ from Schuke of what used to be West Berlin.  All hymns are played and harmonized from just the melody, and each hymn is introduced by an improvised prelude.  This process has been a marvelous and rigorous teacher.     Before each prelude, decisions need to be made so that not only the music, but also the text, is introduced.  Decisions to be made include volume (loud/soft), form (duo, melody in which voice, melody in pedal on 16′, 8′ or 4′, fugal, melody ornamented or unadorned, chorale prelude with interludes, melody in octaves, harmonic language (tradition/modern), one or more keyboards …  An important aspect is that these preludes are always performed with a listening audience, so that every note played (even the surprises!) must be considered correct and part of the music.
Improvising these thousands of preludes has had a direct influence on the forms and styles of my composing.  Some movements are quite short and could be considered similar to “chorale prelude” styles, including sets of variations. Overall I have learnt both fluency and consistency of style/language within pieces from my service playing.

3. Finally, it is impossible to be playing one of the world’s great organs without being influenced by it.

 

The magnificent Hill organ in the Sydney Town, the largest in the world at the time of its opening in 1890 (5 mans/ped, 126 speaking stops with no borrowing or extension and a true 64′ pedal stop), has taught me that great organs can convincingly play all music from all periods.  At a “toccata” concert last year, for example, the music ranged from Frescobaldi (elevation toccata) to Messiaen (Dieu parmi nous) with Bach (T & F in F major) and Widor in between. If I fail to play this range of music, many, even if they attend a church regularly, will be totally unaware of its existence.
Although the organ dates from 1890 and is obviously ideally suited for the music of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the splendid 16′ Principal Chorus on the Great, which includes almost a dozen ranks of mixtures, is the thrilling heart and soul of the instrument, and splendidly suitable for the great northern repertoire of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  This organ has taught me about the spaciousness and majesty of this music – which, in its turn, is the heart and soul of our instrument’s repertoire.
This organ has also taught me how a great organ should look.  Too many large organs, including in civic situations, have uninspiring facades often designed by architects. The case of the Sydney organ was designed by an organbuilder who was also the foremost authority on historic organ cases – Dr Arthur Hill. Based on some of the greatest organs of his time – St Bavo in Haarlem and St Jakobi in Stralsund – the Sydney case is simply breathtaking with its size, its perfect balance of towers and flats, and its beautiful detail.

Jeannine:  Thank you for sharing the intriguing story of your life as an organist.

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Excerpted from an interview published in the June 2017 Pro-Motion Music newsletter.

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.

Robert Ampt Interview continued

Jeannine:  Your extensive performance career includes solo concerts as well as those with your wife, organist Amy Johansen.  Together you have developed two specialties – the playing of organ duets, and the presentation of children’s ‘Introduction to the Organ’ programs.

What are the challenges/joy of performing duet concerts?  What repertoire is included in these concerts?
Mr. Ampt:  Duet playing is surprisingly different to solo playing.  For a start many, particularly American, consoles are deliberately designed for the convenience of a single player on the middle of the bench.  Any departure from this position makes the pedalboard, in particular, quite uncomfortable to play.  For duet playing a flat/straight pedalboard is definitely the easiest. On the other hand, ample and convenient registration aids together with the presence of fanfare reeds make many American organs well suited to duet playing.  Compared to solo playing registration for duets is significantly more complicated, particularly when playing transcriptions. And of course both players must agree on the choices.  We find that preparation time on an unknown instrument is approximately doubled for duet programs. And there will be no point in being shy about occasional close physical contact.
We perform a mixture of original organ duets (eg Merkel, Beethoven, Hakim, Mozart, Bedard, Ampt), and transcriptions (eg William Tell Overture, Saint Saens III, 1812 Overture, Mid-Summer Night’s Dream overture).
Playing in time together raises an interesting issue.  Playing metronomically accurately is the easiest was to stay together, but it also produces the most heartless and empty performances. So a definite challenge in duet playing is to be able to play together while still allowing rhythmic flexibility to colour and enliven the music, just as with the performance of chamber music.
Jeannine:  Please describe your “Introduction to the Organ” programs.

Mr. Ampt:  The aim of these presentations is to offer approximately 25 unbroken minutes of total fun and enjoyment in a situation where the organ is the centre-piece, followed by all children having a play.  Those who have brought (usually piano) music can play their whole piece while non-players are encouraged to simply “improvise”.
The actual presentations give the impression that Amy (on the organ) and I (writer, arranger and narrator) are just having a good time imparting lots of information.  But in reality the presentations are tightly organized and fully scripted, with most of the narrations delivered by memory to give the impression of spontaneity.  We have often performed Daniel Burton’s Rex, The King of Instruments (with changes appropriate to the local instrument and culture), and frequently use 5 – 10 minute segments using TV, film and football club themes presented in appropriately varied ways, for which I have write narratives.  There may also be an “I spy…” segment and a quiz Yell-a-thon.

 

Jeannine:  I recently learned your delightful yet challenging organ composition, Concert Etude on an Australian Folk-Tune.  Do you often use indigenous Australian melodies in your composition?

 

Mr. Ampt:  My first published music – Australian Christmas Suite for Organ – treats, somewhat as chorale preludes, five of the Australian Christmas Carols (Wheeler/James) which were published in the 1940s.  The texts of these delightful carols mention the heat, dust and fires of Christmas time and allude to Australian flora and fauna. Definitely no snow in the paddocks. In addition to the Concert Etude you mentioned (based on “Pub with no Beer”), there is also a set of concert variations for four feet on Waltzing Matilda.  Audiences seem to find this piece quite entertaining, with several American organ duet teams having it in their repertoires.
  Many seem to think that my most successful solo organ work is “Elijah on the Mountain”, inspired by the passage in Kings II where Elijah recognizes his god in the “still, small voice”. The first in a recently published set of Three Trumpet Pieces is also proving popular. Besides the organ music, there is also music for oboe/organ and piano/organ.
I have also arranged and written a considerable quantity of Christmas music for choir.  Some of this is a capella, but most is with organ accompaniment. All of this music was originally prepared for the annual Christmas at the Sydney Town Hall concert – a very traditional Christmas celebration based on the Nine Lessons and Carols which always sells out. For this event I have also arranged several of the well-known carols with organ/brass fanfares and accompaniments which can be used with large choir and congregation.  I would classify the style as traditional and harmonic. All of this music is published.
Although I have never had formal composition lessons, I do consider my learning in this area to have come from three sources. The first was the playing, in my early years, of countless high quality hymns harmonized by properly trained musicians.   A natural feeling for good and correct harmonisations is now normal for me.  The second was/is the music of the great composers; those whose music exhibits both form and passion.  These composers extend from Bach to Hakim. The third will be mentioned below in regard to my church-playing requirements.

 

Jeannine:  Where can one find your compositions, recordings, other publications?
Mr. Ampt:  The website “Birralee Publishing” has a sadly incomplete list of my works. Best to email direct to robertampt@tpg.com.au  Most of the CD recordings can be found on the Move Records site, including “Joy to the World”, which contains much of the Christmas music already referred to, and “Organ at the Opera” which includes the Waltzing Matilda duet.

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Excerpted from the June 2017 Pro-Motion Music newsletter.

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.

Around the World in 80 Minutes returns to Oregon

You are invited to the:

Willamette Valley Premiere of

Around the World in 80 Minutes – 80m-poster-small-240
a benefit concert for the
completion of the pipe organ at
First United Methodist Church of Albany, Oregon

Keep the story and legacy of the pipe organ alive. Come and feast on the incredible music you’ll hear at this benefit concert. Be a part of the fervor to finish this magnificent organ installation.  Generations to come will remember and thank you.

Join us in supporting the realization of this momentous and worthy project.

SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2017 at 4:00 p.m.  

Albany First United Methodist Church.

1115 28th Avenue, Albany, Oregon

For more information contact Dr. Jeannine Jordan at jeannine@promotionmusic.org

What is Around the World in 80 Minutes?

… the exciting title of this new show by Jeannine and David Jordan keeps its promise: as spectator and listener I was taken on a trip around the world that provided glimpses of the beautiful rolling hills of England and its Roman churches, majestic cathedrals in Paris, allowed me to feel part of a procession during Passion Week in Spain, invited me into Johann S. Bach’s Germany, took me into the somber atmosphere of a Polish orphanage during World War II .. and this was only the first part of the ‘trip’ that went on to Nigeria, Lebanon, Israel, Taiwan, Australia… the list goes on! The blend of carefully selected and masterfully played pieces of music and visuals that reflected the music and the characteristics of the countries – or that were simply entertaining and humorous – made the journey enjoyable, fun and unforgettable. This show will undoubtedly be a favorite for many! The organ shines in its seemingly infinite musical expression and potential – who associates ‘La Bamba’ with the organ? From now on – I will! When the journey is over you sit back and think: “I would like to do this again!”   Ulla Mundil, concert attendee

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Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist, and David Jordan, media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multi-media concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, Bach and Sons, and From Sea to Shining Sea.  Contact Dr. Jordan at jeannine@promotionmusic.org for information.

Godwin Sadoh and intercultural music – Interview continued

Jeannine:  Intercultural music is described as that in which elements from two or more cultures are integrated.  Please describe your compositional technique and how it exhibits intercultural tendencies?

Dr. Sadoh:  My compositions exemplify the process of intercultural music as three distinct cultures are vividly and copiously utilized in them; these cultures are Nigerian/African, European, and American.  Jazz idiom in some of my early piano works is the major American influence on my music.  As regards Nigeria, it could be further broken down to the influence of the Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa cultural traits.  In terms of Africa as a continent, I have incorporated elements from South Africa and Ghana into my piano works especially the ten-movement Childhood Dreams.  The Nigerian musical elements are quite glaring in my music because I always want my music to be conceptualized in that way, music written by a modern Nigerian composer.  I deliberately make painstaking efforts to infuse a lot of Nigerian musical flavors into my music.  Hence, I employ Nigerian traditional, popular, and church music resources in my compositions.  Some of these elements are the rhythmic patterns, tonal organizations, parallel harmony, formal structures, timbres, folk melodies, instrumental resources, indigenous languages as exemplified in my Five Nigerian Songs for Vocal Solo and piano, Three Wedding Songs for Soprano and piano, and most of my choral songs that are in Yoruba.

Quite a number of my organ works are based on indigenous church tunes, traditional, and folksongs.  In terms of tonality, I combine European pitch collections with indigenous Nigerian tonal schemes such as diatonic, pentatonic, hexatonic, and octatonic scales, atonality, as well as the 12-tone row method.   For illustration, Memoirs of Childhood for piano is a three-movement work based mainly on pentatonic scale.  My Nigerian Organ Symphony is largely influenced by 19th century French organ symphonic techniques, in particular, Louis Vierne and Charles Marie-Widor.  Even though the character, style, and registrations of the five movement work are influenced by French music, the Nigerian Organ Symphony is infused with distinct African music creative and performance procedures such as scales, ostinati, call-and-response, interlocking rhythmic patterns, dance nuances, folk melodies, bell patterns, foot stamping, and hand clapping rhythms.  Structurally, the forms of my music ranges from simple binary, ternary, rondo, theme and variations, sonata form, aria, strophic, through-composed, canonic imitation, contrapuntal forms to other free styles.  In the area of instrumental resources, I do conjoin Western and Nigerian traditional instruments, such as the  Fisherman Song for Flute and Organ, African Nostalgia for Xylophone, Harmattan Overture for Symphony Orchestra and Nigerian Instruments, and Folk Dance for a Percussion Ensemble of Four Players. 

One of my most successful intercultural compositions is The Misfortune of a Wise Tortoise for Organ and Narrator (An African Folktale).  It is a work created to introduce kids to the nature and workings of the pipe organ.  This composition could be regarded as a “Nigerian program music,” in which the organ replicates the narrated folk story in sonic space.  There are 8 short pieces that are actually variations of the original song that goes with the folktale.  Each organ piece is given divers registrations to introduce the children to the various sounds that the pipe organ is capable of producing.  I am always excited to hear comments from organists around the world telling me how much they enjoy playing my music and that my compositions are practically different in style from all the other organ repertoire they have ever played.  That is so cool to hear.  They could feel the Africanesques in my music.  Here are some comments from selected organists and pianist:

  1. i) In a letter on March 17, 2008, American organist, John Abuya, writes: “Dear Dr. Sadoh, . . . Your music is interesting and delightfully refreshing. I have nothing like it in my repertoire.  I am entranced by the authentic African melodies and rhythms.  You can be assured that I will use them in my service playing at church and my organ recitals.  God has truly blessed you with a great gift. . .”
  2. ii) In The Organ, a British journal, August 2008, No. 345, A review of the Nigerian Organ Symphony, Roger Rayner, writes: “Sadoh makes an important contribution to our repertoire in introducing African rhythms and a style of playing possibly unfamiliar to most of us.”

iii)  From Michael Vollmer, German organist, Bielefeld, Westphalia: “Godwin, let me tell you briefly about last Sunday.  We had a feast with our congregation, we had fellowship the whole day. My best friend and I lead the Gospel Choir and we sang some songs.  I had your Nigerian Suite No. 2 with me and we were so full of Gospel music that (when everyone was having lunch outside) I pulled out your Suite and started playing.  Of course, I held back “K’a Juba,” this is for tomorrow. 🙂 But I played the last movement, the “Royal Dance.”  My friend grabbed a pair of Bongos and joined me.  It was so much fun, so vivid, so full of life.  We played the entire suite *three times* and hearing us from the outside, people would pop in and listen.  When we finished, the church was a quarter full and your music earned much applause! 🙂 Thank you for this music, it is new to me and although I may not always understand the background, I feel the life and the spirit behind every written bar!” [April 14, 2011].

  1. iv) Stephen Jenkins of the American Guild of Organists, Holland, Michigan Chapter, writes: “I find Godwin Sadoh’s work fun to play and refreshing. I love the way he uses Nigerian riffs on the pipe organ.  Dude rocks.”  He made this remark after listening to the recording of “Konkonkolo” from Five African Dances for organ solo. [February 24, 2015].
  2. v) E-mail message on February 10, 2016, Italian international concert pianist, Silvia Belfiore, comments on my compositional style: “Your music plays an important role in my repertory. The interest that it arouses is extraordinary.  Your music is characterized by metric mixtures, syncopation, rhythmic counterpoints, and above all, clarity and transparency.  Through your music, I discovered that the process of composing music and creating hierarchies within the voices of a piece are the dichotomy between traditional practicum and modern expressionism.  I can also attest that the public reactions were amazing everywhere I played your music, in any country, and for any type of audience.”

 

  1. vi) Facebook comment on February 20, 2016, American musician, Daniel Walton, writes, “This is super cool. I’ve never heard these definitely African sounds out of an organ, and it’s such a joyous noise.” Reacting to Mark Pace’s performance of “Ijo Oba” (Royal Dance) from Nigerian Suite No. 2 for organ.

vii)  Chase Castle: “Looking forward to playing selections from Godwin Sadoh‘s Impressions from an African Moonlight.  Sadoh is a Nigerian organist, composer, and ethnomusicologist, who offers trans-cultural and exciting modern organ repertoire.” [October 8, 2016].

viii)  Monty Bennett: “Godwin, they loved your pieces! You should have heard the applause after the toccata!!!! The best part was that because the console is turned so the organist looks at the auditorium, there was a camera placed on me and was shown on a big screen at the front of the hall. They could see my feet playing the toccata and the fast pedal work.”  This is a report of the audience response to the Middle-Eastern Premiere of Nigerian Suite No. 1 for solo organ, at the prestigious Israel International Organ Festival 2016-2017, under the auspices of the Israel Organ Association, at the Hecht Museum Auditorium, Haifa University, Israel, on February 24, 2017.
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Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist, and David Jordan, media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multi-media concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, Bach and Sons, and From Sea to Shining Sea.  Contact Dr. Jordan at jeannine@promotionmusic.org for information.

 

Godwin Sadoh – ethnomusicologist – Interview continued

Dr. Sadoh:  My extensive researches on African ethnomusicology, intercultural musicology, modern African art music, Nigerian church music, organ building, and composers, have been published in reputable international journals such as The Diapason, The Hymn, The Organ, The Organ Club Journal, Journal of the Royal College of Organists, The Organ: An Encyclopedia, The Musical Times, Africa, Choral Journal, Percussive Notes, MLA Notes, NTAMA, Living Music Journal, and Composer-USA.  In fact, one of my books, Intercultural Dimensions in Ayo Bankole’s Music, topped the bestseller list as No. 1 on Amazon in 2007.  My books have been catalogued in some of the most prestigious archival centers and university libraries around the world, including the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Libraries, Harvard University Library, Yale University Library, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College Music Library–New Hampshire, UCLA Music Library, Duke University Library–North Carolina, Stanford University Library–California, Southern Methodist Libraries, Dallas–Texas, Center for Black Music Research–Chicago, Bayreuth University Library–Germany, Tufts University Library–Massachusetts, University of London, School of Oriental Studies and African Studies–London, Cathedral Church of Christ Library–Lagos, and the Music Libraries of the University of Pretoria, University of South Africa, University of Kwazulu-Natal, University of the Witwatersrand–Johannesburg, all nestled in South Africa.  This is just to mention a few.

I am always excited and grateful to see my published articles and books listed as references in theses and dissertations, and in the syllabi of both undergraduate and graduate courses at colleges and universities around the world.  As regards my compositions, they have been performed all over the world including Birmingham, Cameroon, Canada, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Scotland, Tanzania, South Africa, and of course, the United States, where my music is performed regularly in churches and schools every week.  Since my return to Nigeria in 2013 after several years of sojourn in the United States, I have come across a lot of Masters and PhD students and Music Instructors who informed me of how useful my scholarly publications have being to them when writing their theses or dissertations.  My compositions too have been widely performed at churches, schools, colleges and universities all over Nigeria.  The climax of my creative reward in Nigeria were the mammoth concerts featuring only my compositions that took place in the nation’s capital, Abuja, on April 29, 2016, and on August 6, 2016, at the prestigious Cathedral Church of Christ, Lagos.  The third phase of the concert would feature only my organ compositions at the Cathedral Church later in 2017; while the Grand Finale would take place in my late mother’s home town in summer 2017.  At this Finale, a 100-Mass Choir would perform my choral songs to the glory of God.  To me, these are priceless and quantum experiences in my musical career!
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Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist, and David Jordan, media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multi-media concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, Bach and Sons, and From Sea to Shining Sea.  Contact Dr. Jordan at jeannine@promotionmusic.org for information.

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