Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for the ‘Bach and Sons’ Category

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.

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.

Meet Godwin Sadoh

Excerpted from a Guest Artist Interview in the April 2017 issue of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter

Jeannine:  Born in Lagos, Nigeria, what were your first musical experiences?

Dr. Sadoh:  My first musical experiences in Lagos could be attributed to six entities or stages: My late mother, Taiwo Akinsanya, frequently sang to me and my other siblings a lot of Nigerian traditional music, pop music, church songs, and American Hollywood music by Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, and John Wayne;  My second encounter with music as a child was in the company of my sisters who shared folktale stories and the folksongs that go with them; The third point of my musical experience in Lagos were the observances of traditional festivals, naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals, house warming parties, that involved singing, hand clapping, playing of musical instruments, and dancing in different parts of Lagos;  I will give the fourth encounter to my days at the Eko Boys’ High School where I was introduced to choral songs and piano accompaniment in the school’s choir, and subsequently appointed by the Teaching staff as the Organist and Choirmaster of the school at the tender age of 16; The fifth place was at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Idi-Oro.  I joined the choir, sang tenor, became Assistant Organist and played several services, especially when the main organist was out of time; Finally, at the Cathedral Church of Christ Choir, I was formally introduced to advanced church music, complex compositions such as oratorios and cantatas, responses, and chanting of the Psalms of DavidThe choir performed works by notable composers such as John Ireland, William Byrd, John Stainer, Bernard Rose, David Willcocks, John Rutter, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Samuel Wesley, Thomas Attwood, Charles Villiers Stanford,  Malcolm Archer, George Thalben-Ball, Sydney Nicholson, Hubert Howells, Hubert Parry, Edward Elgar, Mary Kay Beall, Eric Thiman, Healey Willan, Walford Davies, Edward Bairstow, William Harris, Orlando Gibbons, Martin Shaw, William Boyce, William Matthaias, Robert Cooke, and Charles Stanley.

One of the criteria to get admitted to the Cathedral Choir as an adult was the ability to sight read music as fast as possible because the choir sings numerous difficult compositions every week.  It takes the choir about three months to prepare the entire three-part Messiah for concert during Easter season.  Other major works performed by the Cathedral Choir were Mendelssohn’s Elijah, St. Paul, and Hymn of Praise; Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio; Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast; George Frederic Handel’s Messiah, Ode to Joy, Judas Maccabaeus, and Ode on Saint Cecilia’s Day; Joseph Haydn’s Creation; John Stainer’s Daughter of Jairus, and Crucifixion; Walford Davies’ The TempleIt was also in Lagos that I practiced on the piano for at least six hours daily and took the piano, theory, and general musicianship graded external examinations of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, London.  When it was getting close to my practical exams, I would stay behind on Sundays after worship to practice from 12:00PM to 6:00PM when the evening service would commence.

Jeannine:  How and where did you discover the world of the organ?

Dr. Sadoh: I taught myself to play on the electronic-digital organ while at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Idi-Oro.  However, I was exposed to the pipe organ at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos, when I joined in 1980.  I still remember the awe and amazement on my face when I first saw and heard the sound emitting from the herculean instrument known as the King of all Western instruments and a one-man orchestra.  At the end of each service on Sundays, I always ran as quickly as I could after the recession of the choir from the church, back to seat as close as possible to observe the organist play the postlude.  It was heavenly for me.  I would watch the feet of the organist as they move on the pedals and saw the pulling out of the stops and change of sound.  I wanted to play the massive instrument so badly and accompany the congregation in singing.  I received my first lesson in organ from the then Organist and Master of the Music, Charles Obayomi Phillips (1919-2007), who later appointed me as an Assisting Organist in 1982.  It was Phillips who prepared me for all my piano examinations which I passed with Merits and Distinctions.

As the Assisting Organist, I accompanied the choir rehearsals on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00PM to 7:00PM, and I played for the early morning Eucharist at 7:15AM on Sundays.  One of the most profound experiences I had at the Cathedral Church was the meeting of some of the most advanced professionally-trained organists, choir directors, and operatic singers.  I was privileged to hear preludes and postludes every Sunday, and observed several organ recitals played by the Cathedral organists and guest organists.  This was how I was introduced and got hooked to the pipe organ and its music.  In 1994, I left Nigeria to study African ethnomusicology and organ at the University of Pittsburgh, and received an MA in 1998.  My organ instructor was Robert Lord.  I earned an M. Mus. in organ and church music from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, under the tutelage of Quentin Faulkner and George Ritchie.  At Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, I distinguished myself in 2004 as the first African to receive the Doctorate in Organ performance from any institution in the world.  I studied organ with Herndon Spillman and composition with Dinos Constantinides.
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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.

Naji Hakim at the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur and La Trinité

Dr. Hakim:  I was appointed organist at the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur in 1985 by the First Chapelain Father François de Vorges. A few months after my appointment, after an evening mass, the old Rector Monseigneur Maxime Charles asked to meet me in presence of the Maître de Chapelle. He said : “Monsieur Hakim, je tenais à faire votre connaissance avant de partir de cette basilique où j’ai été recteur pendant plus de 50 ans. Vous êtes exactement l’organiste qu’il faut pour cette basilique. Ne changez rien à ce que vous faites, ni plus ni moins! J’espère que vous resterez plus longtemps que moi ici. Et dorénavant il faudra vous appeler “Maître”. Au revoir Maestro!”  “Mister Hakim, I wanted to meet you before leaving this basilica where I have been rector for more than 50 years. You are exactly the organist we need for this basilica. Don’t change anything in what you do, no more, no less! I hope you will stay here more than myself. And from now on we must call you “Maître”. Good bye Maestro!”
It was the first and last time I met him in person. I played for several of his services before he retired. When he passed away (I had already left the Basilique to be organist at La Trinité), Rector Alain Hazemann called me and insisted that I play for his funeral, which I did.

Many people think I left Sacré-Coeur to succeed Messiaen at La Trinité. The true reason is that Rector Hazemann didn’t want to amend my contract – my family needed my presence more. I buried my heart at the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur and regret its organ and liturgy as a part of my body and soul. Both organ and music at the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur are a very important source of inspiration to my music as for example the first movement of my Seattle Concerto for organ and orchestra, the second movement of my Sonata for trumpet and organ, or my Hommage à Igor Stravinsky for organ.
  You may be interested to read an excellent article on my organ music/Lebanese influences in German by Dr Crista Miller ORGAN magazine December 2015 Schott Music, or Biography of Naji Hakim by Zeina Saleh Kayali, in French : http://www.geuthner.com/livre/figures-musicales-du-liban-naji-hakim/1107

“The melody, always the melody, that is the only and unique secret of our art.”
Charles Gounod

“Why do you want me to love the music I don’t love if I already love the music I do love?”
Erik Satie

“Music is the Word of the unspeakable!”
Naji Hakim
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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.

 

Naji Hakim’s 2

Jeannine:  What are your current projects?

Dr. Hakim:  I will premiere my Variationen über “Ein Haus voll Glorie schauet” for organ at St Nikolaus Church Frankfurt on 26 March.  Having composed a Diptyque for txistu (Basque flute) and piano and a Concerto for txistu and orchestra (the latter to be premiered this year or in 2018), I have been interested in the existing repertoire for txistu. So I am finishing now a Basque Anthology, arrangements for txistu (basque flute)/recorder/flute and keyboard (piano/harpsichord/organ) of compositions by Basque composers. It is in preparation at United Music Publishing, England.

I am preparing a chamber music concert in July in Bayonne, for txistu, wind quintet, and piano featuring a.o. my works inspired by the Basque country. It will include my Sonate Basque for piano solo (world premiere), my Diptyque for txistu and piano, my Concerto for txistu (version concertante for txistu and piano), my Carnaval for wind quintet (world premiere) and Rondo for txistu, wind quintet and piano (world premiere). Garikoitz Mendizabal, txistu; Quintet Haize; Ana Belén García, piano.
  Right now I am writing a suite for 3 trumpets, timpani and organ which I will premiere in August in Ingolstadt Dom, Germany. Dr Franz Hauk, Director of Music at Ingolstadt Dom has prompted several commissions to me, including my Pange lingua, Ouverture Libanaise, Aalaiki’ssalaam, Salve Regina, Variationen über “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” for oboe and organ, and Suite Française and now this upcoming suite!

Jeannine:  Where can one find your music?

Dr. Hakim:   Naji Hakim Scores Publishers and Naji Hakim Recordings Publishers

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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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