Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for the ‘Bach and Sons’ Category

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.

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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.

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.

Dunstan House

Jeannine:  You are also a music publisher, establishing the Dunstan House in 1991.  What are the challenges, joys of publishing and promoting your own music so successfully – case in point, Mr. Gawthrop’schoral piece, Sing Me to Heaven,has half million copies in print, and has become one of the most performed and recorded choral works in modern history!

Mr. Gawthrop:  My wife and I started Dunstan House when I realized that the companies which had been publishing my things up to that point were forced by reality to profitably sell as many copies as possible of each title, and that this quite inevitably led to editorial decisions about what to publish and what to allow to eventually go out of print which were not necessarily in my best interests. The only way to control those decisions was to own the process, so Dunstan House was established to allow me to publish even the things which would probably never turn a profit, and to keep in print even things which didn’t sell thousands of copies each year.

 

Obviously, the joys of self-publication are pretty much wrapped up right there. The challenges also follow pretty logically—no one but me will do any advertising or promotion for my catalog, so when there’s little or no money for those efforts (which is most of the time) very little gets done. Accordingly, I am looking at a catalog which is, from my perspective, filled with undiscovered gems which are unknown to nearly everyone but the original commissioning body.  Please visit http://www.dunstanhouse.com/ to peruse our catalog.

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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.

Composer, organist, conductor, teacher, adjudicator, publisher, writer, music critic, and satirist-a Renaissance man!

Guest Artist Interview
with Daniel Gawthrop 

Jeannine: Who is Daniel Gawthrop? Please introduce yourself.

Mr. Gawthrop:  I started musical activities in elementary school, played trombone in the band beginning in junior high, sang in school and church choirs and fell in love with the organ
as a youngster. Supportive parents and readily available instruction in a fine public school system helped me develop my skills. I began college as an organ performance major but quickly discovered that my piano technique and background were inadequate to allow me to succeed. A few years in the Navy (mostly in northern Germany) and marriage helped mature me a bit and when I returned to college the switch to composition seemed natural.

From that point I have been obsessed with creating music which will touch people and lift them up. Much of that music has been written for church use, but there is also a substantial body of choral works with secular texts. Music for my favorite instrument, the organ, also comprises a good percentage of my output, and orchestral pieces appear when those rare commissions allow.

Jeannine:  What brought you to the world of music?

Mr. Gawthrop:  I honestly cannot remember a time when it was not central to my life. I’m forced to assume I was born with the need to hear and create music—it’s as necessary as food…especially chocolate!
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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.

Thoughts on art

J:  Any other thoughts/ideas you’d like to share with our readers?

Dr. Spritzer:  Art for art’s sake is of tremendous value, but our colleagues and our friendships that can give it all personal depth and connection and life. The ways in which we support each other are what make our community great and lasting. Do everything you can to support those around you (a high tide raises all ships!), and pay it forward, and never underestimate the value of kindness. Write thank-you notes! Take risks, and do the things you fear the most and be true to yourself and your calling. We are all so, so fortunate to live in a time when we can devote our lives to music and teaching and liturgy and scholarship, and I feel tremendous gratitude for that. It has not always been so, and is still not so in many parts of the world. Thank you to everyone who has supported me time and time again, and I will always do the same!

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Excerpted from the Feature Article of the September 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.

Dr. Damin Spritzer Interview – Part 3

J:  Your summer performance tour recently took you to historic German cities playing incredible organs.  What is it about performing on notable instruments in a place such as the Predigerkirche in Erfurt that is so moving and memorable?

Dr. Spritzer:  Giving performances in Europe is one of my greatest joys! It makes me feel so profoundly connected to the history of the organ. This has been an amazing year of travel, and I pray that it will continue in the years to come.

As I tried to describe earlier , I am deeply moved by how truly ancient our instrument is. This past summer in particular, I played organs that are older than the founding of America. That really, really, really makes you stop and pause, and think about the generations of scholars and artisans and builders and composers that have all come before us, and that are among us right this minute, and who are yet to come in the future. The beauty of Europe and historically-treasured instruments is so special, it moves me to tears to hear those sounds and be in those places. Thinking about Bach’s children being baptized a few feet away at the Herderkirche, or Liszt giving lessons to Reubke at the Nicolaikirche, or Cavaillé-Coll climbing the steps to the organ to keep voicing…It always feels new, and yet it’s not, and I’m certainly not the only one to experience this happiness and sense of connection! But I love every single experience.

It’s a serious privilege and a gift to have those opportunities, and to walk where so many of the musicians we revere lived their lives. For me it adds a level of gravity to my own preparation and scholarship, as well as a deeply emotional appreciation for being able to do what I do. It’s tremendous to experience such incredible history and diversity (and food, and wine, and culture!) by only taking short train rides, as well. That’s something I really love about traveling in Europe and work hard to take advantage of when there.

J:  As a recording artist you have introduced us to the music of Rene Louis Becker.  Why is his music important in the organ and music world?

Dr. Spritzer:  René Becker is a perfect example of a recently-living composer who gave his life to church music and composing and teaching, but through no fault of his own was not remembered right away by subsequent generations. And it’s lovely, lovely music, and he represents both the European and American schools of composition and performance.  (Click here for Dr. Spritzer’s recordings of Becker’s music.) I was very fortunate to be able to work with his music and his lovely descendants who were so gracious to me.

I hope to find more composers and pieces that similarly can be restored to a place in our larger body of repertoire. The discovery process can be time-consuming but so satisfying. I’m not a composer, but if I were, I would hope to be remembered similarly, and to feel that my contributions were of lasting value. So since I do not create new music, I can promote the music of our wonderful colleagues who do! I have several upcoming projects in that vein about which I am very, very hopeful.
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Excerpted from the Feature Article of the September 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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