Jeannine: In exploring repertoire for our upcoming organ and multi-media concert, Around the World in 80 Minutes, I recently discovered several of your compositions based on Taiwanese folk songs. You are broadening the classical organ repertoire with these solo organ compositions. Your compositional style has been described as “charming” and “irresistible.” Please describe your compositions for the organ and what makes this music unique in our vast organ repertoire.
Ms. Chen: Awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, I was able to study in Taiwan. Since my father was raised in Taiwan and I am ½ Chinese ancestry, I made it my mission to study Taiwanese folk songs and bring those songs to a new audience through my organ compositions. Wayne Leupold, www.wayneleupold.com, has published my works including, A Taiwanese Suite, Three Taiwanese Folksongs, and an organ demonstrator for high schoolers and adults based on Chinese folk tales and melodies, The Moon Lady.
Jeannine: Your performances take you throughout the world as soloist and with orchestras. What drives you to share this incredible instrument, the organ, with the audiences of the world?
Ms. Chen: I want people to experience the organ in new ways. I want the audience to connect with the organ and its myriad of sounds. For that reason, I value programs that are stylistically varied. The average audience member is usually not versed in classical music and especially in organ repertoire so I tend to create programs with a number of short pieces showing great contrast. My programs may include Bach, Durufle, Chinese folk music, a Jazz Prelude of Gershwin, or a transcription of Peer Gynt Suite. I want to make it interesting for the listener.
Jeannine: Thank you to this creative organist for sharing her story with us. To read more of Ms. Chen’s work and find her performance schedule, please visit her website at www.chelseachen.com.
Excerpted from an interview published in the August 2016 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter. Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist and David Jordan, media specialist are the owners of Pro-Motion Music and the creators of organ and multi-media concert experiences. To learn more visit www.promotionmusic.org.