Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for the ‘church organist,’ Category

A left turn

(Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview with Howard Wagner, comptroller of Harpsichord Clearing House as published in the August 2018 edition of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter)

Jeannine:  Degree earned at the University of Michigan.  What was next?

Howard:  Ah…a left turn with advantages shall we say.  After receiving my MBA degree, I returned to the East Coast and went to work for General Foods Corporation, White Plains, NY.  This was during a major recession and inflationary times, and very few companies were hiring.  So, food was the place to go.  The people were all very nice, very bright, and the company was a Fortune 500 corporation.  But, I knew this was not for me long term.  After five years, I was recruited to take a position at Standard Brands Corp. in Manhattan.  This was a very different environment.  While the General Foods employees were well educated and could discuss cultural things, the Standard Brands employees, including the executives were mostly uneducated and had worked their way up through the ranks. They amused themselves by drinking and cursing. They were also very political, as they could not rely on their skills to get themselves ahead.  Again, really not for me.

The advantage of being in midtown Manhattan was that one was surrounded by all sorts of culture. I often would stay in the city after work to attend a concert or museum lecture.

Jeannine:  How did those advantages mold your future?

Howard:  On my lunch hour I sometimes walked over to the Rodgers Organ Studio at Carnegie Recital Hall and would converse with Rick Tripodi and Jim Ramsey.  I learned at that time, that Doug Marshall who was a student of Virgil Fox at the same time as I, was selling Rodgers Organs in New England.  The wheels began to turn.  I am an organist, Virgil Fox was now touring on a Rodgers organ, I have a business degree and music, I have real business experience, hmmmmm.  I paid Doug Marshall a visit, and after about a year, Doug and I became the Rodgers organ dealer in New England. Our regional representative was Dave Jordan.

After about eight years, my desire to be involved with real — rather than imitation instruments took over, and Doug and I had a mutually agreeable parting of the ways, and I left the Rodgers Dealership.  Doug was a true gentleman about it – always was and always will be a fine individual.
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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 and multi-media concert experiences.

From Virgil Fox to U of M

(Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview with Howard Wagner, comptroller of Harpsichord Clearing House as published in the August 2018 edition of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter)

Jeannine:  What was it like to meet the flamboyant and venerable Virgil Fox?

Howard:  All of the participants stood outside on the church steps awaiting the arrival of Fox.  Virgil arrived in his white Cadillac Eldorado convertible – no it was not pink as the folklore states, and he wasn’t wearing a cape – and looking out the open driver’s window said “How’re doin?” one of his standard greetings. I can picture this scene as if it were yesterday.

The Fox Master Class was both eye and ear opening for me. Virgil mentioned during the class that during the upcoming summer, he was taking on three private students at his home in NJ.  I knew at that point that I wanted to study with him – probably the following year if possible.

Time went by, and several months before the next summer approached I told my father of my interest in studying the organ with Fox.  He appeared to make a mental note of the request.

A few weeks later, my dad said to me at dinner, I spoke with Virgil Fox today and he will take you on as a student this summer.  I was speechless, since Fox was like a god to me, and couldn’t understand how my dad was able to do this, so I asked, “how did you do that?”  He replied I called his management, (Richard Torrence), and got his phone number, and called him up. I thought that was amazing.

And the rest, as they say is history.  I studied for a year with Virgil, and it transformed my playing and understanding of music.  My senior year English teacher at Poly Prep was Miles Kastendieck, who was a music critic for one of the major New York City Newspapers concurrent with his teaching duties at Poly. Even Kastendieck, who from his reviews never liked very much, was quite complimentary when I had a chance to perform at Poly during dome of the music programs.

Jeannine:  After the tremendous life-changing experience as a mere high-schooler, I might add, what was to follow?

Howard:  It was on to the University of Michigan, organ and piano study and the requisite music classes. However, it was at U of M that I was exposed to the harpsichord.  The historical harpsichord revival was in its infancy – lots of kits – and few builders.  There was a fellow named Randy who established the “Bach Club” and it often featured harpsichord performers which included Penny Crawford, who used to perform on her Burton kit harpsichord, and Bruce Gustofson, a doctoral student then, who performed on his own William Dowd harpsichord.  So, it was early early on that I noted the vast difference between a kit and professionally built harpsichord.

Jeannine:  Is this what drew you into the early music world?

Howard:  Yes, at this point, I was hooked on authentic performance of early music.  Anthony Newman, although not from U of M was a rising star and I became a big fan particularly of his pedal harpsichord recordings. BTW Virgil Fox sat on one of Newman’s juries for one of his degrees describing him as a madman and a genius. Similar personalities attract!

So that was the beginning of involvement in the Early Music World.  I went on to get an MBA, and had a teaching fellowship, and with money I had earned and saved was able to purchase my first harpsichord from Eric Herz.

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The Seven P’s

Proper Prior Practice Prevents Piddly Poor Performance

Once again, David and I have been traveling and performing and once again, I’ve met creative colleagues — teachers, performers, church musicians all.  Of course, we talk about our work in all its guises and share ideas, thoughts, repertoire, and pithy comments.

From my conversations with Gregory Largent in Saginaw, Michigan comes the inspiration for this article — the 7 P words.   These seven little words just happen to be very apropos this month with the Jordan Organ Studio Spring Recital just a few weeks away.

Let’s take this pithy little phrase apart and see just what we performers are up against!

Proper = of the required type; suitable or appropriate.

Prior = existing or coming before in time, order, or importance.

Practice = to perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.

Prevents = keep (something) from happening or arising.

Piddly = pathetically trivial; trifling.

Poor = worse than is usual, expected, or desirable; of a low or inferior standard or quality.

Performance = a person’s rendering of a dramatic role, song, or piece of music.

LEAD TO

Pretty, Pleasant, Pleasing, Profound, Polished, Passionate Performances!

HAPPY PRACTICING!

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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.

Practice as Devotion

Ideas for incorporating devotions into your organ practice

Enter into the practice session with a short prayer or moment of silence to center yourself.

Be mindful to review in advance what you would like to focus on or accomplish with the practice session. Warm up with the technical exercises first. Demonstrate self-denial (sacrifice) by first practicing those least pieces (or sections of a piece) that you like to avoid, save for last, or sometimes skip altogether.

In the middle of your practice, take a break from actually playing and read a Psalm, the lyrics to a favorite hymn, or a devotional reading from one of the resources mentioned earlier.

Meditate a few minutes focusing on what you have read. Resume your practice with a gracious attitude while reflecting on how incredibly awesome the organ is at expressing musically the text, theme, mood, and/or sentiments of a hymn or repertoire.

Always end a practice session on a positive note and with gratitude.

One option is to close your organ practice with a “postlude” – something you can play musically with confidence — a piece that brings you joy. This may even be a simple composition with a beautiful soundscape that is not technically complex.

The possibilities are endless for connecting contemplative spirituality or devotional meditation with organ practice are endless – allow yourself to be creative.
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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.

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