Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for the ‘From Sea to Shining Sea’ 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.

O Come, All Ye…Faithful?

O Come, All Ye…Faithful?
Jeannine Jordan

The Christmas tree was lit; the bows were perfectly tied on the swag — I think they were the plaid red and green bows that year.  The wedding candelabra were well disguised with fresh cut greenery and faintly glowed with a dozen candles, and the Advent wreath with all the proper colored candles in place was waiting to be lit.  The choir was nervously assembled at the back of the church for their semi-annual procession — down the middle aisle — up four steps to the communion table — left or right four steps — down two steps to the Christmas tree platform — around two corners — up two steps into the choir loft — turn — up four steps — turn and stand in place.  Complicated to say the least!

The light man was in place at the strategically placed light switchwhich allowed absolutely no sight of the sanctuary.  The coldly stoic pastor stood statue-like and prepared for the most joyous service of the year.  The organist had just finished a glorious prelude of Balbastre noels and she was ready to launch into the opening strains of “O Come, All Ye Faithful” — a very well-known but actually not oft-played hymn — just a one-time-per-year Christmas carol.

The stops were pulled on that great and powerful tracker organ — yes, it was an occasion for full organ!  The great strains sounded forth, the introduction was played, the unsmiling pastor started the procession with the congregation giving full voice to a favorite carol. 

The choir followed behind marching two-by-two:  the “red coats” and the “blue coats” in their respective and distinguishing robes.  The “blue coats” were the young upstart choir of the first service.  The “red coast” — the “I’ve sung in this very choir for 42 years” choir — normally sang in the second service.  Ah, but I digress;  that is a tale for another story.

 

The beauty of that 11:00 p.m. Midnight Candlelight Christmas Eve Service was an inspiration to behold: a great organ sounded forth, a congregation was singing with joy, and choir members made their way solemnly down the middle aisle, and up the four steps to the communion table.  There they made the turn directly in front of the not-yet-lit Advent wreath, turned, and took four steps.  Ah, the tricky part was coming: verse two of “O Come.”  The singing became a bit more indistinct as the congregation started searching for the words and the choir started negotiating the two steps down to the Christmas tree platform — around two corners — up two steps — turn — up four more steps and — (whew!) — into the choir loft.

Basses and tenors, by now not singing at all as verse three began, turned and made the final steps into the choir loft as the loudly –(but dare I say well-) played organ took over.  Verse four and the ladies of the combined choir mounted the platform, turned at the Communion table, and started down and around the dimly-lit Christmas tree.  Suddenly and without warning the lights of the ENTIRE — and I mean ENTIRE — sanctuary, including the all-important light on the music desk of the organ — went out!  BLACK!  Totally dark!  A dozen extraneous candles tried bravely to give light to the inky blackness, but to no avail.  The domino theory had begun!

The proper alto section who were just making who were just making their way past two long-reaching tree branches, were discombobulated.  They went down!  Yes, down on their hands and knees.  The all-perfect sopranos, following at the steps, also wentdown into the tree and onto the proper altos.  The “blue-coat” choir director, bringing up the rear of this procession, found herself tumbled under the tree with her most unbecoming blue-coated side facing the blind congregation as she searched frantically under the unsuspecting Christmas tree for her glasses knocked off in the fray.

Oh, and did I mention the organist?  Ah, yes!  When the glory and joyful light of that Christmas Eve night went black, her fingers ceased their faithful dance on the keys and became helpless sticks unable to find any of the proper keys to continue the carol.  But continue she did.  Also, being unable to find the stops to quiet the noise, she continued to smash keys in a random and incredibly raucous fashion.  Was it the cacophony of the angels?  Ah, but the comments hurled at the mostly deaf — and certainly now blind — sanctuary light man, probably not.  Said sound and light man simply stared as his board unaware of the chaos his simple flick of a switch had created.

What happened next?  Did the service continue?  Did it end at 12:30 — the other midnight hour — in calm and repose with the singing of “Silent Night”?  The memory has dimmed to inconsequential.
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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.

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.

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.

Guest Interview with Dr. Damin Spritzer


Jeannine:  Our newsletter readership includes not only organists, but educators, historians, and music-lovers as well.  For those who do not know you, would you kindly introduce yourself?

Dr. Spritzer:  Thank you so much for thinking of me for this interview! It’s an honor to be included. Well, I’m not sure where to start – like so many of us, I wear many musical hats and love them all. I’ve been a musician since I was quite small and studied piano, violin, cello, recorders, and flute; a recitalist and church organist my entire adult life; and a music teacher and ultimately a professor for most of that span as well. My degrees are from Oberlin, Eastman, and UNT, and though I held church positions throughout college, my full-time church positions were in Atlanta, Georgia (Peachtree Presbyterian, as their Organ Intern) and Dallas, Texas for several years (St. Rita Catholic Community with Joel Martinson, University Park United Methodist with Jody Lindh, and now St. Matthews Episcopal Cathedral with Michie Akin and Keith Franks, though that is not full-time).

It’s been my privilege to make three world-premiere CDs of the music of René Louis Becker, on whom I wrote my doctoral dissertation. A fourth disc that is collaborative with my good friend and colleague Dr. Donald Pinson (trombone) is slated for release later this year as well. My Becker research led to my multi-volume critical edition of Becker’s organ works that is published by Wayne Leupold (volume I was last year, volume II is underway, and volumes beyond that are mapped out, etc.), and a monograph is also awaiting final editing.

I absolutely love to travel and perform, and I love to teach. I have several recording projects in the works and am grateful that I can make those contributions for our instrument. I spend a great deal of time writing and researching and practicing, and seek particularly lesser-known Romantic organ music. I’m beginning my third year as a professor at the University of Oklahoma in the organ department, and am daily happy and thankful to drive up to this beautiful, beautiful campus to be part of this university and our studio.

J:  What was the moment you knew you wanted to become an organist?

Dr. Spritzer:  I always loved organ music since I was very small and my father used to play organ recordings for me (E. Power Biggs, the Poulenc concerto…) records for me, but it was honestly and literally the very first time I sat down at an organ console. I was 16 and had won a scholarship to take a year of free lessons from the Portland, Oregon AGO. The second I sat down, I just knew. It was a startling moment of clarity for me as a teenager, actually. There was nothing like it that I had experienced, even having played instruments my whole life: the glorious sounds, the touch, the aesthetic beauty of the room and stained glass…even just the physicality of the use of my whole body to play…I just knew! I loved it. And I knew nothing, and it’s only gotten better.started violin and piano fairly young, after my kindergarten teacher called my parents to make sure they knew that I would not leave the classroom piano alone. So I’d been a pianist and accompanist (choral and theatre) for years, and I had long studied violin as well as played in both major youth orchestras in the area (the Portland Youth Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra). I sang in the choirs in all my schools and often accompanied, and worked with a chamber ensemble in high school as well…but the organ was something entirely different that went straight to my heart and hands.
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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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