Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for the ‘organ and multimedia concerts’ Category

David Stabler – teacher

Jeannine:  You’re now teaching a series of music appreciation classes called The Infinite Power of Music. It’s my understanding that they are live, in the classroom classes – not online, but interactive instructor-led, student-involved classes. Would you please tell us why this adventure is important to you – to your students – to us?

Mr. Stabler:  I never knew I would love teaching like this! Writing music criticism is a form of teaching, but standing in front of people is a different form of it and I love the immediacy and hearing people’s reactions and questions about music I love. I probably should video the classes, but those are complications I haven’t addressed. I usually speak for 15 or 20 minutes, then we watch and talk about YouTube videos that illustrate points I want to share. My subjects have included Great Endings, Weather Wonders (how composers write about storms, rain, oceans, sunsets), Timeless Symphonies (Mahler 2), Mavericks (composers who disrupt and change music), why some melodies grab us and the Mysteries of Conducting — comparing leadership styles among conductors, from dictatorial to collaborative. The list of classes this year is on my website: davidstabler.net.  My most popular class so far was Music of Healing — the music we turn to when we seek solace.

Jeannine:  Last summer, you and your brother embarked on a journey few in this world will experience – a 3,600-mile 50-day bike ride across the United States of America. Astounding! Just one question (and for those who have many more, please direct us to your blog) – what music did you discover on your ride?

Mr. Stabler:  I didn’t discover any music on the ride, but I will tell you what music got me through those relentless headwinds across the plains of Wyoming and South Dakota. I would sing to myself anything with strong rhythms to keep the pedals turning: “Waltzing Matilda,” Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, the Toreador song, the Overture to “Marriage of Figaro” and, of course, “America, the Beautiful” because we saw it all: amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties, fruited plains and sea to shining sea.

Jeannine:  Thank you, David.  It was wonderful to learn of your world.
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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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David Stabler – music critic

Jeannine:  Your writing career spans several decades as the classical music critic for The Oregonian. As an organist, I always admired and was extremely thankful for your unwavering publicity for organists, organ concerts, and new organs in the Portland area. This is rare. Why were you drawn to our little niche of the world?

Mr. Stabler:  You’re too generous. Right after I arrived at The Oregonian in 1986, John Strege, then the organist/choirmaster at Trinity EpiscopalCathedral, called to say they were building a new organ. I agreed to take a look. Days later, he picked me up and took me to the church where we watched Manuel Rosales and his colleagues put this incredible instrument together. I returned every few weeks to document their progress and then watched in awe as Strege dedicated Op. 11 with a concert to a standing-room crowd. Organs, organ music and organ players fill their spaces with glorious, complex, astounding music, so I was irresistibly drawn to it.

Jeannine:  Would you share with us one – or two or three – favorite stories from your music critic days?
Mr. Stabler:  So many stories. I remember a Russian pianist whose cummerbund snapped apart during Ravel’s “Gaspard de la nuit” and landed on his lap. Instead of letting it sit there, he tried to fling it away, but it landed on the piano strings, buzzing and jumping. Still playing, he half stood and swiped at it, but it wouldn’t move, so he gave up and finished with John Cageian flourishes.

But seriously, I learned it’s easier to write about a really bad or a really good concert. The ones in the middle are death to write about. The best concerts stay with me — a Schubert piano trio at Chamber Music Northwest that made us swoon, and not because of the torrid summer night in the old Reed College Commons. It was the kind of performance where I felt connected to everyone in the room, and to the players, almost as if we were breathing together. And the night Leontyne Price sang art songs and spirituals to a quarter-filled house at Schnitzer Hall. “We love you!” someone shouted. “I love you, too!” she said.

I also loved writing a series called “The Sounds of Oregon,” where I recorded and wrote about iconic sounds of the state: a thunderstorm above the Snake River Canyon, a wildfire in Roseburg, water falling at Multnomah Falls, a Friday night jam session in Burns.

I would just like to add that I’m terribly sad that newspapers around the country — and the world — have decreased their arts coverage so quickly and decisively. Just a few years ago, The Oregonian had 15 full-time critics on staff, covering Portland, mostly, but also festivals and events throughout the Northwest. Now, the paper has a TV critic, a food critic and an arts editor who writes mostly about books and oversees freelance coverage. The Oregon Symphony hasn’t had a newspaper review in several years. I remember one summer, I covered the “Ring” Cycle in Seattle, then flew to Medford to cover the Oregon Music Festival in Coos Bay, and music events at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

What we lose when a mass media publication decreases arts coverage is the chance to extend our thinking and conversation about art beyond the experience itself. Most of us are naturally curious to know what others thought about a play, a dance, an exhibit.

On the plus side, we are lucky to have Oregon ArtsWatch, 

an online, non-profit arts journal that dispatches dozens of freelance writers to cover the arts, mostly in Portland.
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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.

Meet David Stabler

Guest Artist Interview 
with David Stabler

Jeannine:  Our readers are from all parts of the US and World and through this brief interview will get to know an amazing man, musician, and writer. Would you please give our readers a brief introduction to David Stabler.

Mr. Stabler:  I didn’t get serious about the piano until I didn’t have one. When I was 16, I spent a summer volunteering at a youth center in afishing village near Prince Rupert, way up the coast of British Columbia. No pianos, but the church we lived in had a pump organ, so in my spare time, I played hymns and the only two pieces I could remember: A Bach two-part invention and Solfeggietto. That summer, I decided I had to become a pianist, and can happily say I have expanded my repertoire.

I earned piano performance degrees from the University of Western Ontario, the Royal College of Music and the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. I spent two years living in London and Vienna, taking piano lessons and attending as many concerts as my meager budget allowed.

I he performed as a soloist, accompanist, chamber musician — you

name it — and starred in an award-winning film about Robert and Clara Schumann for Alaska public television. I had moved to Anchorage to teach at a private music school and I fully intended to be a pianist forever — the idea of working in journalism never occurred to me — until I filled in for a music critic at the Anchorage Daily News. Writing about music hooked me as strongly as the piano, which I play daily.

In 2000, my wife, Judi and I spent a year impressed and intimidated by smart kids at Stanford University, where I was a journalism fellow for a year. In 2007, I was a member of the press jury at the International Cliburn Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs — a wonderful experience captured in the documentary “They Came to Play.”   I have written for several national publications, including the New Grove Dictionary of Musicians, Opera News, Sunset and American Record Guide.

I retired from The Oregonian in 2015, having enjoyed 29 years learning from some of the best arts writers in the country. My story about a gifted, but troubled, young cellist in eastern Oregon was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.  To read more, click here.

Jeannine:  You certainly have had a multi-faceted music career with your extensive work as a pianist, writer, and now as a teacher. So where to begin…Let’s look first at your work as a pianist – why were you drawn to this instrument and how has it survived the “test of time” in your life? Why is it still important to you to play every day?

Mr. Stabler:  I don’t know why we are drawn to the instruments we love and devote our lives to, but the piano goes to the root of who I am. It gives me the most encompassing way to express what I can’t say in words. How lucky we are to be able to grapple with the great composers every day, to hear what they heard in their innermost imaginations and to trace on the keyboard the same movements. It’s a gift I never get over.
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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.

 

Twists and turns

Ahhhh…the twists and turns of a life!   For me, of course, music and the organ play a huge role in my life.  My music and playing the organ have literally taken me around the world and introduced me to an incredible group of people — people who cross your path in one moment of your life and then reconnect in later years.

In 1993, Martin Pasi built a stunning two-manual, 12-stop organ for my home.  It was a treasure and the culmination of a life-long dream to have a pipe organ in my home.  (The dream that was instilled by taking lessons as a high-schooler on the pipe organ in my teacher’s home.)  At the time of its completion, David Stabler, music critic for The Oregonian wrote a feature article about my marvelous new instrument.  What an honor it was for me to have Mr. Stabler, a proponent of the organ, share my story.

I’ve never forgotten how Mr. Stabler joined in the celebration of my new instrument.  Over the intervening years, I’ve followed David’s journey from music critic to teacher to cross-country bike adventurer.  What a joy it is to share David Stabler’s story with you in this month’s Guest Artist Interview.

Please peruse our list of upcoming Pro-Motion music events.  Please join us when we are in your part of the world.  We’d love to make a new connection, a new contact, a new friend.                                                             …Jeannine
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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.

Carson Cooman – composer and editor

Jeannine:  You are the Composer in Residence at The Memorial Church, Harvard University.  What does this position entail? 

Mr. Cooman:  I compose works for the church’s and university’s musical ensembles, advise on new music-related repertoire, act as the liaison for projects where outside living composers are involved, and work with my conductor and organist colleagues in the running of the university church’s extensive music program. I do also play some services as organist since we have many (including a daily service that dates back to the university’s founding).

Jeannine:  Since early 2015, you have been the organ editor for the Lorenz Publishing Company.  Can you give us an insight into your role as editor of the three Lorenz organ magazines/periodicals — (The OrganistThe Organ Portfolio, and The Sacred Organ Journal)?  How is music chosen?  What is the criteria for inclusion?

Mr. Cooman:  I have worked in music publishing since 2000, initially directing publications for Zimbel Press and in a freelance advisory capacity for a number of publishers. In 2015, I was very pleased to join the staff at the Lorenz Corporation to direct the Lorenz Publishing and Sacred Music Press organ catalogs, organize our Sacred Music Press choral imprint, and edit our long-running organ periodicals. It has been a pleasure to work for a company that is so supportive of the breadth of contemporary church music that I am interested in myself. We strive to have organ and choral publications that cover whole gamut in every respect: difficulty level, purposes, denomination/worship style, and musical style. I thus aim in the organ catalog for a great variety of material and creative expression across the works and composers whose we publish.

The primary use of much of the music published is church service playing (and singing), and so a large degree of practicality, accessibility, and general usefulness is important. Personally, I am always most interested in music where the composer’s individual voice is allowed to flourish, rather than being edited into a homogenous “commercial” style. Thus across the publications for which I am responsible (including the organ periodicals), I seek to showcase a variety of distinct musical voices who are writing compelling music each in their own way. It would be impossible to have each piece be everybody’s personal favorite, given the wide variety of tastes, abilities, and interests. So I strive for a variety with the belief that everybody will be able to find things within the catalog that are especially appealing to them.
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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.

 

Meet Carson Cooman

Guest Artist Interview with Carson Cooman

Jeannine:  Before we get started with more detailed questions, would you please introduce yourself to our readers.  What is your background?  What drew you to composition?  To the organ?

Mr. Cooman:  I was raised in Rochester, New York, and began piano lessons at a young age (3). Around age 10, I started to develop an interest in composing music. I had become interested in the organ simply as a listener from attending church and then by acting as page turner to our church’s organist.

Around age 13 or so, I began to study the organ formally. By the end of high school, it was clear to me that I wanted to be a professional musician, and that composition would be the major parts of my life. I went to college (Harvard University) and graduate school (Carnegie Mellon University) in music composition. All during this time, I was also active as an organist, specializing in contemporary music, which has remained my focus to this day. After graduate school, I moved back to Cambridge, Massachusetts to become Composer in Residence for The Memorial Church at Harvard University.

Jeannine:  You certainly have an amazing multi-faceted music career with your extensive work as a composer, a writer, an editor, and a concert organist.  Let’s look first at your work as an American composer – a composer with a catalog of hundreds of works in many forms – from solo instrumental pieces to operas, and from orchestral works to hymn tunes.  Your music has been described as “a vivid combination of inspired mellifluousness, emotional excitement, and creative expressiveness.”  How would you define your music?   What is it in the music that causes a reviewer to use these boldly descriptive words?

Mr. Cooman:  Describing music in words (whether being done by the composer themselves or somebody else) is not necessarily an easy or clear task. I have written a fairly large number of pieces in a variety of genres, and so there is certainly variety of both purpose and content across the music I have written. The facets of expression certainly with the piece. The kind of piece one might write for an amateur church choir is not the same sort of piece one would write for a university new music ensemble.

  My music is certainly connected to the historical tradition, though it seeks also to speak with a contemporary voice of today, and I would say also with an “American” one as well. What I strive for in my own music are also the things I look for in the work of others, regardless of style. I am most attracted to music that is deeply communicative and totally direct in its presentation, with no unnecessary artifice. I dislike so much organ music that is just tied up in knots of organ obfuscation or pieces that seem little more than transcribed improvisation. I want music where every note matters. The organ as instrument must be in service to the music.

The most crucially important thing for me is to bear in mind how the music sounds in time: the actual experience of listening to the work. This sounds simplistic and obvious, but it’s amazing how often this is forgotten. Since composing is a slower process than listening, it’s very easy for a composer to get caught up in systems and ideas that are compelling only in the abstract. Unlike visual art, music is a “time” art form. Everybody is forced to experience it at the same rate. If somebody doesn’t like your painting in a gallery, they can just walk away after a few seconds (or conversely, stare at it for hours). But when a listener is hearing a musical performance, they have no control over what happens. I consider that a hugely significant mandate that a composer is given: the responsibility for the use of other people’s time. And thus, every moment must matter and have purpose.

I have written in all active classical musical genres (except ballet), although since this is an organ-centric newsletter, it probably makes the most sense to focus on those works. I do have many compositions for the organ of almost every sort and difficulty: both for use in service and in recitals. I always strive in my organ music to make it no harder than it needs to be to get the effect across, and the ongoing positive reaction from performers seems to confirm to me that this is valued.

The organist Erik Simmons is gradually recording my complete organ works in a CD series for Divine Art Records (divineartrecords.com). As of Spring 2018, seven volumes have been released, with more in preparation.

On my website (carsoncooman.com) one can view a list of all organ works as well as information about where they are published.
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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.

Connections

Connections.  Contacts.  Acquaintances.  Colleagues.  All lead to my Guest Artist Interviews for our Pro-Motion Music newsletter.  This month was no exception.  A colleague in Lithuania, a composer in Sweden, an organist in the United States all led me to interview Carson Cooman.  I knew his life story and his work needed to be shared with our readers.  After reading Mr. Cooman’s interview I am sure you will agree.  This musician’s work simply leaves one exhilarated and almost breathless.  How does one accomplish so much with so much passion for his art?

It is the inspiring work of musicians such as that of Carson Cooman that encourages David and me to continue our quest to share our audience-engaging organ and multi-media concert experiences.  Please peruse our list of upcoming Pro-Motion music events and join us when we are in your part of the world.  We’d love to make a new connection, a new contact, a new friend.
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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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