Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for the ‘Organ concerts’ Category

The Satirist – Daniel Gawthrop

Jeannine:  Another of your many talents are the Facebook witticisms you share on a regular basis that bring famous art works to life with witty repartee between characters.  What is this wonderfully creative process?  (Visit Daniel’s FB page to discover this wonderful world.)

Mr. Gawthrop:  I stare at the picture until my fevered imagination overheats and begins spouting nonsense. I capture as much as possible and edit until I lose interest!

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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.

 

 

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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.

An Interview with Dr. Damin Spritzer continued

J:  Your busy career spans a variety of different yet intertwined positions from university professor to church musician and concert organist to recording artist.  Let’s first focus on your faculty position at The American Organ Institute at the University of Oklahoma.  Please describe for us your role in what is described as “a revolutionary (organ) program without parallel”.

Dr. Spritzer:  What an incredible compliment to our program! That is really wonderful, thank you! I am one of three teaching faculty here out of nine staff in the organ department/AOI. It was very exciting for me to be the successful applicant for this position a few years ago, because as we understand it, this was the first new tenure-track position in our field to have been created in quite a few years. That directly reflects the significant growth of the program here over the last decade, under the leadership of Dr. John Schwandt. It was a tremendous honor to be considered and to then be the successful applicant for the position. It was also a dream come true to find a full-time professorship in a thriving program with so many colleagues.

 

I concentrate on studio teaching (along with the other two faculty) but I also teach a three-semester graduate class in Organ Literature and History, a one-semester undergraduate Organ Literature and History class, a Hymnody class, and will be jointly designed and implementing an Organ Pedagogy class in the coming year or so. It’s a unique program for a number of reasons, one in particular being that we are the only university, accredited or otherwise, that presently offers degrees in Organ Technology. So in addition to a full slate of classical performance training, improvisation, church and sacred music, theatre organ (that is also in the process of becoming acknowledged as a formal emphasis here), and academic study of the instrument, our students get to work hands-on throughout their program of study by participating actively with organ renovation, building, tuning, voicing, and repair.

 

I love being part of a large department like this, which is something I was also very fortunate to experience in all my church positions where we likewise always had multiple organists and musicians and directors. I have tremendous departmental support from my colleagues here for my teaching as well as my performing and recording, and I hope to do the same for them!  (To learn more of the American Organ Institute click here.) 

 

J:  Not only do you have a role in shaping future organists through your university teaching, you are also the Artist-in-Residence for the Cathedral Arts series at the Cathedral Church of St. Matthew in Dallas, Texas and as such have a role for generating new audiences.  What are your thoughts on not only generating but maintaining audience interest in live performance?

Dr. Spritzer:  My ties and association with St. Matthews Cathedral arevery precious to me. Cathedral Arts there incorporates a number of disciplines in the arts, which is always wonderful for reaching out to various parts of any given community. I give a lot of thought and talk to our students a great deal about the context, or perhaps, the intended audience, of any given “performance” situation. The diversity of the organ (especially when we include historic instruments) is stunning, and each hall, room, and instrument are unique. I love looking for programs that I hope suit each venue in particular. We can’t always put ourselves in the minds our supporters and listeners, but we can certainly listen to them when they communicate with us, and strive for ways to merge our own personal visions and aesthetics and dreams and ideals with what we are hearing that our congregations or audiences really respond to and recall with happiness or strong emotion.

The organ is so, so ancient, I am always in awe of the true extent of the historic body of repertoire from which we can draw for teaching, performing, and liturgical use. There is just so much! I work very hard personally to find a balance between canon rep that is beloved, and also a large percentage of [generally] Romantic or Modern music that has been overlooked by previous performers because of obscurity or loss. That seems to create a lot of memorable programs, based on the lovely letters and comments I have received over the years, and I’m very grateful that some of the programs have been so successful as well as the fact that my musical colleagues and listeners have taken the time to communicate so positively and eloquently with me about it.

I also try to simply perform as often as I possibly can, wherever I can, whenever I can, and I almost always try to speak with the audience before, during, or after the program, whenever that’s possible. It’s one of my favorite aspects of a live performance, and since we’re so often hidden, I think it helps make it more personal and relational. When people take the time to attend a performance, that says so much, and I want to honor that.

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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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