Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for the ‘Organ concerts’ Category

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.

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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.

Soli deo Gloria

Soli Deo Gloria – To God alone the glory

Where have you seen this Latin phrase, Soli Deo Gloria?  We worship weekly at St. Bede Episcopal Church in Forest Grove, Oregon with these words in front of us.  Have they blended into the fabric of our worship space?  Where are they?  This Latin phrase is emblazoned in gold near the top of the organ case.  Why is this phrase on the organ case?

It all goes back over 333 years ago to Johann Sebastian Bach, arguably the greatest organist and composer in the history of Western music.  You see, this man of faith believed that music was a “refreshment of spirit”, and a powerful tool for the proclamation of the gospel.

Johann Sebastian routinely marked the tops of his scores with the initials “J.J.” and ended his compositions with the initials, “SDG”.  Let’s take a minute to look at these two sets of initials.

The initials, JJ were for, “Jesu, Juva” or “Jesus, Help”.   This man, with amazing talent and ability, was praying for help from the very beginnings of his creative impulses. His work was underscored by his deep need and faith.  The humility of a great artist towards his Creator God, knowing that he was watched over, heard, and loved.  God was intimately involved in his work (and more importantly ~ in him).   What a powerful testament for everything we do – Jesu, Juva!
Lord, help me make this my prayer.

And what about the letters, SDG?  Ultimately, Bach believed that music brought glory to God.  At the end of most of his scores, Bach bearing witness to his faith and humility, left the initials SDG, the abbreviation for Soli Deo Gloria, or “To God alone be glory”.  What a powerful testament we have so prominently displayed before us in our sanctuary.
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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.

Interview with Musforum founder Gail Archer

Jeannine:  Let’s look next at your work with two projects that stand out to me as something unique and of great significance in the organ world – the young organ artist recitals series at Central Synagogue, NYC and Musforum.

 Why is it important to promote a young organ artist recital series?

 Dr. Archer:  I direct an artist and student organ series at Central Synagogue in NYC.  Artists play on the second Tuesdays of every month and I bring young people from organ schools across the country to play on the fourth Tuesday of every month October-May.  Students have the opportunity to play in a large venue on a large instrument in a concert situation.

 The series was started by the Gabe Wiener family after gifting a four-manual Casavant to the Synagogue in 2002 in Gabe’s memory.  I was approached by the Wiener family to start this series which I was delighted to do.

 Jeannine:  What is Musforum and why is it significant?

 Dr. Archer:  Musforum was started after I had some disappointments in institutions.  In my travels, I discovered other women have had some of these same disappointments where they are passed over in the application process, where they are treated unkindly in the workplace, or where they’re summarily dismissed.  Those disappointing things happened often because the women had succeeded – they played beautifully, their choir sang beautifully, or they got a review in the local newspaper which drew attention to their beautiful work and that’s the reason, too often, that the persons in charge were unkind to them.  This is not how things should be.  When people do something beautiful and positive they should be recognized, and promoted and supported and encouraged.  I was hearing stories such as these and experiencing my own disappointments and decided to do something positive about it.

 I researched all the women organists in North America and published my findings in the Journal of the International Alliance of Women in Music(www.iawm.org).  What the numbers revealed is that there are only two women who are serving as cathedral organists and music directors in a major city in the US, two women serving as organ teachers at research universities in a major city in the US, zero women teaching organ in a conservatory in North America, and only 82 women teaching organ at liberal arts colleges or universities in small towns.

 Musforum is a way to bring positive attention to women doing beautiful work no matter where they are doing it.  Musforum is a place for women organists to easily communicate and where we can celebrate each other’s positive contribution to the field.  And, that is why I started Musforum!
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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.

Interview with Dr. Gail Archer, concert organist

Jeannine:  As a concert organist and recording artist, I’m always impressed with your themed recital series programs.  Please tell us the reasons, the thoughts behind the ideas for these concerts.

 Dr. Archer:  I started as a concert organist about 15 years ago.  I started very modestly by playing noon recitals in my own church and going up to Boston and down to DC playing little noon concerts with no real view that I was going to do this in any serious way.

 Then I played in the summer series at Riverside Church in NYC in summer 2002 where I played a Messiaen cycle, Les Corps Glorieux.  That performance got reviewed in the New York Times and nobody was more shocked, surprised and delighted than me.  So I said, “Oh my goodness maybe I ought to do this seriously”.

As a result, I went to the Boston Conservatory and worked with James David Christie and then to Paris to work with Jon Gillock on Messiaen. Over a five-year period I learned the complete works of Messiaen and played them for the 100th anniversary of Messiaen’s death in 2008 here in NYC.  That was the real turning point for me.  I was the first American woman to play Messiaen’s complete organ works and it got a lot of wonderful press.   At the end of 2008, Time Out New York, the culture magazine, recognized it as the Best of the Year in Classical Music and Opera.

 My concert career has continued to grow since then.  I have a publicist and a recording company, but I do all my own bookings and am now playing fifty concerts a year at home and abroad.

 Jeannine:  You have several CDs to your credit.  What are some of your most recent recording projects?

 Dr. Archer:  I am always making recordings.  A recent CD is one of the music of women composers, The Muse’s Voice, which got excellent press.  My newest recording is the result of a Russian project, A Russian Journey.  I’ve been to Russia three times where I investigated organ literature by Russian composers.  The premise of my research was that there has to be organ music by Russian composers even though the organ is not found in churches (the Russian Orthodox tradition is a sung tradition) but organs are found in small recital halls associated with the Philharmonic in every city.  So, I discovered music by the Russian Five, lesser known composers plus music by living Russian composers.  This disc has gotten beautiful reviews including one in the January 2018 issue of Gramophone.

 I am going to now do more music of Eastern European composers because so many of colleagues play the French Romantic literature or, of course, Bach, but we as artists need to find corners of repertoire where light needs to be shed so that we hear music by other people.  As a result I will be doing another CD in the Ukraine during the summer of 2018 of Ukrainian contemporary composers.

 Because of my interest in Eastern Europe, I was elected a member of the Harriman Institute here at Columbia where I now have access to grant monies and support for this work.  The Harriman Institute promotes scholarship and the arts to bridge the gap between the East and the West.
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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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