Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for the ‘pipe organ’ Category

Robert Ampt Interview continued

Jeannine:  Your extensive performance career includes solo concerts as well as those with your wife, organist Amy Johansen.  Together you have developed two specialties – the playing of organ duets, and the presentation of children’s ‘Introduction to the Organ’ programs.

What are the challenges/joy of performing duet concerts?  What repertoire is included in these concerts?
Mr. Ampt:  Duet playing is surprisingly different to solo playing.  For a start many, particularly American, consoles are deliberately designed for the convenience of a single player on the middle of the bench.  Any departure from this position makes the pedalboard, in particular, quite uncomfortable to play.  For duet playing a flat/straight pedalboard is definitely the easiest. On the other hand, ample and convenient registration aids together with the presence of fanfare reeds make many American organs well suited to duet playing.  Compared to solo playing registration for duets is significantly more complicated, particularly when playing transcriptions. And of course both players must agree on the choices.  We find that preparation time on an unknown instrument is approximately doubled for duet programs. And there will be no point in being shy about occasional close physical contact.
We perform a mixture of original organ duets (eg Merkel, Beethoven, Hakim, Mozart, Bedard, Ampt), and transcriptions (eg William Tell Overture, Saint Saens III, 1812 Overture, Mid-Summer Night’s Dream overture).
Playing in time together raises an interesting issue.  Playing metronomically accurately is the easiest was to stay together, but it also produces the most heartless and empty performances. So a definite challenge in duet playing is to be able to play together while still allowing rhythmic flexibility to colour and enliven the music, just as with the performance of chamber music.
Jeannine:  Please describe your “Introduction to the Organ” programs.

Mr. Ampt:  The aim of these presentations is to offer approximately 25 unbroken minutes of total fun and enjoyment in a situation where the organ is the centre-piece, followed by all children having a play.  Those who have brought (usually piano) music can play their whole piece while non-players are encouraged to simply “improvise”.
The actual presentations give the impression that Amy (on the organ) and I (writer, arranger and narrator) are just having a good time imparting lots of information.  But in reality the presentations are tightly organized and fully scripted, with most of the narrations delivered by memory to give the impression of spontaneity.  We have often performed Daniel Burton’s Rex, The King of Instruments (with changes appropriate to the local instrument and culture), and frequently use 5 – 10 minute segments using TV, film and football club themes presented in appropriately varied ways, for which I have write narratives.  There may also be an “I spy…” segment and a quiz Yell-a-thon.

 

Jeannine:  I recently learned your delightful yet challenging organ composition, Concert Etude on an Australian Folk-Tune.  Do you often use indigenous Australian melodies in your composition?

 

Mr. Ampt:  My first published music – Australian Christmas Suite for Organ – treats, somewhat as chorale preludes, five of the Australian Christmas Carols (Wheeler/James) which were published in the 1940s.  The texts of these delightful carols mention the heat, dust and fires of Christmas time and allude to Australian flora and fauna. Definitely no snow in the paddocks. In addition to the Concert Etude you mentioned (based on “Pub with no Beer”), there is also a set of concert variations for four feet on Waltzing Matilda.  Audiences seem to find this piece quite entertaining, with several American organ duet teams having it in their repertoires.
  Many seem to think that my most successful solo organ work is “Elijah on the Mountain”, inspired by the passage in Kings II where Elijah recognizes his god in the “still, small voice”. The first in a recently published set of Three Trumpet Pieces is also proving popular. Besides the organ music, there is also music for oboe/organ and piano/organ.
I have also arranged and written a considerable quantity of Christmas music for choir.  Some of this is a capella, but most is with organ accompaniment. All of this music was originally prepared for the annual Christmas at the Sydney Town Hall concert – a very traditional Christmas celebration based on the Nine Lessons and Carols which always sells out. For this event I have also arranged several of the well-known carols with organ/brass fanfares and accompaniments which can be used with large choir and congregation.  I would classify the style as traditional and harmonic. All of this music is published.
Although I have never had formal composition lessons, I do consider my learning in this area to have come from three sources. The first was the playing, in my early years, of countless high quality hymns harmonized by properly trained musicians.   A natural feeling for good and correct harmonisations is now normal for me.  The second was/is the music of the great composers; those whose music exhibits both form and passion.  These composers extend from Bach to Hakim. The third will be mentioned below in regard to my church-playing requirements.

 

Jeannine:  Where can one find your compositions, recordings, other publications?
Mr. Ampt:  The website “Birralee Publishing” has a sadly incomplete list of my works. Best to email direct to robertampt@tpg.com.au  Most of the CD recordings can be found on the Move Records site, including “Joy to the World”, which contains much of the Christmas music already referred to, and “Organ at the Opera” which includes the Waltzing Matilda duet.

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Excerpted from the June 2017 Pro-Motion Music newsletter.

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.

Mark Lawson and the ECS catalog

Jeannine:  As President of the ECS Publishing Group, you oversee the publishing activities for E.C. Schirmer, Galaxy Music Corporation, and MorningStar Music Publishers.  Each company represents publications that are known for excellence!  Excellence in compositions, composers represented, and published format.

  • How is each publisher different/the same?
  • What genre of music is published by each?
  • Who is the audience of each?  Church musician, organist, pianist, choral director, school director?
  • Representative composers of each?
  • New 2016 releases?

Mr. Lawson:  The ECS catalog is quite broad and is made up of two distinct traditions. The first is the E.C. Schirmer catalog which began in 1921 in Boston and published the Harvard Glee Club Series and the Concord Series. From the beginning, E.C. Schirmer published both sacred and secular music. Aaron Copeland was an early composer in the catalog, and the catalog took on great distinction with the work of Randall Thompson. As the company grew, it added names such as Daniel Pinkham and Conrad Susa with expansion in its offering of chamber, orchestral music and Opera. A host of current composers include Frank Ferko, David Conte, Gwyneth Walker, Henry Mollicone, Julian Wachner and many others.
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This interview originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.  To read the entire interview visit www.promotionmusic.org.  Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist, is the co-owner of Pro-Motion Music LLC with her husband, David Jordan, media-artist.  Together they are the creators and performers of the organ and multi-media concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, Bach and Sons, and From Seat to Shining Sea.

 

 

Adaptability = Organist

Adaptability: the ability to adjust oneself readily to different conditions.

In the above definition, replace the word “adaptability” with the word “organist.” Doesn’t this definition of adaptability succinctly describe the work of an organist? Amazing, isn’t it!

As organists (church organists, students, performers) the ability to adjust readily to different conditions is an absolute must! The only thing constant in playing the organ is that every organ is different. It keeps life interesting, and enjoyable, and yes, even challenging, doesn’t it?

Each of us becomes accustomed to our instrument whether it is in our home or church. We know its feel, we know where the bench should be positioned, we know its foibles (which lights are out or which pipes might be out of tune or which pedal note responds slowly or maybe not at all). We’re comfortable and we should be because at this instrument is where the work happens. It’s where we learn notes, rhythms, and musicality. It’s where organ music first comes alive for us.

Then we go to a different instrument for a lesson or to play for church or to perform. Ah…that’s where the adaptability comes in. The “new” organ is not going to feel like or sound like your instrument. It just isn’t. What’s an organist to do?

Keep an open mind – every organ has something absolutely beautiful about it. A sound, the action, the way it blooms in the room, the visual aesthetic. Take time to find that gem.

Position the bench in a manner similar to your practice instrument. Start there and adjust. Bench placement can make a huge difference in adapting quickly to a new instrument.

Use your best technique to quickly become comfortable – to adjust to the new feel. For pedal work, keeping your knees close and heels together makes adapting to a different pedalboard go smoothly. Running a few scales or playing a favorite hymn or manual piece quickly gives an idea of the feel of the keyboards.

Open your ears to the sound of each instrument. The sounds of the organ are like its fingerprints. Just like in humans, the fingerprints of an organ are unique only to that organ. In other words, the principal on your instrument will – I can guarantee you – sound differently than the principal on my studio organ, or the St. Bede organ or the Rodgers at the Presbyterian church in Pacific City. So, what’s an organist to do?

Approach each organ with a sound map in your mind for any particular piece – then prepare to adapt. Listen! And listen again. You may be surprised! Finding that gem of a stop on a new organ is really quite a thrill. I wish I had a recording of each of my favorite stops on the hundreds of organs I’ve played around the world. I’d then create the most glorious organ ever heard!

Relax and enjoy the moment! Exploring different organs and reveling in their beauty can be a satisfying and memorable experience. It’s what makes being an organist so unique, thrilling, and absolutely wonderful.
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Dr. Jeannine Jordan is passionate about the organ.  She is a teacher, church musician, and performer.  She and her husband, David Jordan, are the creators and performers of the organ and multi-media concert experiences, Bach and Sons and From Sea to Shining Sea.

The Mechanical Musical Marvel

The pipe organ is the grandest musical instrument in size and scope, and has existed in its current form since the 14th century.  Along with the clock, it was considered one of the most complex human-made mechanical creations before the Industrial Revolution.  Because of the complexities of this amazing instrument, it is difficult to describe just how a pipe organ works in a succinct manner.

Therefore, when I came across a video commissioned by Birmingham, England’s Town Hall Symphony Hall as part of their Science and Sound educational program, I was thrilled.  Here, finally, is a delightful succinct visual description of the workings of the “King of Instruments.”  Enjoy!

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, organist and David Jordan, media artist are the creators and performers of the organ and multi-media concert experiences, Bach and Sons and From Sea to Shining Sea.

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