Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Archive for the ‘pipe organ’ 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!


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.


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!

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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