Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

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.

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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.

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.

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.

The Gift of Love

The Gift of Love

a setting of

1 Corinthians 13

Though I may speak with bravest fire,

and have the gift to all inspire,

and have not love, my words are vain,

as sounding brass, and hopeless gain.

Though I may give all I possess,

and striving so my love profess,

but not be given by love within,

the profit soon turns strangely thin.

Come, Spirit, come, our hearts control;

our spirits long to be made whole.

Let inward love guide every deed;

by this we worship, and are freed.

 

Text written by Hal Hopson in 1972.

Sung to the tune O WALY WALY, an English tune from the early 1700’s.

Meter 8.8.8.8.

Published in 25 hymnals

Arrangements: organ, choral, handbells, piano/organ, and other instruments

http://www.hymnary.com

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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.  Dr. Jordan is also a life-long church musician.

 

A Lenten Meditation

A Lenten Hymnal Meditation – Now Quit Your Care

Last year during Lent, I discovered a hymn that was new to me and one that had not been sung as a congregational hymn in all my years of church work.  I am sharing it here as a Lenten devotion.

The hymn is found on page 145 in The Hymnal 1982 and was written by Percy Dearmer, one of the compilers of The English Hymnal of 1906.

Now quit your care and anxious fear and worry;
for schemes are vain and fitting brings no gain.
Lent calls to prayer, to trust and dedication;
God brings new beauty nigh;
reply, reply, reply with love to love most high;
reply, reply, reply with love to love most high.

To bow the head in sack-cloth and in ashes,
or rend the soul, such grief is not Lent’s goal;
But to be led to where God’s glory flashes,
his beauty to come near.
Make clear, make clear, make clear where truth and light appear;
Make clear, make clear, make clear where truth and light appear.

For is not this the fast that I have chosen?|
(The prophet spoke) To shatter every yoke,
Of wickedness the grievous bands to loosen,
oppression put to flight,
To fight, to fight, to fight till every wrong’s set right. 
To fight, to fight, to fight till every wrong’s set right.

For righteousness and peace will show their faces|
to those who feed the hungry in their need,
and wrongs redress, who build the old waste places,
and in the darkness shine.
Divine, divine, divine it is when all combine! 
Divine, divine, divine it is when all combine! 

Then shall your light break forth as doth the morning;
your health shall spring, the friends you make shall bring
God’s glory bright, your way through life adorning;
and love shall be the prize. 
Arise, arise, arise! And make a paradise! 
Arise, arise, arise! And make a paradise! 
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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.  Dr. Jordan has been involved in church music ministry throughout her life.

 

You are invited

Jeannine and David Jordan present

Around the World in 80 Minutes
Organ and Multi-media Concert Experience

Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 3:00 p.m.

“Who’s on Third” Concert Series

Woodburn United Methodist Church

700 Cascade Drive

Woodburn, Oregon

Freewill offering

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