Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘AGO’

From Sea to Shining Sea – An Instantly Engaging Concert Experience

The FBC in AmericaJoin us at the historic First Baptist Church in America in Providence, Rhode Island on Friday evening, September 18th, 2015 for an evening of story-telling — the story of the organ coming to America in the organ and multi-media concert experience, From Sea to Shining Sea.  You’ll become immediately immersed in the story through music, narration, stunning visuals and live camera action.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, organist and narrator, presents the stories and organ music of early America in an engaging manner.  Her research provides the audience with music and stories you won’t hear anywhere else.

David Jordan, media artist, ties everything together in this visual production by interspersing visuals taking you through the trials of the colonies becoming a nation with live camera shots of Dr. JordaS2SS logon’s playing and narration.

From Sea to Shining Sea is a story you won’t want to miss.  Friday, September 18, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at The First Baptist Church in America, Providence, RI.  The concert is sponsored by the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

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

A Review of the Boston AGO National Convention June 23-27, 2014

by David Rhody, JD, SPC
Director of the National Committee for Professional Development and Support of the American Guild of Organists.

The recently concluded Boston national AGO convention, unlike the forward-looking  Nashville convention  of 2012, was a wonderful celebration of the host city’s history and tradition, reveling in local organ builders Aeolian Skinner, Hook and Hastings and Charles Fisk, and such landmark venues as the Mother Church of Christian Science, Methuen Hall and Symphony Hall.  While there were of course baroque and 21st century compositions on  recital programs, by far the most heard works were from the 20th century, pieces  for which these great organs were originally designed.

James David Christie from Oberlin College opened the convention at Symphony Hall with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, a resident group which performs summer concerts in the Hall with cabaret-style seating around small tables.  Christie and the orchestra set the theme for the convention by performing five works with a Boston connection:  Guilmant’s First Symphony, premiered in this hall as an organ solo in 1904, Boston native Daniel Pinkham’s Organ Concerto, Walter Piston’s Prelude and Allegro for Organ and Strings which was commissioned by E. Power Biggs for his Harvard recital series, Samuel Barber’s Toccata Festiva,  commissioned by Boston native Mary Curtis Bok Zimbalist for the dedication of the Aeolian Skinner organ in Philadelphia’s Academy of Music, and an unpublished Theme and Variations by Jean Langlais, whose only Boston connection—though a powerful one—was the presence in the Hall of the composer’s widow Marie-Louise, who rose in enthusiastic applause after the performance. 

Trinity Church in Boston’s Copley Place, a short walk from the Marriott Hotel headquarters, is so historic that it claims the son of a student of Pachelbel as its first choirmaster.  Dallas organist Scott Dettra, playing with his usual confidence and authority, gave a wonderful performance of Healey Willan’s Prelude and Fugue in C Minor, a Psalm Prelude by Howells, Passacaglia in E Minor by Seth Bingham who studied with one-time Trinity choirmaster  Horatio Parker, the Jongen  Priere from Four Pieces, and the Durufle Prelude and Fugue on ALAIN.  All these pieces sounded as if composed for this 1926 Aeolian Skinner organ.

Two programs in Cambridge required a ride on the T (Boston’s subway), but the convention planners had thoughtfully provided free weekly passes for all attendees.  Christian Lane, the newly installed AGO Vice President, performed on both the Skinner and Fisk organs at Harvard’s Memorial Church, with a fine program ranging from Max Reger’s Introduction and Passacaglia to new commission Solstice Sonata for organ and trumpet by Carson Cooman.  He concluded with a majestic performance of the Bach Passacaglia and Fugue, reminding the audience of the source of much of the musical inspiration heard this week.  The second Cambridge concert was a choral delight by the Handel and Haydn Society conducted by John Finney, featuring three Bach works—one in Italian by C.P.E. Bach and a motet (Komm, Jesu, Komm) and Mass (Missa Brevis) by J.S.  Although the marble interior of St. Paul’s Church was a glorious benefit to the J. S. works, the Italian paean to the city of Hamburg Spiega, Ammonia fortunata, was so intricate that the words were somewhat lost in the atmosphere.  Nevertheless it was a beautiful experience.

Young organists have become a fixture of AGO conventions since Los Angeles in 04, and Boston celebrated the future of the organ world with nine performances by regional Quimby Competition winners plus another by the winners in Organ Improvisation and Organ Performance.  These young performers continue to dazzle with their skill and maturity, and the three Rising Stars I heard, Jennifer McPherson, Ryan Kennedy and Nicholas Capozzoli, played brilliantly.

There were so many other notable performances—a top-notch choral group Blue Heron, the Boston City Singers, organists Janette Fishell, Joan Lippincott and the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble, Chelsea Chen, Thierry Escaich, a grand concluding event at the First Church of Christ Scientist featuring Stephen Tharp, plus many fine worship services, workshops and scholarly papers, extensive exhibits where you could buy a music score or a pipe organ—it is almost too much to digest in one week.   In fact some have criticized the national conventions as too much of a good thing and lobbied for leaner schedules.  Surely we organists are capable of pacing ourselves, and what a shame it would have been to omit any of these fine programs in the interest of economy of time.  In fact Convention Coordinator Ray Cornils met with first-time attendees to advise picking and choosing among the offerings to avoid convention burnout.

In a commendable attempt to lighten the physical load of lugging around a fat program book, the Boston organizers broke the program into 5 mini-booklets, a nice idea but one that needs work; the organ specifications were all in booklet 1, for example, so at the concert venues you had to remember to bring booklet 1 in addition to the day’s program.  Surely a picky complaint, though, in view of the rich and satisfying experience which Boston provided for the international organ world.  Bravo for a fine convention, Boston!  See everyone in 2016 in Houston!

Finding Inspiration

Several months ago, I was invited to adjudicate an organ competition for the Salem Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.  In preparation for adjudicating this competition, I began studying the repertoire that was to be played by the competitors:  the Bach C Major Prelude and Fugue, BWV 547;  the Bach Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major, BWV 552:  the Final from Symphony 1 by Vierne;  Piece Heroique by Franck;  Toccata and Fugue by Emma Lou Diemer;  and Gloucester Estampie by Carson Cooman.  Formidable, challenging, and tremendously exciting repertoire to be sure and not for the “faint of heart.”

Today I had the pleasure of hearing two competitors play this grand music.  And play it they did!  Both competitors were well prepared and played with maturity and understanding of the music.  It was a great pleasure to hear such playing.

As adjudicators, we were not allowed to see the competitors before or during the competition.  Assuming this type of playing would have been presented by an organist nearing the cut-off age of 25, I was astounded when the runner-up and winner stepped forward to receive their prizes!

The runner-up was a young woman of 17 who wants to make a career as an organist.  She’s been playing the organ for four years.

And who was the winner?   He was a shy young man of 12-years of age who had only been studying organ for two years!

Simply amazing!  and truly an inspiration for me to continue my careful thoughtful practice and to recapture that sense of joy in playing the organ that I witnessed in these very young, very talented, very hard-working, very dedicated organists today!  What a thrill!!
Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist


What are the Traits of a Forward-thinking Musician?

Recently I had the opportunity to interview James Thomashower, Executive Director of the American Guild of Organists for our Pro-Motion Music newsletter.  Mr. Thomashower and I shared ideas and views on the difference between being a forward-looking and a forward-thinking musician (organist). 

Most musicians and organists in particular are primarily forward-looking people with prepared music required either Sunday after Sunday and season after season or concert after concert. With Mr. Thomashower’s role as a visionary for the AGO, I asked him to share some of his and the organization’s forward-thinking ideas that could help organists (and musicians)  grow beyond being only a forward-looking group?

Mr. Thomashower:  I think the best strategy organists can follow to ensure career stability and growth is for them to be

  • less rigid,
  • more flexible,
  • and constantly willing to learn.

I am not suggesting at all that they should ever lower their standards, but the world is changing every day, and organists need to look ahead at the directions in which their employers are headed musically and liturgically.

Organists must be

  • constantly attuned to what’s happening in their places of employment,
  • be prepared for change,
  • and learn to adapt to new kinds of services with different types of music than they are accustomed to playing.

The organists who will flourish are those who can most effectively adapt to the changing demands that they may face. That may mean

  • learning new music
  •  accepting a new role, perhaps as a back-up musician in a blended service
  • graciously accepting an opportunity to play a digital instrument if a job with a pipe organ is not readily available.

Organists know more about their instrument than anyone else.  Regardless of the particular circumstances they may face in a given church, they have a responsibility to be the best advocates for the organ and organ music in our society.  That role is thrust upon them by virtue of their extraordinary musical skills, competence, and professionalism. They should embrace it with pride and joy.

Interview by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist

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