Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘art’

From Virgil Fox to U of M

(Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview with Howard Wagner, comptroller of Harpsichord Clearing House as published in the August 2018 edition of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter)

Jeannine:  What was it like to meet the flamboyant and venerable Virgil Fox?

Howard:  All of the participants stood outside on the church steps awaiting the arrival of Fox.  Virgil arrived in his white Cadillac Eldorado convertible – no it was not pink as the folklore states, and he wasn’t wearing a cape – and looking out the open driver’s window said “How’re doin?” one of his standard greetings. I can picture this scene as if it were yesterday.

The Fox Master Class was both eye and ear opening for me. Virgil mentioned during the class that during the upcoming summer, he was taking on three private students at his home in NJ.  I knew at that point that I wanted to study with him – probably the following year if possible.

Time went by, and several months before the next summer approached I told my father of my interest in studying the organ with Fox.  He appeared to make a mental note of the request.

A few weeks later, my dad said to me at dinner, I spoke with Virgil Fox today and he will take you on as a student this summer.  I was speechless, since Fox was like a god to me, and couldn’t understand how my dad was able to do this, so I asked, “how did you do that?”  He replied I called his management, (Richard Torrence), and got his phone number, and called him up. I thought that was amazing.

And the rest, as they say is history.  I studied for a year with Virgil, and it transformed my playing and understanding of music.  My senior year English teacher at Poly Prep was Miles Kastendieck, who was a music critic for one of the major New York City Newspapers concurrent with his teaching duties at Poly. Even Kastendieck, who from his reviews never liked very much, was quite complimentary when I had a chance to perform at Poly during dome of the music programs.

Jeannine:  After the tremendous life-changing experience as a mere high-schooler, I might add, what was to follow?

Howard:  It was on to the University of Michigan, organ and piano study and the requisite music classes. However, it was at U of M that I was exposed to the harpsichord.  The historical harpsichord revival was in its infancy – lots of kits – and few builders.  There was a fellow named Randy who established the “Bach Club” and it often featured harpsichord performers which included Penny Crawford, who used to perform on her Burton kit harpsichord, and Bruce Gustofson, a doctoral student then, who performed on his own William Dowd harpsichord.  So, it was early early on that I noted the vast difference between a kit and professionally built harpsichord.

Jeannine:  Is this what drew you into the early music world?

Howard:  Yes, at this point, I was hooked on authentic performance of early music.  Anthony Newman, although not from U of M was a rising star and I became a big fan particularly of his pedal harpsichord recordings. BTW Virgil Fox sat on one of Newman’s juries for one of his degrees describing him as a madman and a genius. Similar personalities attract!

So that was the beginning of involvement in the Early Music World.  I went on to get an MBA, and had a teaching fellowship, and with money I had earned and saved was able to purchase my first harpsichord from Eric Herz.





Who is Howard Wagner?

Jeannine:  Who is Howard Wagner?

Howard:  See the Emily Dickinson poem – “I’m nobody who are you?”

Jeannine:  So seriously, what is your music background?

Howard:  My music study started out in a very conventional manner studying piano with a local journeyman piano teacher who came to the house once a week.  Most “kids” at that time, I was six, did the same.  I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, so the cultural advantages of Manhattan were just a short distance away.

The turning point for me was when I had the privilege of attending private school starting in the fifth grade.  At Poly Prep Country Day School, there were Chapel Services every Monday and Wednesday. They were legal then.  There was a small Music Department headed by Dr. Carl Lambert.  Doc Lambert was an organist and pianist and choral conductor.  While at Columbia University for his PhD, Lambert studied organ with Carl Weinrich.

During those Monday and Wednesday chapel services,  there was an organ prelude upon entering Chapel, and a postlude upon leaving.  Dr. Lambert, over the course of a school year, would play the complete works of Bach and Franck as well as assorted other literature. Sixty plus works and never the same one twice during a given school year.  I was enthralled by this.

Jeannine:  Hearing organ music such as that would certainly have caught my attention as well!  What an astounding experience. Is that when you decided to become an organist?

Howard:  Yes.  My piano studies were switched from the local piano teacher to Doc Lambert.  By the time I reached eighth grade, a new three-manual pipe organ, replaced the aging Estey pipe organ at Poly.  This was controversial, as many of the parents expressed outrage that all of this money was going for an organ rather than a science lab. Nonetheless, it was a done deal, and none other than Carl Weinrich played the dedication recital.  At that point, I told Doc Lambert that I wanted to move upstairs.  His office was on the floor below the Chapel, so that was his expression when referring to studying the organ.

After three years of study with Doc Lambert, he gave me a brochure which advertised a Master Class offered in Brooklyn by Virgil Fox.  Doc told me that Fox was unconventional – certainly compared to Weinrich – but an important figure in the music world, and I should not miss the opportunity to attend the class.  And so, I did.


Article excerpted from the August 2018 issue of the Pro-Motion Music e-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 and multi-media concert experiences.

We are on the train and it is moving…



Feature Article – David Jordan (Excerpted from the June 2018 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter)

On the Train, Off the Train, On the Train, Off the Train…

We do know two things:

A.  We are on the train and

B.  It is moving.

The exciting news is, as humans we can stay on the train for a longer time than we thought and make it much further than we ever knew.

WHY would we want to stay on the train? We thought we knew where we wanted to go, how far we wanted to go. It should be okay to get off at a station and enjoy what’s going on around us. To stop and smell the roses. Nice idea.

What happens is that the train doesn’t stay at the station where we got off. It keeps going.

It’s important to know that if you want to get on the next train you can. Or you can take a different track in another direction. You just can’t hope for everything to stay like it is at the station where you disembarked.   (that will be another article)

Well, the train stops at stations to let people off who want to or need to get off and picks up more passengers that want to go on. Hmmm

When new people get on the train, their journey might be starting where you decided to get off the train.

To them, this is a new experience and they are looking forward to a ride to somewhere, somewhere into the future.

Do you take a side rail and sit it out?


Do you look at all the tracks ahead of you and choose one?


With whom are you going to ride the rails? Here’s an important idea: Get people in your car that are smarter than you are. When you surround yourself with people smarter than you, if you don’t talk too much, you can learn a lot and be propelled forward.

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.

On the Train, Off the Train, On the Train, Off the Train…

Sometimes you run across a story that seems to permeate many different situations and circumstances. Life happens…and life goes on. We get on the train, get off the train, get on the train, get off the train.  Why didn’t I see that coming? Whether you are interested in music, research, daily life, reading, playing, this story will add a new insight into what choices you have now and into your future. Truly, it ain’t over until it’s over.

David Jordan shared this article in our June 2018 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.

On the Train, Off the Train, On the Train, Off the Train…

David Promo Photo2The Railroad is in my genes. My grandfather was a railroad engineer for the Canadian Pacific railroad. I love the sounds of trains, feeling the ground shake, the gigantic mass of energy and power as they go by. I love watching the massive steel structure devour the tracks.

My first recollection of a train was when I was 4 years old. My grandmother and I were on the way from Toronto to Detroit. I remember being in the rail car and looking out the window. Without any hint or sensation, we were moving, as if we’d been moving all along. That was magical. To this day that vision and experience are with me.

The train started a long time ago. Okay, eons ago, and at some exact point in time, we boarded the train. We don’t remember or know exactly when we started.  The train started somewhere unbeknownst to us. And it is going somewhere, unbeknownst to us. In between are many and varied stations. Some people stop at each station others seem to take the bullet train.

We do know two things:

A.  We are on the train and

B.  It is moving.

(The second installment of this article is coming soon…watch your FB or LinkedIn to read more).

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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