Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘harpsichord’

How is the Early Music world changing?

(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:  How is the early music world changing/growing?

Howard:  It is gratifying that many smaller colleges and junior colleges have been in search of early keyboard instruments.  Early music departments and performing groups have been “springing up” all over the USA, and the Far East, often where it is least expected.  The excitement of hearing the music from the sixteenth through early nineteenth century on authentic instruments has become a passionate pursuit for many in both the performance and administrative areas of music. HCH loves being a part of this growth and building these new relationships.

Go to www.harpsichord.com to learn more, or the Harpsichord Clearing House Facebook page.

Jeannine:  I know you have several other passions besides early music.  Please tell us more.

Howard:  Collecting Cars – particularly hot rods from the 50’s and 60’s era.  Jeannine knows well as she drove of them.  (A thrilling few miles, indeed!)  American and English period antique furniture, early interior design, and architecture 17th 18th and early 19th century.  Puns and silly jokes.

Jeannine:  Thank you, Howard, for allowing me and our readers a glimpse into your amazing and wonder-filled world.
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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 and multi-media concert experiences.

A left turn

(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:  Degree earned at the University of Michigan.  What was next?

Howard:  Ah…a left turn with advantages shall we say.  After receiving my MBA degree, I returned to the East Coast and went to work for General Foods Corporation, White Plains, NY.  This was during a major recession and inflationary times, and very few companies were hiring.  So, food was the place to go.  The people were all very nice, very bright, and the company was a Fortune 500 corporation.  But, I knew this was not for me long term.  After five years, I was recruited to take a position at Standard Brands Corp. in Manhattan.  This was a very different environment.  While the General Foods employees were well educated and could discuss cultural things, the Standard Brands employees, including the executives were mostly uneducated and had worked their way up through the ranks. They amused themselves by drinking and cursing. They were also very political, as they could not rely on their skills to get themselves ahead.  Again, really not for me.

The advantage of being in midtown Manhattan was that one was surrounded by all sorts of culture. I often would stay in the city after work to attend a concert or museum lecture.

Jeannine:  How did those advantages mold your future?

Howard:  On my lunch hour I sometimes walked over to the Rodgers Organ Studio at Carnegie Recital Hall and would converse with Rick Tripodi and Jim Ramsey.  I learned at that time, that Doug Marshall who was a student of Virgil Fox at the same time as I, was selling Rodgers Organs in New England.  The wheels began to turn.  I am an organist, Virgil Fox was now touring on a Rodgers organ, I have a business degree and music, I have real business experience, hmmmmm.  I paid Doug Marshall a visit, and after about a year, Doug and I became the Rodgers organ dealer in New England. Our regional representative was Dave Jordan.

After about eight years, my desire to be involved with real — rather than imitation instruments took over, and Doug and I had a mutually agreeable parting of the ways, and I left the Rodgers Dealership.  Doug was a true gentleman about it – always was and always will be a fine individual.
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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 and multi-media concert experiences.

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.

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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.

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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.

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