Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘JS Bach’

Stephen Tharp Continued

J:  Congratulations on receiving this year’s Paul Creston Award – recognizing artistic excellence by a significant figure in church music and the performing arts.   For an organist seeking to emulate your success, what are three things would you encourage/insist that person do?   

Mr. Tharp:  A) Discover for yourself where your integrity lies and never waver from it.  We live in a time when spin can trump reality, when the new kid on the block is more interesting than the one who took 40 years to earn their stature.   The one who entertains an audience is remembered until there is the next source of entertainment.  But the ones who are remembered because they absolutely engaged and moved you end up in the history books.

B) Keep going and working even when you no longer want to – and that happens to everyone sometimes – and continue to be inventive so that you as the artist remain inspired.

C) Remember the real people who have always supported and continue to support what you want to do.  The music “business” is often horribly competitive, and the people who truly stand with you, with nothing to gain nor lose, are priceless.

J:  You are known as a champion of new organ music.  Do you have any current commissions?  Our PBS classical music station here in Oregon hosts a “new music” show each week.  Their tag phrase is “all music was once new music.”  Is there one piece that “stands out” and has/or is becoming a standard of the organ repertoire?

Mr. Tharp:  The organ works written for me by Anthony Newman, George Baker and Thierry Escaich standout.  There is also a particularly high-voltage Organ Sonata composed for me by Samuel Adler that I would hope eventually gets played more often by others.  One reason that hasn’t yet happened is because it is terrifyingly difficult!

J:  You are also active as a chamber musician nationwide.  What is different/challenging/fulfilling about working as a chamber musician as compared to presenting solo organ concerts? 

Mr. Tharp:  Well, autonomy is one kind of focus, collaboration is another.  You need to be so much more aware of what others are doing and plug into that, like an actor on stage with other actors.  There is a kind of concentration that’s really “in your own head” when you play solo, especially if you do so from memory, that isn’t as possible when you’re interchanging gestures, phrases, rhetoric, etc. with other performers.  But one learns a lot about adapting to this “outer awareness” from years of accompanying as well, which is why if you want to play chamber music as a mostly solo player, accompaniment is an invaluable teaching tool.  Other players play off of you, which is inspiring to hear, and yet when you play off of them too you discover things that inspire a moment that, alone, you might not have done in the same way, or may have missed entirely.  A very different animal, but one that can be equally inspiring.  Most fairly recent memory remains my performance of Copland’s Organ Symphony in Carnegie Hall where all of the most subtle elements came together in this remarkable fine and energetic way with some 100 orchestra players.

J:  Your work can be heard 14 solo organ recordings on JAV, Aeolus, Naxos, Organum and Ethereal labels and available from the Organ Historical Society.  Which recording would you would suggest a person new to your work hear first?

Mr. Tharp:  For more traditional repertoire, there is my Mendelssohn Six Organ Sonatas on Naxos (my first recording, 1996); Girard College in Philadelphia on Ethereal Recordings; and three different mixed repertoire CD’s from St. Luke’s Church in Evanston, IL; St. Sulpice, Paris; and St. Bavo, Haarlem, the Netherlands, all three with JAV Recordings.

In more unusual directions are my recordings from St. Mary the Virgin, NYC (20th Century music, first recordings and also transcriptions, on Ethereal); the complete organ works of Jeanne Demessieux (Aeolus Recordings); and a JAV disc from St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Columbus, OH featuring my own organ adaptation of J. S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations.  All but the Ethereal label recordings are now available via internet download.  The Ethereal productions only exist in CD format but are available from the Organ Historical Society’s catalog.

J:   In conclusion, what is your website and are there other ways to follow your work?

Mr. Tharp:  All of the above-mentioned labels have websites (except for Ethereal Recordings, which no longer exists), and there is www.stephentharp.com wherein you can find anything about my career you seek.  An always-current biography in several languages, concert dates, reviews, recording links, pictures, etc. are there.  Also, Pipedreams at American Public Media (radio and streaming) lets you search organists by name to find in which shows their performances and recordings have been played, and/or if there are featured shows about any given artist.  Host Michael Barone generously dedicated three shows exclusively to my career, from different years, and you can find them all in their search engine.

J:   Thank you for sharing your intriguing story.


Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist, performs with her husband, David Jordan, media artist, the organ and multi-media concert experiences, Bach and Sons and From Sea to Shining Sea.


The organ is incalculably many worlds! The organ is a lifetime of discovery!

Jeannine and David JordanJoin us as we travel the USA and Germany in the upcoming months to present the many worlds of the organ.

On Saturday, August 2nd, my students and I will travel to Rose City Park United Methodist Church to discover the church’s new pipe/digital organ at our annual Jordan Studio Play-In and Organ Crawl.Silbermann organ

In early September, my husband David and I venture to the organ world of Johann Sebastian Bach and present Bach and Sons, our organ and multi-media concert experience in the Bach Wedding Church in Dornheim, Germany on September 6th.  The following day, I perform a solo organ concert on an historic Silbermann organ from 1721, playing the grand music of Bach and his sons at the St. Georgenkirche in Glauchau, Germany.

October finds us in Nevada to celebrate with another church community and rejoice with them as I perform a dedication concert on their new organ.  The discoveries this congregation will make as their organists lead them in worship will be many and exciting.

s2ss logoOn November 9th  the American organ world comes alive as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of The Star Spangled Banner with a performance of From Sea to Shining Sea, our organ and multi-media concert event.  Not only will the audience at Rose City Park United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon hear Dudley Buck’s Concert Variations on The Star Spangled Banner, they will also discover the history of the organ coming to America!

We bring a performance of Bach and Son  to Klein, Texas on November 16th where the audience at Trinity Lutheran Church will discover the story of Bach.bss logo reflected for slide show

The organ is incalculably many worlds!  The organ is a lifetime of discovery!  Contact Jeannine Jordan at jeannine@promotionmusic.org to bring one of her organ and multi-media concert events to your community.  Help your community discover the world of the organ!

Who was Bach, really?

E 0313.qxd Johann Sebastian Bach: composer of 1,100 known works; organist, harpsichordist, violist, violinist;  born into a legacy of musicians; one of the most well-known and well-loved composers of his day and ours. But who was Bach, really?

Dr. Jeannine Jordan has an answer. On Sunday, March 16, Jordan and her husband, David, presented “Bach and Sons,” an organ and multi-media concert that tells the story of Johann Sebastian Bach and his sons. For her part, Jordan incorporates her organ playing and narration from the perspective of Bach’s wives and daughter, while David runs and coordinates the multi-media presentation. While Jordan plays, David projects images onto a large screen, taking the audience into Bach’s Germany.

He also projects the live footage from the four cameras that are focused on Jordan as she plays. “At first it was something that made me a bit nervous,but now I am thrilled to share that with the audience,” Jordan said. “Rarely do people ever see what their organist does to play the instrument.”

The simultaneous multimedia is an equally important part of the concert,the Jordans said. “62 percent of our society are primarily visual learners,” David said.  “This is a way that people really become part of the show….It’s a continual experience.”  “All of us are so visually tuned in these days that with the cameras and the computerized video and cinematic screen, we really address the desire of today’s audience to interact with the story that’s taking place in front of their eyes,” Jordan said.

The multimedia aspect is also intended to draw a younger audience to the concert. Jordan said it’s important to appeal to today’s youth because it is up to them to preserve the music. “Unless we bring our young people to these concerts and help them understand the music,we’re going to lose it,” she said.

The concert’s program includes Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor —“which is probably Bach’s most famous piece”— that Bach composed as a young man; hymn “From Heaven Above To Earth I Come,”one of Bach’s first compositions, written at 11 years old; “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,”another popular piece and one that Bach composed during his time in Weimar;  and late Bach piece “St.Anne Fugue,”which ends the concert. “It’s a summation of his Christian be- liefs in the Holy Trinity,” Jordan said. “It brings the whole program to a resounding conclusion.”

Jordan also plays the music of Bach’s sons during the concert, beginning with the music Bach composed during his sons’ births, moving to the music he wrote to teach them the keyboard and ending with their own compositions.  However,“Bach and Sons” isn’t just about the music, she said.  It’s also about the man and who he was outside of his music. “Even organists,after they see this show, say, ‘Wow, I forgot that Bach was a family man, that he was a church musi cian, that he was composing,’” Jordan said. “‘I forgot that during all of this, he was a man who had a life where he interacted with people and traveled, and had a family —a large family —and he was a very caring father for them. “It brings Bach alive in a way that just hearing an organ piece at a concert can never do.”

Jordan grew up playing Bach,and never outgrew her love for the music or the man, “Bach was probably the consummate musician of all time, in my mind,” she said. “He brought together many different outlets of the music of his day —which is now 350 years ago —and here we still play, listen to and concertize with Bach. “I think he was a man who was doing his job,who was raising his family, and yet he was a composer —whether he realized it or not —a composer of genius.”

Jordan and her husband presented “Bach and Sons,” in conjunction with the Oregon Music Teachers Association ,at 3 p.m. Sunday,March 16, at Church of the Good Samaritan, 333 N.W.35th St., Corvallis. For more information, see http://www.bachandsons.com.

A Patron of the Arts

In our Bach and Sons organ and media event, I narrate part of the show as Sara Levy, an inveterate patron of the arts.  Sara Levy is known to us today as a woman who knew the Bach family and collected as much of the music by Johann Sebastian Bach and his sons as possible, preserving it for future generations.  It was her Christmas gift of Johann Sebastian Bach’s score of the St. Matthew Passion to her great-nephew, Felix Mendelssohn, that in effect started the 19th century Bach revival. 

Sara Levy, patron of the arts:

  • recognized the magnitude of the music of the old master Johann Sebastian Bach;
  • had a passion for collecting the scores of Bach, sparing them from being used as wrapping paper or simply being lost;
  • gifted the score of one of the most monumental works by JS Bach to her famously talented great-nephew which led to the first performance of the work since Bach’s death
  • made sure that the incredible music of Johann Sebastian Bach lived on not only in her lifetime and ours but into the future.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist and creator of Bach and Sons

Bach and Sons Goes to Europe

We will present the German version of our organ and media event, Bach and Sons, in Ried, Germany on Friday, August 17th, 2012 at the Stadtpfarrkirche Sts. Peter and Paul. (To learn more of our event, visit www.bachandsons.org)

During the event, I narrate the story of the life of JS Bach and his family as related by the women important in the Bach family’s life–Maria Barbara, Catharina Dorothea, and Anna Magdalena Bach, and Sara Levy, a patron of the arts and collector of the music of JS Bach and his sons.  It was a wonderful challenge for me to learn the narration of the show in German for this world premier concert.

I will be playing the Schwanthaler organ at the Stadtpfarrkirche in Ried.  Music included in the event is the Toccata in d minor, the “St. Anne” Fugue, a trio sonata, and many chorale preludes by JS Bach; a sonata by CPE Bach; a chorale prelude by WF Bach; and other incredible pieces.


Have You Found Something Amazing Today?

“If you haven’t found something amazing in music you experience during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.”

How did you play the piece for the hundredth time and still feel amazed by its power?    For me, that piece is Johann Sebastian Bach’s Fugue in E-flat Major (The St. Anne).  I am and always will be in awe of this profound and amazing music expressing so completely the mysterious and awesome power of the Holy Trinity.


The implication here is that we must pay attention to the everything in each piece of music being practiced, performed, listened to, or taught.  We must actively engage in the work of making music as a participant, not as a spectator. We must bring all our senses into play in each encounter and every circumstance.

Jeannine Jordan, concert organist

Being Honest But Modest–Trait of a Musician With Integrity

You’re honest but modest. You let your actions speak louder than words.

I frequently talk about and write about the two “P” words—Practice and Performance. However, it is important that I do more than talk and write about this subject; I also practice, create and perform new programs hoping that my example will encourage my students to work toward their practice and performance goals.

Creating programs takes sometimes months of research. Programs with a theme are always audience pleasers.  Discovering that theme can take many twists and turns:  an article read, a new piece performed, a thought from a student, an idea found while walking the beach or walking through an art gallery all can lead to that “new” program.  Sometimes the “discovery” phase can take weeks or even months.  Once the theme is solidified though, the creation of the program can begin.

For a program such as my organ and media event, Bach and Sons, the idea came from a series of solo organ concerts I presented at the Abbey Bach Festival where I played on one night the secular organ music of Johann Sebastian, Carl Phillip Emmanuel, and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and on the second night the sacred organ music of those composers.  These programs planted the seed for Bach and Sons.

Eighteen months later, after extensive research, practice, and preparation and with the help of an eight member focus group the concert was premiered in Anchorage, Alaska to an enthusiastic audience.  Since then it has enjoyed many performances.

My students are well aware that I not only talk the talk about practice and performance, but spend hours a day in practice for those many performances throughout the year as a concert organist.

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