Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘organ music’

Mark Lawson as clinician

Jeannine:  Besides being a leader in the music publishing world, you are also active as a clinician, writer and conductor.  What are the topics important to you today in the area of church music?  Choral music?  Organ music?

Mr. Lawson: Over the past few years I have been asked to speak most frequently about matters related to “music and management” and matters related trends and new models in music publishing.

I also have a very strong interest in worship practices in the various denominations. I think there are many interesting things happening that should be crossing over denominational lines and it is exciting to help this happen by being a resource.

Jeannine:  Where will your work take you in 2016?   Clinics, festivals?

Mr. Lawson:  It will certainly be a busy year. We are attending 3 ACDA conventions, Chorus America in Cincinnati, the AGO in Houston, the National Pastoral Musicians convention in Houston, the National Association of Teachers of Singing in Chicago, one of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians conferences in Fort Wayne, Texas Choral Directors convention, and the St. Olaf Worship conference.

Jeannine:  In summary – websites, links?

Mr. Lawson:  If you want to stay in touch with what we are doing, we have two publishing websites:

Both of these sites offer monthly e-newsletters in various genres as well as lots of information about our publishing activities.

Thank you very much for this chance to connect with your readers.

This interview originally appeared in the April issue of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.  To read the entire interview visit www.promotionmusic.org.  Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist, is the co-owner of Pro-Motion Music LLC with her husband, David Jordan, media-artist.  Together they are the creators and performers of the organ and multi-media concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, Bach and Sons, and From Seat to Shining Sea.


An Interview with Mark Lawson

Jeannine:  Please introduce yourself to our readers.  Who is Mark Lawson and how did you come to the music publishing business?

Mr. Lawson:  My interest in publishing began when I was in graduate school and was asked to write curriculum for children. I contributed to children’s curriculum projects for about 6 years while serving as a full-time director of music for two congregations in the St. Louis area. During that time I began a friendship with Rodney Schrank, who began MorningStar Music Publishers in 1987. From 1987 to 1997, I had the opportunity to watch the beginning of MorningStar and became familiar with the music that was being published. In 1997 I was able to purchase the company and work beside Rodney for three years before he retired.

As I began traveling for MorningStar, I became friends with Bob and Cynthia Schuneman, owners of ECS publishing. In 2011 they approached me about possibly distributing for ECS and buying the company. Both Bob and Cynthia wanted to see the company remain independent and able to continue the legacy that had been established. Cynthia unfortunately passed away in 2012, and then Bob died just this past December.

It was a true pleasure to work with, and learn from these great publishers who were so instrumental in building these two important companies.

Jeannine:  As President of the ECS Publishing Group, you oversee the publishing activities for E.C. Schirmer, Galaxy Music Corporation, and MorningStar Music Publishers.  Each company represents publications that are known for excellence!  Excellence in compositions, composers represented, and published format.

  • How is each publisher different/the same?
  • What genre of music is published by each?
  • Who is the audience of each?  Church musician, organist, pianist, choral director, school director?
  • Representative composers of each?
  • New 2016 releases?

Mr. Lawson: MorningStar is the youngest of the companies and is primarily known for Sacred music, primarily centered in the different liturgical traditions. Because of this focus, choral music often begins by the examination of the text and when a piece can be used within the context of the Church Year. We do publish pieces that are more appropriate for concert or school use, but the main focus has always been on the Church. Because of this, we publish music for choir, organ, piano, instruments, handbell, and books having to do with Church music and its practice.

The initial influx of the Paul Manz copyrights into the MorningStar catalog helped it acquire instant credibility. Composers such as Charles Callahan, Hal Hopson, and K. Lee Scott were represented in some of the first years of publication, quickly followed by Michael Burkhardt, David Cherwien, Robert Hobby, Carl Schalk, and a host of others. The Cathedral Series, edited by John Romeri helped establish a catalog of distinctly Catholic music, and the addition of the National Lutheran Choir series, greatly enhanced the offerings for more advanced choirs. MorningStar has always sought out and published new composers and over the past few years compositions have been added to the catalog by composers such as Philip Stopford, Michael Trotta, Karen Marrolli, and many others.

This interview originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.  To read the entire interview visit www.promotionmusic.org.  Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist, is the co-owner of Pro-Motion Music LLC with her husband, David Jordan, media-artist.  Together they are the creators and performers of the organ and multi-media concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, Bach and Sons, and From Seat to Shining Sea.







Fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

Affect, animate, arouse, cause, embolden, excite, galvanize, impress




Of extraordinary quality, as if arising from some external creative impulse.

“They had to thank the choir for the inspired singing”

Activated,animated,encouraged,energized,exhilarated, influenced

motivated, moved


“I just can’t listen to any more Wagner, you know…I’m starting to get the urge to conquer Poland.”  Woody Allen

Okay, I don’t know if that’s the inspiration we are looking for in our music, but it is inspiration. We often find ourselves in one of two positions, that of needing to inspire or that of needing to be inspired.

Sometimes our effort of inspiring leaves us depleted and feeling that inspiration has left us forever. Rejoice, it hasn’t. Those are the times we need to let our souls, minds, and heart rest and get an infilling of inspiration ourselves.

“Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration,

if inspiration is not discernible at the beginning.” Igor Stravinsky

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent” 
 Victor Hugo

We as musicians have been given such a tremendous gift.  So many people truly need what we have for them.  Sometimes we forget that. Even when we might not feel inspired there are people we need to inspire. We look outward for inspiration but we have it in our hands, feet, head, and most of all in our own hearts.

With the tremendous gift we have been given, we have an obligation to inspire others and remember to  allow ourselves to be inspired. Sometimes we are amazed at the sounds that emanate from that most magnificent of instruments on which we work, and are taken aback that we helped create that sound that is beyond words.

“Music . . . can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.”
Leonard Bernstein

Excerpted from an article by David Jordan, media artist, published in the March 2016 issue of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.  Mr. Jordan and his wife, concert organist Jeannine Jordan, are the creators and performers of three unique audience-engaging multi-media concert experiences, Bach and Sons, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Around the World in 80 Minutes.  Contact Jeannine at jeannine@promotionmusic.org to learn more of these unique events.




The Music of March

What Music Will You Play This Month?

 Favorite Repertoire? 

As I write this blog post, David and I are on a flight home from St. Louis where we had a grand time presenting  our From Sea to Shining Sea concert experience at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Des Peres, where I played some of my favorite organ repertoire on a marvelous Martin Ott pipe organ.  The organ had several new additions – some of which were heard for the first time in our concert — a third manual playing a stunning 12 stop Rueckpositiv with one of the most gorgeous Cornets I’ve heard, a full-length sanctuary rumbling 32’ Bourdon, a powerful 32’ pipe/digital Bombarde, an amazingly bright and joyous Zymblestern, and a thrilling Trumpet en Chamade.  I had a grand time deciding how to use every stop on the organ somewhere in the concert.   (Martin Ott is the builder of the two organs at Mt. Angel so you have some idea of how much I enjoyed the weekend!)

What is your favorite piece?  How can you work it into a service, a concert, or your weekly practice?


As we fly over the incredibly varied landscape between St. Louis and Portland – the plains, the Grand Canyon, the Sierras and up the coast, I’m reminded that March is filled with incredibly varied hymnody.  Hymnody that ranges from contemplative Lenten hymns to joyous Palm Sunday processional hymns, somber Holy Week hymns, to the glorious hymns of Easter culminating for most of us with Christ the Lord Is Risen Today.  For you church musicians, hymn practice should be at the top of your practice list this month.  Since the tunes of this month don’t often appear with other texts, the reality is we don’t play them often.

Be safe and start working on these hymns today!

New Repertoire? 

David and I are planning the World Premiere performance of our newest organ and multi-media concert experience so guess what I’ve been doing?  Looking for new repertoire to fit our theme, “Around the World in 80 Minutes.”  I’ve been talking to composers and organists from Nigeria to Australia and many many countries in between to collect organ pieces by national composers using indigenous folk tunes and hymnody.  WOW!  Has this been fun!  New music has been arriving weekly at the Jordan home.  So set a goal and discover some new repertoire to play.

March is the month for new repertoire.

It looks like a busy month ahead!  Here’s to the Music of March!

Dr. Jeannine Jordan is teacher, church musician, and concert organist.  She and her husband, David who is a media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multi-meida concert experiences, Bach and Sons, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Around the World in 80 Minutes.  Contact Dr. Jordan at jeannine@promotionmusic.org to learn more about these audience-engaging concerts.

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.

Meet World Renown Organist Stephen Tharp

Jeannine:  Our newsletter readership includes not only organists,but educators, historians, and music-lovers as well.  For those who do not know you, would you kindly introduce yourself.

Mr. Tharp:  My name is Stephen Tharp, a native of Chicago living in New York City for the past 20 years.  While I love my work as a church musician, my central focus is as a concert performer, traveling globally to play concerts, teach masterclasses and make recordings.  I am one of the few organists in the world who is lucky enough to make a life as a touring artist the primary focus.

J:  1400 organ concerts worldwide and counting!  What a legacy!  From Sydney to Reykajavik; from Los Angeles to Milano; from Leipzig to Hong Kong.  With degrees from Illinois College and Northwestern University, I assume you hail from the Midwest.  Who/what was your inspiration to become a concert organist?  How/where did your concert career begin? 

Mr. Tharp:  I was raised in the Chicago suburbs where my parents attended a Lutheran Church.  By age 6, the Schlicker pipe organ there had mesmerized me to the point where I begged them for music lessons.  (As a little boy fascinated by machines that were large and could produce big sounds, a pipe organ was a next logical step after years of hearing it every Sunday!)  The teacher they found for me, however, insisted that I first learn what I was doing and start with the piano.  I remember not being terribly happy about that at the time, but we  went with it for two years, adding the organ (with the same teacher) when I was 8 and just tall enough to reach the pedalboard.  That teacher’s name (yes, his real name) was James. T. Thunder.  We worked together for quite a while, until I switched to Wolfgang Rübsam at Northwestern University, who took me on as a private student during my high school years. After some truly wonderful experiences working with Rudolf Zuiderveld (organ) and Garrett Allman (piano) for my B.A. degree at Illinois College in downstate Jacksonville, I did my M.M. in organ performance with Rübsam at Northwestern.  Luckily, I was always able to perform here and there while a student, especially during summer breaks, and various friends/colleagues in Chicago were extremely kind to me during all my formative student years, offering me chances to perform at their churches.  That’s when I began to “cut my teeth,” as it were, in front of audiences.

J:  How did you build your worldwide concert career?

Mr. Tharp:  I spent 7 years under the management of Karen McFarlane Artists.  Ultimately, however, the approach I have always used in Europe – where personal relationships win over what is seen as the “impersonal, corporate approach” with agents – was better for me.  My first concerts in Europe were in England while still in my teens, and so Britain was, at one time, the place where I had performed the most often.  That changed in 1996 when I met German organist and improvisateur Wolfgang Seifen.  He was visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral while I was Organist there and, in reciprocation for a recital at the Cathedral, he offered to arrange my first concert tour of Germany, which took place in 1997.  Over the 46 overseas tours that I have made to date, it is still Germany that takes the prize now as the European country wherein I have performed the most.

In the USA, I have also been very fortunate.  Most of the concert halls I’d admired as a child or as a student have hosted me in performance; Disney Hall, Los Angeles; Symphony Center, Chicago; Woolsey Hall, Yale University; the Kimmel Center, Philadelphia; Spivey Hall, Atlanta are but a few.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, interviewer, is a concert organist who with her husband David Jordan presents the organ and multi-media concert experiences, Bach and Sons and From Sea to Shining Sea.

Adaptability = Organist

Adaptability: the ability to adjust oneself readily to different conditions.

In the above definition, replace the word “adaptability” with the word “organist.” Doesn’t this definition of adaptability succinctly describe the work of an organist? Amazing, isn’t it!

As organists (church organists, students, performers) the ability to adjust readily to different conditions is an absolute must! The only thing constant in playing the organ is that every organ is different. It keeps life interesting, and enjoyable, and yes, even challenging, doesn’t it?

Each of us becomes accustomed to our instrument whether it is in our home or church. We know its feel, we know where the bench should be positioned, we know its foibles (which lights are out or which pipes might be out of tune or which pedal note responds slowly or maybe not at all). We’re comfortable and we should be because at this instrument is where the work happens. It’s where we learn notes, rhythms, and musicality. It’s where organ music first comes alive for us.

Then we go to a different instrument for a lesson or to play for church or to perform. Ah…that’s where the adaptability comes in. The “new” organ is not going to feel like or sound like your instrument. It just isn’t. What’s an organist to do?

Keep an open mind – every organ has something absolutely beautiful about it. A sound, the action, the way it blooms in the room, the visual aesthetic. Take time to find that gem.

Position the bench in a manner similar to your practice instrument. Start there and adjust. Bench placement can make a huge difference in adapting quickly to a new instrument.

Use your best technique to quickly become comfortable – to adjust to the new feel. For pedal work, keeping your knees close and heels together makes adapting to a different pedalboard go smoothly. Running a few scales or playing a favorite hymn or manual piece quickly gives an idea of the feel of the keyboards.

Open your ears to the sound of each instrument. The sounds of the organ are like its fingerprints. Just like in humans, the fingerprints of an organ are unique only to that organ. In other words, the principal on your instrument will – I can guarantee you – sound differently than the principal on my studio organ, or the St. Bede organ or the Rodgers at the Presbyterian church in Pacific City. So, what’s an organist to do?

Approach each organ with a sound map in your mind for any particular piece – then prepare to adapt. Listen! And listen again. You may be surprised! Finding that gem of a stop on a new organ is really quite a thrill. I wish I had a recording of each of my favorite stops on the hundreds of organs I’ve played around the world. I’d then create the most glorious organ ever heard!

Relax and enjoy the moment! Exploring different organs and reveling in their beauty can be a satisfying and memorable experience. It’s what makes being an organist so unique, thrilling, and absolutely wonderful.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan is passionate about the organ.  She is a teacher, church musician, and performer.  She and her husband, David Jordan, are the creators and performers of the organ and multi-media concert experiences, Bach and Sons and From Sea to Shining Sea.

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