Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘organ’

Keeping the Story Alive

Some of us are genealogists, studying our families and the tracing of our lineages and history.  My Mom and my cousin are genealogists.  Thanks to their painstaking research, I can trace my American lineage back to the Mayflower and many generations before that in England.

Some of us are historians, researching, studying, and writing about the past.  Barbara Owen is a historian.  Thanks to her meticulous research and for publishing her findings, I credit my interest in American organists, organ music, and organs to her.

Ms. Owen began her work on American organs in the early 1960s when “American topics were not very popular as material for academic papers.”  In 1976, on the urging of E. Power Biggs, Ms. Owen published four volumes of early American organ music.

A few years later, I was searching for a dissertation topic.  I was fascinated by the early American organ music in Ms. Owen’s collections.  It had a character unlike any other organ music I had ever played.  Armed with the desire to perform this music and learn more of these composers, I proposed the topic of “Early American Organists” to my dissertation committee.  Still, as with Ms. Owen’s thesis twenty years earlier, American topics were not very popular as material for academic papers, however, with the foresight and creativity of two of my advisors, my topic was approved, and shall we say, the story goes on!

The anecdotes and music I collected and published in that dissertation so many years ago, have become From Sea to Shining Sea, the organ and multimedia concert experience my husband, David, and I created and perform.  And to keep my family’s story alive, I narrate the stories of From Sea to Shining Sea as a Mayflower descendant.

To discover more about our audience-engaging organ and multi-media concert experience, visit www.fromseatoshiningsea.net

Thank you Mom, thank you Duane, thank you Barbara for “keeping the story alive” so I can share it with the world in my unique way.

What are you doing to keep “your” story alive?

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

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!

Looking for New Hymn Tune Arrangements for the Organ?

It is summertime!  The time to look for new music.  I invite you to check out the organ collections on DARCEY PRESS.

Testimonials for the DARCEY PRESS organ collections:

“I have been learning, using and enjoying “83 Musical Gifts Parts 1, 2, & 3” and “120 More Musical Gifts Parts 4, 5, 6, & 7” edited by Adrienne Tindall.  These books are a collection of hymn arrangements submitted to Adrienne Tindall from organists across the country.  The variety and quality of these hymn tune arrangements is truly a musical gift.

For me, selecting music for church service has become a matter of which music to present since I use the Musical Gifts as a resource when preparing my musical offering.  Also, many of the hymn arrangements are ‘recital’ or ‘special music’ caliber.

When I present variations of a hymn as ‘special music’ I describe the history of the hymn tune or text, urge the congregation to look up the hymn and read the text as I play or describe some of the soundscapes I am using.  When reading hymn text or listening for particular sounds or tempo as I play, engages the congregation with the music.  Also, I have had a narrator read a verse of the hymn text between hymn variations which is very effective.

Adrienne Tindall has put together a wonderful collection of hymn tunes that are sure to please any church organist.”

…………..Shelley Stoll, organ student of Dr. Jeannine Jordan   

“I have used Adrienne Tindall’s Musical Gifts books many times for worship services.  It is nice to have a collection arranged by hymn-tune name which include arrangements of each tune by many well-known composers.  Biographical information is included in the front of each book about each of the composers.

The books are plastic comb bound so they stay open, and are designed to reduce page turns, including fold-out pages. I have played several of the arrangements during services and find the books to be a valuable addition to my music library.”

.…………..Gayle Gaddis, organ student of Dr. Jeannine Jordan

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, church and concert organist

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


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