Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘organist’

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?

Hymns? 

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!
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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.

The Purpose of Art is to Produce Thinking

To quote Erik Wahl, American graffiti artist, speed-painter, author, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur, “The purpose of art is not to produce a product. The purpose of art is to produce thinking. The secret is not the mechanics or technical skill that create art – but the process of introspection and different levels of contemplation that generate it. Once you learn to embrace this process, your creative potential is limitless.

Artwork should be an active verb (a lens by which to view the world) not a passive noun (a painting that sits dormant in a museum). Creativity lies NOT in the done but in the doing. Art is active and incomplete. Always shifting, always becoming. Art is a sneak peak into the future of potential, of what could be. Not a past result of what has been already done. Art is a process not a product.

Art is a human act. Art is Risky. Generous. Courageous. Provocative. You can be perfect, or you can make art. You can keep track of what you will get in return for your effort, or you can make art. You can enjoy the status quo, or you can make art.”

How profound!

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist and David Jordan, media artist, are the creators and performers of two organ and multi-media concert experiences, Bach and Sons and From Sea to Shining Sea.  They love making art!  Check the Upcoming Pro-Motion Music Performances page of this blog to experience one of their instantly audience-engaging events.

The Church, The Music, The Service, The Organ – Making Them One With Integrity

The definition of integrity includes three words: wholeness, unity, and honesty. As a musician who has participated in church music for most of her life, reflecting on these words has been illuminating.

As a child, I sang in church choirs and when I had developed sufficient piano skills, I played for Sunday school and other church gatherings. Participating in church music was one part of my wholeness as a child. It was part of the whole person I was becoming.

For my family, the church was a unifying force in our lives. Sunday services, Sunday school, Bible studies, boards and committees, and choir participation meant regular attendance and participation. The church was a place to express our faith through service and music. It was a place where we as a family unit joyfully, for the most part, participated together in weekly worship and church gatherings.

There was an honesty to our family church participation. It completed our lives and gave fullness to them. Church participation was not questioned, as it was the norm. I never knew anything different. Participating in church music was the unifying force and that which completed or made whole the church experience. The music of the church gave integrity to worship and God’s word.

As a teenager, I became involved in church music in a different way. I was no longer the child participating in junior choirs, playing the piano for Sunday school and learning the act of worship, I was now a worship leader. There was now responsibility-a responsibility that demanded integrity. I do not remember that I had a formal job description in my first years as a paid church musician, but I do know that my organ teacher, whose position I filled when she moved from the town, instilled in me the integrity for church work that stays with me to this day. To fulfill the role of a church organist, an organist must be prepared before she can “play” a church service.

Let us examine a typical job description for a church organist from the point of view of serving in church music with integrity. Most job descriptions for a church organist begin with the imperative:
“The church organist will play for all Sunday worship services throughout the year.”

What exactly is meant by the word “play”? The “playing” of a worship service is the visible result of years of invisible work of organ study requiring thousands if not tens of thousands hours of practice. The “playing” of a particular worship service is the one hour where weeks if not months of worship planning and preparation with the pastor, worship committee, choir director, soloists, and cantors is experienced by a group of people. A group of people that see only that hour with you on the organ bench “playing” the service.

“Playing” a service with integrity means being prepared. It means putting years of practice and study into use. It means finding music appropriate to the season, the scriptures, and the pastor’s message. It means learning that music including the hymns and service music. It means rehearsing with choirs, soloists and cantors. It means putting together the music so the service proceeds smoothly and seamlessly.

Creating wholeness and unity through careful honest preparation is the way of those who serve with integrity in the church as an organist.

Dr. Jeannine Jordan is the Organist and Director of Music at St. Bede Episcopal Church in Forest Grove, Oregon.  She is also a concert organist who performs the organ and multi-media concert experiences, Bach and Sons and From Sea to Shining Sea throughout the US and Europe.

What Do You Know About Your Hymnal?

With the New Year, why not take time to look really carefully at the amazing book we use every Sunday in worship – the hymnal. Did you know at the bottom of each hymn page is a wealth of information about each hymn? Why you can discover who wrote the text and when that writer lived and died; who composed the tune or melody of the hymn and when that composer lived and died; what the name of the tune is; what the poetic meter of the text is; and even how quickly the hymn should be played.

For example, let’s look at the most well-loved Epiphany hymn, known by the first line of its text, We Three Kings of Orient Are. Checking the bottom of the page we discover the words were written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. who lived between 1820 and 1891. As it happens Mr. Hopkins also composed the melody (music) to this favorite text. Listed to the right of the word Music is Three Kings of Orient. Every composer names his/her tune and this is the title Mr. Hopkins gave to his now-famous tune/melody. To the far right of the page are a rather strange set of numbers – in this case 88.446 with Refrain. These numbers refer to the poetic meter of the text, i.e. 8 syllables in the first phrase, 8 in the second, 4 in the third and etc. The notation directly above these numbers tell a musician about how quickly this hymn should be played.

With all this information, hymns can take on new personalities and “come alive.”  Take time to learn a bit about the hymns so carefully chosen for your worship. You’ll be amazed at what you will discover.
Dr. Jeannine Jordan, church and concert organist

 

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