Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘performance’

The Seven P’s

Proper Prior Practice Prevents Piddly Poor Performance

Once again, David and I have been traveling and performing and once again, I’ve met creative colleagues — teachers, performers, church musicians all.  Of course, we talk about our work in all its guises and share ideas, thoughts, repertoire, and pithy comments.

From my conversations with Gregory Largent in Saginaw, Michigan comes the inspiration for this article — the 7 P words.   These seven little words just happen to be very apropos this month with the Jordan Organ Studio Spring Recital just a few weeks away.

Let’s take this pithy little phrase apart and see just what we performers are up against!

Proper = of the required type; suitable or appropriate.

Prior = existing or coming before in time, order, or importance.

Practice = to perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.

Prevents = keep (something) from happening or arising.

Piddly = pathetically trivial; trifling.

Poor = worse than is usual, expected, or desirable; of a low or inferior standard or quality.

Performance = a person’s rendering of a dramatic role, song, or piece of music.


Pretty, Pleasant, Pleasing, Profound, Polished, Passionate Performances!



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 concerts with multi-media.


Dr. Brian Mathias – appointed Tabernacle Organist

Jeannine:  I understand there are exciting times in your life!  In January2018 you were appointed a Tabernacle Organist by The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Please tell us how you came to this thrilling moment in your career.

Dr. Mathias:  Growing up as a member of the LDS church, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was a staple in our home. When I began to develop a serious interest in the organ, the Tabernacle Organists were the best organists that I had regular exposure to, and I devoured any recording I could find of the famous Aeolian-Skinner organ in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Of course, through the course of my education, I discovered many other traditions, organs, and organists that broadened my perspective, and I did everything I could to prepare for an academic career. However, playing for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir always remained in the back of my mind as my “dream” job.

Last May, an open position was posted. As you might imagine for a demanding position like this, the selection process lasted several months and included standard things like an application and submitting recordings. Finalists were then invited to spend two days in Salt Lake City with the Tabernacle Choir staff. The audition included quite a variety of tasks, including various types of keyboard skills (improvisation, transposition, sight reading, etc.), writing, arranging, and interviews. This culminated in accompanying the choir in rehearsal for around 45 minutes.

It was an intense, but thrilling experience, and after having the opportunity to actually play with the choir, I came away wanting the job more than ever!

My primary responsibilities as a member of the organ staff will include accompanying the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square on their weekly TV and radio broadcast of “Music and the Spoken Word” (the longest continuously-running broadcast in the world!) and performing on the daily noon recital series in the Tabernacle. We also provide music for church-wide meetings called General Conference that happen each April and October, as well as a number of concerts throughout the year.

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 concerts with multi-media.

David Stabler – teacher

Jeannine:  You’re now teaching a series of music appreciation classes called The Infinite Power of Music. It’s my understanding that they are live, in the classroom classes – not online, but interactive instructor-led, student-involved classes. Would you please tell us why this adventure is important to you – to your students – to us?

Mr. Stabler:  I never knew I would love teaching like this! Writing music criticism is a form of teaching, but standing in front of people is a different form of it and I love the immediacy and hearing people’s reactions and questions about music I love. I probably should video the classes, but those are complications I haven’t addressed. I usually speak for 15 or 20 minutes, then we watch and talk about YouTube videos that illustrate points I want to share. My subjects have included Great Endings, Weather Wonders (how composers write about storms, rain, oceans, sunsets), Timeless Symphonies (Mahler 2), Mavericks (composers who disrupt and change music), why some melodies grab us and the Mysteries of Conducting — comparing leadership styles among conductors, from dictatorial to collaborative. The list of classes this year is on my website: davidstabler.net.  My most popular class so far was Music of Healing — the music we turn to when we seek solace.

Jeannine:  Last summer, you and your brother embarked on a journey few in this world will experience – a 3,600-mile 50-day bike ride across the United States of America. Astounding! Just one question (and for those who have many more, please direct us to your blog) – what music did you discover on your ride?

Mr. Stabler:  I didn’t discover any music on the ride, but I will tell you what music got me through those relentless headwinds across the plains of Wyoming and South Dakota. I would sing to myself anything with strong rhythms to keep the pedals turning: “Waltzing Matilda,” Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, the Toreador song, the Overture to “Marriage of Figaro” and, of course, “America, the Beautiful” because we saw it all: amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties, fruited plains and sea to shining sea.

Jeannine:  Thank you, David.  It was wonderful to learn of your world.

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 concerts with multi-media.

Meet David Stabler

Guest Artist Interview 
with David Stabler

Jeannine:  Our readers are from all parts of the US and World and through this brief interview will get to know an amazing man, musician, and writer. Would you please give our readers a brief introduction to David Stabler.

Mr. Stabler:  I didn’t get serious about the piano until I didn’t have one. When I was 16, I spent a summer volunteering at a youth center in afishing village near Prince Rupert, way up the coast of British Columbia. No pianos, but the church we lived in had a pump organ, so in my spare time, I played hymns and the only two pieces I could remember: A Bach two-part invention and Solfeggietto. That summer, I decided I had to become a pianist, and can happily say I have expanded my repertoire.

I earned piano performance degrees from the University of Western Ontario, the Royal College of Music and the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. I spent two years living in London and Vienna, taking piano lessons and attending as many concerts as my meager budget allowed.

I he performed as a soloist, accompanist, chamber musician — you

name it — and starred in an award-winning film about Robert and Clara Schumann for Alaska public television. I had moved to Anchorage to teach at a private music school and I fully intended to be a pianist forever — the idea of working in journalism never occurred to me — until I filled in for a music critic at the Anchorage Daily News. Writing about music hooked me as strongly as the piano, which I play daily.

In 2000, my wife, Judi and I spent a year impressed and intimidated by smart kids at Stanford University, where I was a journalism fellow for a year. In 2007, I was a member of the press jury at the International Cliburn Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs — a wonderful experience captured in the documentary “They Came to Play.”   I have written for several national publications, including the New Grove Dictionary of Musicians, Opera News, Sunset and American Record Guide.

I retired from The Oregonian in 2015, having enjoyed 29 years learning from some of the best arts writers in the country. My story about a gifted, but troubled, young cellist in eastern Oregon was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.  To read more, click here.

Jeannine:  You certainly have had a multi-faceted music career with your extensive work as a pianist, writer, and now as a teacher. So where to begin…Let’s look first at your work as a pianist – why were you drawn to this instrument and how has it survived the “test of time” in your life? Why is it still important to you to play every day?

Mr. Stabler:  I don’t know why we are drawn to the instruments we love and devote our lives to, but the piano goes to the root of who I am. It gives me the most encompassing way to express what I can’t say in words. How lucky we are to be able to grapple with the great composers every day, to hear what they heard in their innermost imaginations and to trace on the keyboard the same movements. It’s a gift I never get over.

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 concerts with multi-media.


Twists and turns

Ahhhh…the twists and turns of a life!   For me, of course, music and the organ play a huge role in my life.  My music and playing the organ have literally taken me around the world and introduced me to an incredible group of people — people who cross your path in one moment of your life and then reconnect in later years.

In 1993, Martin Pasi built a stunning two-manual, 12-stop organ for my home.  It was a treasure and the culmination of a life-long dream to have a pipe organ in my home.  (The dream that was instilled by taking lessons as a high-schooler on the pipe organ in my teacher’s home.)  At the time of its completion, David Stabler, music critic for The Oregonian wrote a feature article about my marvelous new instrument.  What an honor it was for me to have Mr. Stabler, a proponent of the organ, share my story.

I’ve never forgotten how Mr. Stabler joined in the celebration of my new instrument.  Over the intervening years, I’ve followed David’s journey from music critic to teacher to cross-country bike adventurer.  What a joy it is to share David Stabler’s story with you in this month’s Guest Artist Interview.

Please peruse our list of upcoming Pro-Motion music events.  Please join us when we are in your part of the world.  We’d love to make a new connection, a new contact, a new friend.                                                             …Jeannine

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 concerts with multi-media.

Meet Carson Cooman

Guest Artist Interview with Carson Cooman

Jeannine:  Before we get started with more detailed questions, would you please introduce yourself to our readers.  What is your background?  What drew you to composition?  To the organ?

Mr. Cooman:  I was raised in Rochester, New York, and began piano lessons at a young age (3). Around age 10, I started to develop an interest in composing music. I had become interested in the organ simply as a listener from attending church and then by acting as page turner to our church’s organist.

Around age 13 or so, I began to study the organ formally. By the end of high school, it was clear to me that I wanted to be a professional musician, and that composition would be the major parts of my life. I went to college (Harvard University) and graduate school (Carnegie Mellon University) in music composition. All during this time, I was also active as an organist, specializing in contemporary music, which has remained my focus to this day. After graduate school, I moved back to Cambridge, Massachusetts to become Composer in Residence for The Memorial Church at Harvard University.

Jeannine:  You certainly have an amazing multi-faceted music career with your extensive work as a composer, a writer, an editor, and a concert organist.  Let’s look first at your work as an American composer – a composer with a catalog of hundreds of works in many forms – from solo instrumental pieces to operas, and from orchestral works to hymn tunes.  Your music has been described as “a vivid combination of inspired mellifluousness, emotional excitement, and creative expressiveness.”  How would you define your music?   What is it in the music that causes a reviewer to use these boldly descriptive words?

Mr. Cooman:  Describing music in words (whether being done by the composer themselves or somebody else) is not necessarily an easy or clear task. I have written a fairly large number of pieces in a variety of genres, and so there is certainly variety of both purpose and content across the music I have written. The facets of expression certainly with the piece. The kind of piece one might write for an amateur church choir is not the same sort of piece one would write for a university new music ensemble.

  My music is certainly connected to the historical tradition, though it seeks also to speak with a contemporary voice of today, and I would say also with an “American” one as well. What I strive for in my own music are also the things I look for in the work of others, regardless of style. I am most attracted to music that is deeply communicative and totally direct in its presentation, with no unnecessary artifice. I dislike so much organ music that is just tied up in knots of organ obfuscation or pieces that seem little more than transcribed improvisation. I want music where every note matters. The organ as instrument must be in service to the music.

The most crucially important thing for me is to bear in mind how the music sounds in time: the actual experience of listening to the work. This sounds simplistic and obvious, but it’s amazing how often this is forgotten. Since composing is a slower process than listening, it’s very easy for a composer to get caught up in systems and ideas that are compelling only in the abstract. Unlike visual art, music is a “time” art form. Everybody is forced to experience it at the same rate. If somebody doesn’t like your painting in a gallery, they can just walk away after a few seconds (or conversely, stare at it for hours). But when a listener is hearing a musical performance, they have no control over what happens. I consider that a hugely significant mandate that a composer is given: the responsibility for the use of other people’s time. And thus, every moment must matter and have purpose.

I have written in all active classical musical genres (except ballet), although since this is an organ-centric newsletter, it probably makes the most sense to focus on those works. I do have many compositions for the organ of almost every sort and difficulty: both for use in service and in recitals. I always strive in my organ music to make it no harder than it needs to be to get the effect across, and the ongoing positive reaction from performers seems to confirm to me that this is valued.

The organist Erik Simmons is gradually recording my complete organ works in a CD series for Divine Art Records (divineartrecords.com). As of Spring 2018, seven volumes have been released, with more in preparation.

On my website (carsoncooman.com) one can view a list of all organ works as well as information about where they are published.

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 concerts with multi-media.

Interview with Dr. Gail Archer, concert organist

Jeannine:  As a concert organist and recording artist, I’m always impressed with your themed recital series programs.  Please tell us the reasons, the thoughts behind the ideas for these concerts.

 Dr. Archer:  I started as a concert organist about 15 years ago.  I started very modestly by playing noon recitals in my own church and going up to Boston and down to DC playing little noon concerts with no real view that I was going to do this in any serious way.

 Then I played in the summer series at Riverside Church in NYC in summer 2002 where I played a Messiaen cycle, Les Corps Glorieux.  That performance got reviewed in the New York Times and nobody was more shocked, surprised and delighted than me.  So I said, “Oh my goodness maybe I ought to do this seriously”.

As a result, I went to the Boston Conservatory and worked with James David Christie and then to Paris to work with Jon Gillock on Messiaen. Over a five-year period I learned the complete works of Messiaen and played them for the 100th anniversary of Messiaen’s death in 2008 here in NYC.  That was the real turning point for me.  I was the first American woman to play Messiaen’s complete organ works and it got a lot of wonderful press.   At the end of 2008, Time Out New York, the culture magazine, recognized it as the Best of the Year in Classical Music and Opera.

 My concert career has continued to grow since then.  I have a publicist and a recording company, but I do all my own bookings and am now playing fifty concerts a year at home and abroad.

 Jeannine:  You have several CDs to your credit.  What are some of your most recent recording projects?

 Dr. Archer:  I am always making recordings.  A recent CD is one of the music of women composers, The Muse’s Voice, which got excellent press.  My newest recording is the result of a Russian project, A Russian Journey.  I’ve been to Russia three times where I investigated organ literature by Russian composers.  The premise of my research was that there has to be organ music by Russian composers even though the organ is not found in churches (the Russian Orthodox tradition is a sung tradition) but organs are found in small recital halls associated with the Philharmonic in every city.  So, I discovered music by the Russian Five, lesser known composers plus music by living Russian composers.  This disc has gotten beautiful reviews including one in the January 2018 issue of Gramophone.

 I am going to now do more music of Eastern European composers because so many of colleagues play the French Romantic literature or, of course, Bach, but we as artists need to find corners of repertoire where light needs to be shed so that we hear music by other people.  As a result I will be doing another CD in the Ukraine during the summer of 2018 of Ukrainian contemporary composers.

 Because of my interest in Eastern Europe, I was elected a member of the Harriman Institute here at Columbia where I now have access to grant monies and support for this work.  The Harriman Institute promotes scholarship and the arts to bridge the gap between the East and the West.

Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview of the February 2018 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter.  Dr. Jeannine and David Jordan are the creative artists of Pro-Motion Music LLC.  Jeannine, a concert organist, with David, a media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multimedia concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Bach and Sons.

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