(Excerpted from the Guest Artist Interview with Howard Wagner, comptroller of Harpsichord Clearing House as published in the August 2018 edition of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter)
Jeannine: Degree earned at the University of Michigan. What was next?
Howard: Ah…a left turn with advantages shall we say. After receiving my MBA degree, I returned to the East Coast and went to work for General Foods Corporation, White Plains, NY. This was during a major recession and inflationary times, and very few companies were hiring. So, food was the place to go. The people were all very nice, very bright, and the company was a Fortune 500 corporation. But, I knew this was not for me long term. After five years, I was recruited to take a position at Standard Brands Corp. in Manhattan. This was a very different environment. While the General Foods employees were well educated and could discuss cultural things, the Standard Brands employees, including the executives were mostly uneducated and had worked their way up through the ranks. They amused themselves by drinking and cursing. They were also very political, as they could not rely on their skills to get themselves ahead. Again, really not for me.
The advantage of being in midtown Manhattan was that one was surrounded by all sorts of culture. I often would stay in the city after work to attend a concert or museum lecture.
Jeannine: How did those advantages mold your future?
Howard: On my lunch hour I sometimes walked over to the Rodgers Organ Studio at Carnegie Recital Hall and would converse with Rick Tripodi and Jim Ramsey. I learned at that time, that Doug Marshall who was a student of Virgil Fox at the same time as I, was selling Rodgers Organs in New England. The wheels began to turn. I am an organist, Virgil Fox was now touring on a Rodgers organ, I have a business degree and music, I have real business experience, hmmmmm. I paid Doug Marshall a visit, and after about a year, Doug and I became the Rodgers organ dealer in New England. Our regional representative was Dave Jordan.
After about eight years, my desire to be involved with real — rather than imitation instruments took over, and Doug and I had a mutually agreeable parting of the ways, and I left the Rodgers Dealership. Doug was a true gentleman about it – always was and always will be a fine individual.
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 and multi-media concert experiences.