Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘pipe organ’

The Mechanical Musical Marvel

The pipe organ is the grandest musical instrument in size and scope, and has existed in its current form since the 14th century.  Along with the clock, it was considered one of the most complex human-made mechanical creations before the Industrial Revolution.  Because of the complexities of this amazing instrument, it is difficult to describe just how a pipe organ works in a succinct manner.

Therefore, when I came across a video commissioned by Birmingham, England’s Town Hall Symphony Hall as part of their Science and Sound educational program, I was thrilled.  Here, finally, is a delightful succinct visual description of the workings of the “King of Instruments.”  Enjoy!

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

Advertisements

WHAT INSPIRES YOUR WORSHIP?

INSPIRATION: the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative

I draw my inspiration to lead worship from

  • The scriptures read by carefully prepared lectorsBible
  • The insightful homily
  • The prayers of the people
  • The serenity of the meticulously followed liturgy
  • The beauty and orderliness of our sanctuary thanks to our Altar Guild
  • And from You – the congregation — by your
    • quiet reverence during the prelude
    • energetic singing of the hymns
    • enthusiasm for an interesting postlude
    • joyous expression of thanks when a particular hymn or piece of music has inspired you

CrossINSPIRE: To fill with enlivening or exalting emotion

It is my hope that the music chosen, sung, and played for our worship inspires you. Not only in the service but in the week that follows. What inspires your worship? What fills you with an enlivening or exalting emotion?

  • The text of a hymn?St. Bede organ.jpg
  • The melody of a hymn?
  • The singing of a psalm?
  • The offering of music by our choir?
  • The prelude or postlude?

______________________________

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Minister of Music and Organist of St. Bede Episcopal Church in Forest Grove, Oregon is also a concert organist performing the organ and multi-media concert experiences, Bach and Sons and From Sea to Shining Sea.

 

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’s In a Hymn Tune Title?

The hymn tune TON-Y-BOTEL (tune in a bottle) also known as EBENEZER is a Welsh tune that first appeared in hymnals in 1890. Often a composer will choose a hymn tune name based on a scriptural reference in the case of EBENEZER. The tune name TON-Y-BOTEL came from a legend about the tune being picked up by a peasant on the coast of the Lleyn Peninsula in a sealed bottle which washed ashore. The title ST. PETERSBURG was probably chosen by the composer Bortnianski because that is the city in which he resided at the time he composed the melody.

You can find a list of the Tune Names included in our 1982 Hymnal on page 1045. You may find more than one page number listed with some titles which means several different texts can be sung to this tune. (Example: TON-Y-BOTEL, pages 381 and 527).

A wonderfully complete website to discover more about hymn tunes and their composers and texts and their writers, is www.hymnary.com. Enjoy!

Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Church and Concert Organist

 

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

 

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!

What is Bach and Sons?

B&S Logo SmallOrganist Jeannine Jordan breathed life into the women in composer Johann Sebastian Bach’s life Sunday in Hillsboro, Oregon. Using her acting skills and her musical talent to present “Bach and Sons,” a multimedia organ concert at Rodgers Instruments Corp.,  Jordan opened her performance with the labored strains of Toccata in D Minor, transporting her audience to the 18th century to meet Bach’s benefactor, his two wives and his daughter. Of his seven children, Bach also had two sons who lived to adulthood.

“I’m always trying to think outside the box to find ways to get people to understand the organ,” said Jordan. “It’s a way to express what the organ really can do — showcase Bach’s music and do it in a 21st century format.” The multimedia presentation March 30 is the only one of its type currently in production, added Jordan.  

Jordan provides the musical prowess and her husband, David, adds technological wizardry that includes multiple cameras, screens, projectors and computerization. He sets up the live shots to play in conjunction with the historical presentation. Cameras show the organist’s fingers and feet (clad in tap shoes, sans taps) deftly working the instrument to punctuate the presentation with the appropriate musical tones.

Jaeckel Tracker Organ Duluth MNThe organist not only plays, she switches vests and scarves as she takes on the persona of the women in Bach’s life in order to tell the story. Jordan’s passion is to introduce the organ to as many people as she can. With the number of students taking piano and organ lessons in decline, “We have to get young people involved so the instrument will survive,” she said.

Her love affair with the organ began in fourth grade, when her piano teacher advised Jordan to begin playing the organ as soon as her legs were long enough. By the time she began organ lessons in seventh grade, she was already in love. It was a good move. “You can put yourself through school, and you can always have a job as an organist,” she reasoned.

Part of the education Jordan hopes to provide is the history of Bach, whose compositions spanned music’s Baroque period before he died in 1750. “Most organists start their playing careers with Bach. I have played many other styles of music, but the ultimate compositions for the organ I believe are by Bach,” Jordan said. Bach was a “consummate musician who was constantly working, not because he was famous at the time, but because he was doing his job,” explained Jordan.

Most listeners may not be able to name most of his compositions, but they recognize the melodies. Bach mastered several instruments, including the violin and harpsichord, but his first love was the organ, which he referred to as “the king of instruments.” This summer, Jordan and her husband will take their show to Europe. While there, she will play in the church where Bach was married, in Germany.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: