Dr. Jeannine Jordan, Concert Organist

Posts tagged ‘promotion music’

Have You Found Something Amazing Today?

“If you haven’t found something amazing in music you experience during the day, it hasn’t been much of a day.”

How did you play the piece for the hundredth time and still feel amazed by its power?    For me, that piece is Johann Sebastian Bach’s Fugue in E-flat Major (The St. Anne).  I am and always will be in awe of this profound and amazing music expressing so completely the mysterious and awesome power of the Holy Trinity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJmxQ7zYcow&feature=related

The implication here is that we must pay attention to the everything in each piece of music being practiced, performed, listened to, or taught.  We must actively engage in the work of making music as a participant, not as a spectator. We must bring all our senses into play in each encounter and every circumstance.

Jeannine Jordan, concert organist

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Act Like You Are Being Watched!

You act like you’re being watched. You make sure your integrity is passed along to future generations through your example.

As musicians we are always being watched or listened to in one way or another. Barbara Killinger in her book, Integrity, presents advice for musicians quoting a song by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine from their insightful musical, Into the Woods:

“Careful of the things you say,
Children (students, congregations, audiences, colleagues) will listen.

Careful of the things you do,
Children (students, congregations, audiences, colleagues) will see
And learn.

Children (students, congregations, choirs, audiences, colleagues) will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.

Careful before you say,
‘Listen to me.’
Children (students, congregations, audiences, colleagues) will listen.”

Dr. Jeannine Jordan,  teacher, church musician, and concert organist

Being Honest But Modest–Trait of a Musician With Integrity

You’re honest but modest. You let your actions speak louder than words.

I frequently talk about and write about the two “P” words—Practice and Performance. However, it is important that I do more than talk and write about this subject; I also practice, create and perform new programs hoping that my example will encourage my students to work toward their practice and performance goals.

Creating programs takes sometimes months of research. Programs with a theme are always audience pleasers.  Discovering that theme can take many twists and turns:  an article read, a new piece performed, a thought from a student, an idea found while walking the beach or walking through an art gallery all can lead to that “new” program.  Sometimes the “discovery” phase can take weeks or even months.  Once the theme is solidified though, the creation of the program can begin.

For a program such as my organ and media event, Bach and Sons, the idea came from a series of solo organ concerts I presented at the Abbey Bach Festival where I played on one night the secular organ music of Johann Sebastian, Carl Phillip Emmanuel, and Wilhelm Friedemann Bach and on the second night the sacred organ music of those composers.  These programs planted the seed for Bach and Sons.

Eighteen months later, after extensive research, practice, and preparation and with the help of an eight member focus group the concert was premiered in Anchorage, Alaska to an enthusiastic audience.  Since then it has enjoyed many performances.

My students are well aware that I not only talk the talk about practice and performance, but spend hours a day in practice for those many performances throughout the year as a concert organist.

Preparing for the Future as Church Organists

It was my privilege to serve as the organ clinician at a recent Church Music Institute workshop in Portland, Oregon for church musicians and clergy.  We had the opportunity to share ideas with colleagues, celebrate worship together and revel in a day of joyous music making and music sharing.  It was a day for church leaders to be mindful of the past, to strengthen our commitment to the present, and to prepare for the future.

What does it mean for a church organist to prepare for the future?  A thought-provoking question for all organists involved in church music to be sure.  Will the future of church music leadership look like it does today?  Will my church remain the same?  What about the new hymnals being compiled?   Will I be asked to play music of a different style than I now play?  Will the congregation continue to enjoy the traditional hymns of the church or will they prefer something more contemporary?  Will the organ continue to be an important instrument in our worship?

There are more questions than answers to be sure, but communication I believe is the key for preparing for the future as church musicians.  Communication not only with the members and staff of your current church, but communication with other organists and church leaders from around the area.  Sharing ideas with colleagues in a positive enriching way at workshops such as the CMI conference in Portland prepares one for the future.  Reading, listening, and studying to enrich your skills and enhance your knowledge not only of today’s worship styles but past worship trends also point the way to the future.

Look to the future as an exciting adventure instead of a daunting task–one to be anticipated by every church organist.

Strengthening our Commitment to the Present as Organists

The Church Music Institute of Dallas, Texas sponsored a day-long workshop for musicians and pastors in the Pacific Northwest in mid-August.  CMI is dedicated to the practice, advancement and stewardship of the best of liturgical and sacred music for worshiping Christian congregations while being mindful of the past, strengthening commitments to the present, and preparing for the future as worship leaders.

What does it mean for church organists in particular to strengthen our commitment to the present?  Many of us from our education and training have one foot in the world of classical organ music (the past) and often the other (by necessity) in the realm of contemporary worship music.   How do we as church organists find a meaningful way to stay committed to the present, to find a balance for our worshiping congregations between the past and the future?  How do we negotiate this often confusing contrast between music of the past and music of the future for our congregations worshiping this week?

Is the “something for everyone” approach in planning music for worship right for your church?  Or is the “block approach” where a particular service includes more “traditional” music and another “contemporary” music appropriate?  Those are the questions an organist in collaboration with the pastor and other worship leaders must answer.  Only through constant meaningful communication can the commitment to the present be realized by church organists.

A Wedding in Dornheim

(The year in Muhlhausen as told by Maria Barbara Bach, JS Bach’s first wife)

Bach Wedding Church in Dornheim

Johann Sebastian Bach and I were married on October 17, 1707.  It was a lovely affair starting in Arnstadt and continuing in Dornheim four miles away.  We had such a grand time walking with all our family and friends to the little village church in Dornheim where a friend of the family married us.

After our celebration, we immediately moved to Muhlhausen where Johann had already begun his work several months earlier.  I will now be with Johann to support him, provide a home for him, and to encourage him in all his musical efforts.

Things are definitely looking up in Muhlhausen.  Students have started coming to Johann Sebastian asking for lessons.  If you are a genius, it is a gift to be taught by Johann Sebastian Bach.  If not…well things can be a little tough.

However, now that we are settled in Muhlhausen, we are finding that the congregation at St. Blaise’s is basically Pietist.   We now know that Pietists believe in extreme simplicity – simplicity in everything including their music.   I am told they are afraid of the excessive use of music and art in worship, with its temptations to worldliness.  Some church people even wanted a complete ban on instrumental music in the service.  This was not good, because what my Johann plays for them is his wonderful but complex contrapuntal music.

I have begun to wonder if St. Blaise’s in Muhlhausen is such a good place for us or not.  What were they thinking when they hired my Johann Sebastian Bach?

(The anecdote above is one of a dozen vignettes from the multi-media and organ program, Bach and Sons, presented by Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist.)

JS Bach Leaves Arnstadt for Muhlhausen

(JS Bach’s move to Muhlhausen as recounted by Maria Barbara Bach, JS Bach’s future wife.)

With the many challenges facing Johann Sebastian in Arnstadt, I decided to talk with my relative Johann Bellstedt in Muhlhausen.  I told him Johann was very unhappy and was looking for a new position as a church organist.

Blasiikirche in Muhlhausen

Upon learning this news, Herr Bellstedt, immediately asked Johann to come try out the new organ at St. Blaise’s in Muhlhausen—on Easter Sunday no less!  Well, of course everyone was very impressed with Johann’s virtuosity and the board decided on the spot that my JS was the man for the organist position.

It is so exciting.  Now, with this new position and its great salary of 85 gulden and a promise of 54 bushels of grain, two cords of wood and six bundles of brushwood, my Johann tells me we can get married and that we will immediately move to Muhlhausen to start our new life together.

(The anecdote above is one of a dozen vignettes from the multi-media and organ program, Bach and Sons, presented by David Jordan, media artist with Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist.)

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