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Bach comes alive at organ performance

Organist Jeannine Jordan breathed life into the women in composer Johann Sebastian Bach’s life March 30 in Hillsboro. by: COURTESY PHOTO: BETTY CAMPBELL - Lincoln City resident Jeannine Jordan, who accompanies the St. Bedes Episcopal Church choir in Forest Grove, performed an organ concert in Hillsboro last Sunday.

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 was the only one of its type currently in production, added Jordan, who lives in Lincoln City but commutes to St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in Forest Grove most Sundays to accompany that congregation’s choir on the organ.

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.

The 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 noted.

Her love affair with the organ began when she was very young. When she was in the fourth grade, 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.



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