The Inside Voice

The Inside Voice: An Interview with James Jordan

July 24, 2015

Look at any extensive library of musical literature and you will see not one, but many books by James Jordan. No writer is more prolific in the realm of vocal technique, rehearsal strategies, conducting, and what it takes to succeed in the world of choral music. Jordan is a professor and the Senior Conductor at Westminster Choir College, conducting Westminster Schola Cantorum and the Westminster Williamson Voices.

He is the recipient of a number of awards and has gained critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Pepper Editor Chris Titko was able to sit down with Mr. Jordan and discuss a number of topics ranging from his introduction to music to his latest book.

Perhaps most fascinating is the story of how James Jordan came to be interested in choral conducting. Surprisingly, he was not a serious musician until he entered Susquehanna University. After two years of pre-med, Jordan decided to change his major to music. He was rejected after his first audition, but his determination impressed the Music Education Department and he was enrolled. Though he never sang in high school, James Jordan fell in love with choral music while attending a Luther College Choir concert with his now wife.

Mr. Jordan also talks about his book The Musician’s Soul and its importance as a starting block for choral conducting. In this book, he has compiled a number of different conducting philosophies in one easily accessible place. He has succeeded in creating a comprehensive text that is perfect for a young conductor looking to take that first step toward becoming a professional.

Jordan also speaks to the emotional aspect of conducting a choir in the video The Human Connection. Among the most important facets of music are the shared feelings of the performers. He describes a trip to a local middle school where one of his students worked and was shocked at the difficulty of the pieces his student had chosen. What was more striking, however, was how the students not only rose to the challenge but also bonded together through their love of the music.

There is much more to learn and enjoy in this video playlist. Click here to view them all.

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10 Comments

  • Reply jonathan July 28, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    Who is the accompanist here?

    • Reply Jen Tolnay July 29, 2015 at 5:29 pm

      Hi Jonathan, the accompanist for Let the People Praise Thee is Joel Trekle. The other accompanist, for Westminster Williamson Voices is Corey Everly.

      Thanks for your question!

  • Reply Brian Wilbur Grundstrom August 9, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    James Jordan was a music inspiration for me growing up in Lewisburg, PA. I probably would not be where I am today had it not been for him.

  • Reply John Kurtz August 9, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    Hey Jim,

    Just wanted to reach out and say Hi. I’ve seen you in the news a couple times recently. I have fond memories of LAHS choir and of course the FBC choir. Thanks!

    John

  • Reply Mitch Tyson August 12, 2015 at 3:08 am

    I just want to say, being a 1970 grad from WCC and having George Lynn as an inspiration in my day, I thoroughly enjoyed these interviews with James Jordan. I witnessed his talent and personality when I attended Alumni week this past May. His choirs are amazing! And Chris Titko, you probably don’t remember me, but you were still in high school when I became the Music Director at a church in Perrysburg, OH where you Dad was pastor. I am still there! I was thrilled to see that you are an editor at JW Pepper. Been using their services for over 40 years!!!!

  • Reply Chris Titko August 12, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Mitch – Thanks so much for your note. I agree, being a part of Westminster has and continues to provided us with lots of great memories. I remember my high school years in Perrysburg very well. Believe it or not I took care of the lawn and landscaping at the church for 3 or 4 years. 7 acres. I learned a lot. I also practiced on the organ at the church. I think it is great that you are still serving that church. Grace and peace to you – Let’s keep in touch. If you ever need assistance with any repertoire questions or help in solving a problem feel free to let me know. ctitko at jwpepper.com

  • Reply Miriam October 12, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Who is the author of the book he mentions? “We Belong to One Another”?

    • Reply Jen Tolnay October 12, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      I believe he says Doug Sturm.

  • Reply Jolie Westerman October 21, 2015 at 1:24 am

    Mr Jordan was one of the most influential people in my life, and I think all that were with me in his choirs at LAHS would agree! I’m very proud to say that I was coached by him, and will forever continue to absolutely LOVE the sound of voices singing together because of him (not to mention singing alone in the car :P). I still remember many of those pieces by heart, and will sing them at random often. Of all the childhood things I’ve gotten rid of along the way, I will NEVER get rid of my old choir folder…. If there were more people like him, the world would be a much better place. Still fondly love you and miss you, Mr Jordan!!

  • Reply mobile Muhammad October 4, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Wow.

  • Leave a Reply to mobile Muhammad Cancel Reply