Frackville native nominated for Grammy award
PRINCETON, N.J. - Frackville native Dr. James Jordan has always been interested in music, and that interest led him to a career as a conductor and composer and a nomination for a Grammy Award.
The Grammy nomination is for James Whitbourn's "Annelies," which is the first major choral setting of the "The Diary of Anne Frank" and which was conducted by Jordan. The "Diary of Anne Frank" is the story of the Jewish family that hid itself away in Nazi-occupied Holland for most of World War II. "Annelies" is Frank's full first name.
The 56th annual Grammy Awards will be held on Jan. 26 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast on CBS at 8 p.m. Jordan plans to attend with his wife, Leslie. The couple have a daughter, Elizabeth, who works in development with the Central Park Conservancy in New York City.
A resident of Yardley, Jordan, 60, is a son of the late Louis and Florence Jordan. A 1971 graduate of North Schuylkill Junior-Senior High School, he earned his undergraduate degree in music education from Susquehanna University, then a master's degree in choral conducting from Temple University, where he also earned his Ph.D. in psychology of music. Jordan also studied in Germany.
"I am the same family as the Jordan Brothers," said Jordan in a phone interview. "My father actually helped some of them musically. He was a keyboard player. His brother was Angelo, the father of the boys."
Jordan said many people in Shenandoah may have known his father, who was an auto mechanic with his own garage, Lou's Auto Repair, at 605 W. Centre St.
"I worked there in the summers," said Jordan.
Jordan was very surprised when he learned of the nomination.
"It was a blur. It's really hard to believe. You can't really describe it. It's surreal," said Jordan. "Every musician dreams of something like this happening, but when it really happens, I still can't believe it actually happened."
Jordan said he and the choir will perform "Annelies" live in the Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, New York City, on April 26.
Jordan explained that he played clarinet when he was young, and he played in the North Schuylkill band under the direction of Dale Schimpf, but later influences moved him into choral music and conducting.
"The Luther College Choir, which is a very renowned college choir, was on tour when I was an undergraduate," said Jordan. "I was very impressed. At Susquehanna University, the choral director, Cyril Stretansky, had a huge influence on me and I decided that this is what I wanted to do. I did sing in a choir, but not a lot. I pursued this area of music because I love choirs."
Jordan taught for eight years at a high school in Lewisburg, then one year at Penn State University (State College), where he conducted the university choir, and moved to the Hartt School of Music, Hartford, Conn., where he was the chairman of music education. After six years at Hartt, he then went to Westminster Choir College, Princeton, N.J., in 1991.
"This is the place in the world for choirs," said Jordan. "We've sung with every major conductor since Toscanini. I came here for the freshman choir. That was my job. I've spent most of my life here. It's the only choral school in the entire world. Everyone sings in a choir. We sing with the New York Philharmonic and Philadelphia Orchestra. The smaller choir that made the CD, 'Williamson Voices,' I established 10 years ago."
Jordan explained that the entire production of "Annelies" is nominated for the Grammy. According to the website Grammy.org, the recording industry's most prestigious award, the Grammy, is presented annually by The Recording Academy. A Grammy is awarded by The Recording Academy's voting membership to honor excellence in the recording arts and sciences. It is truly a peer honor, awarded by and to artists and technical professionals for artistic or technical achievement, not sales or chart positions. The annual Grammy Awards presentation brings together thousands of creative and technical professionals in the recording industry from all over the world.
"The CD is nominated by the Academy," said Jordan. "Basically, the ballot goes only to the voting members of the academy. On our ballot for choral, there were more there 100 CDs on there, and they pick five, and 'Annelies" was one of them. Right now, another vote is taking place to decide the winner from those five."
While winning the award would be great, being nominated is an honor.
"As our president of the university said, being a nominee means that you already won," said Jordan. "It almost never happens to a college choir, just professional choirs. We've already won in a way. The students in the school are incredibly proud because it puts us on a world stage. Most of the choir on this CD are undergraduate students. It's amazing. They're not professional musicians. And the CD is on the Naxos label, which is the largest classical music label in the world, so we're very fortunate for that, too."
Jordan also spoke of the composer, James Whitbourn, who is a friend. "Annelies" is the second recording on which Jordan has worked with Whitbourn.
According to information provided by the college, Jordan is recognized and praised around the musical world as one of the nation's pre-eminent conductors, writers and innovators in choral music. The most published performer/author in the world, he has authored more than 30 books on all aspects of the choral art, he has been described as a "visionary" by The Choral Journal. His book, "Evoking Sound," was named as a "must read" on a list of six books by The Choral Journal. At Westminster Choir College, he is professor and senior conductor and also conducts the Westminster Schola Cantorum in addition to the Williamson Voices.
Jordan will be accorded two distinctive honors this year for his contributions to choral music around the world. He will be inducted by the Temple University Alumni Association into its Hall of Success and will be given an honorary Doctor of Music by the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.
The CD can be purchased at music stores, Amazon.com, iTunes, and others.