Dr. Jeff Jordan | Composer, Conductor
Dr. Jeff Jordan recently retired from Fort Hays State University after nineteen years of service where he conducted the Wind Ensemble, assisted with the Tiger Marching band and taught courses in conducting and music education as well as instructed the horn studio.
Prior to arriving at FHSU, he taught band for sixteen years at all levels in the public schools of Kansas and Florida. Dr. Jordan holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education from Florida Southern College, a Master’s in Composition from the University of Kansas and earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music.
His principal teachers have included Gary Hill and Sarah McKoin (conducting), as well as John Pozdro, James Barnes, Jack Stamp and Paul Rudy (composition).
Dr. Jordan’s recent compositions include Psalms, Praises and Gifts commissioned by the Fort Hays State University Concert Choir, Too Soon for Thunder for band, and Salute! for brass choir and timpani. Salute! was one of seven winners selected in the Dallas Wind Symphony’s annual Fanfare Competition. He is also one of several composers invited to be a part of the Ralph Vaughan Williams transcription series for Symphonic, Intermediate and Brass Bands from GIA Publications in collaboration with Oxford University Press.
BEYOND THE BIO
Why do you compose?
I love sounds and I love sharing them with people.
What is your inspiration for your compositions?
Who are your influences?
This is always a tough one because there are so many and the list is always getting new additions, so this may be a slightly longer answer than the previous one, but an incomplete list includes J. S. Bach, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Gustav Mahler, Igor Stravinsky, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Vincent Persichetti, Peter Mennin, William Schuman,Joseph Schwantner, Stan Kenton, Clifton Williams Mason Bates and Pat Metheny.
Were there any “defining moments” that lead you to where you are?
Several. In eighth grade, at which time I had no interest in music beyond that of a listener, I took a music appreciation class. The teacher, Tom McKinnon, played a Maynard Ferguson arrangement of a Janis Joplin tune called “Move Over.” That got my attention. Next, he played Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood.” I went straight to our record collection to see if we had it (we did) and proceeded to wear out the LP.
The following year, my Dad ordered one of those Time-Life record collections focusing on the big band/swing era. This time, it caught my attention to the degree that I decided to take up an instrument.
I started trumpet lessons and joined the band at Sarasota High School. My junior year (I had by now switched to horn), the band played Vincent Persichetti’s Symphony for Band. At that point, I knew music was going to be more than a hobby.
What kind of impact did your teachers make?
As I’ve grown older, I think that there are several things great teachers do--they role-model, they see potential, and they lead their students through a discovery process.
My high school band director, Ed Santana, exposed me to a world of music I couldn’t imagine at the time.
My high school choir/jazz band director, Andy Wright was the supreme setter of musical standards and what it took to really be called a musician.
My college band director, Jim Slutz, sat me first chair--a position I was egregiously unqualified for--forcing me to become a better player very quickly.
My college choir director, Bennett Penn, exposed me to some of the greatest music ever written.
Later in graduate school, Jim Barnes taught me voluminous amounts about composition, scoring and the importance of listening to the great works.
Charles Hoag pushed me out of my comfort zone in terms of my compositional vocabulary and the extraordinary John Pozdro could always turn a bad lesson into a great one (I still don’t know how he did it).
I learned a lot about self-evaluation from Paul Rudy and Gary Hill, though not a composer, introduced me to a new way of looking at a piece’s substance.
Jack Stamp, whom I badgered into giving me composition lessons, has been a tremendous source of knowledge and support.