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David Drinkell

John Jordan

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Folowing the report of the death of Philip Ledger, it has been announced that his successor at Chelmsford Cathedral, John Jordan, died recently on his 71st birthday. Like Philip, John was the youngest cathedral organist in the country at the time of his appointment. There is an affectionate obituary on the Cathedral website:

 

http://www.chelmsfor...ohn-jordan.html

 

As a young Essex organist, I knew John years ago. He signed my RCO application form and then let me loose on the organ during lunch-hour when there was nobody about - the first time I had had such freedom on a cathedral organ. He was a convivial character and enjoyed a pint or three. I had a teacher at school who was up at Cambridge at the same time as John, who told me that he always won the King Street Run - a more demanding feat in those days when there were more pubs in King Street than there are now.

 

After Chelmsford, he went to run a Yamaha Music School in Sarawak, and then retired to Norfolk where he directed the music at St. Margaret, King's Lynn and the RC Shrine at Walsingham.

 

A nice guy, apart from his very great talents as a musician. May he rest in peace.

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John Jordan directed the music at the Roman Catholic, not the Anglican, Shrine at Walsingham.

 

It seems that he played 'with his usual zest' on the Feast of St. Cecilia (November 22nd) and died the following evening. To those close to him it must have been a terrible shock but I hope that my end is as quick!

 

The Reception of the Body will take place on Thursday 6th December at 4.30 pm in the Slipper Chapel. The Funeral will take place on Friday 7th December at 12 noon in the Chapel of Reconciliation.

 

May he rest in peace.

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John was both foolhardy enough to allow me to give one of the lunchtime recitals (this was on the ‘old’ HN&B, buried behind an arch) and allow my student choir to visit and perform choral evensong.

 

He was a choir trainer who inspired the (Chelmsford) Cathedral Choir to achieve the seemingly impossible and hardly seemed to encounter anything like technical problems whilst playing. Did he ever practise ? Everything was done with such ease.

 

I remember journeying to Cambridge, to hear him play a breathtaking recital at King’s, culminating in a Reger war-horse. Did he really play that without one slip ?

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Having returned to the site today after a protracted absence it was a great sadness to come across this item. I too have fond memories of JJ being a pupil at KEGS when he was on the staff and a regular attender at evensong in the cathedral and at the Golden Fleece or Lion and Lamb afterwards.What a different world that was: what teacher today would dare to sit in the bar of a public house with some of his sixth form pupils whom he would have known were not of an age to be there? Not that I suffered in any way from the experience: on the contrary, I think it was he and his playing that started my lifelong love affair with the organ and its music. I remember he had a particular fondness for a bright red waistcoat that made him resemble (depending on your point of reference) a robin or a bow street runner. He was also, at least in those days, a great employer of the Tuba at all times and in all places and I recollect him complaining vociferously that he could not play a service without it when it started misbehaving one day and had to be taken out of use pending a vist from the tuner.We lost contact when I left Essex to go to University, never to return as a resident, but I always kept my eyes open for a recording of him playing. Sadly I never encountered one and to the best of my knowledge and belief none exist. If anyone has information to the contrary I would be glad to know of it.

 

Brian Childs

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Yes, the last time I heard him play at Chelmsford was at a licensing of lay-readers, when he woke everyone up with a couple of blasts on the Tuba during "The Church's one foundation" ("the cry goes up, 'HOW LONG?'"). Our Rector turned to me and said, 'Strewth, he's as bad as you!'

 

I remember the waistcoat too....

 

Incidentally, I liked the old Chelmsford organ. Does anyone else remember it? And did it go anywhere, or was it scrapped? It had a half-decent case, too.

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