Jordan Alexander Key (b. 1990): Composer, Musicologist, Organist, Bagpiper


Jordan Alexander Key: The University of Florida College of fine Arts, School of Music, Room 334 Gainesville, Florida, 32611-5

Jordan currently pursues his PhD in composition at the University of Florida. Previously, he studied and taught at The University of Arizona, where he earned his Master of Music degree in Composition under Professor Daniel Asia. Jordan earned his Bachelor's degrees at the College of Wooster in Ohio under composer Jack Gallagher. While there, Jordan studied music theory/composition, Eastern Asian studies, and mathematics. His more significant recent projects include performances by the Boston String Quartet of his String Quartet No. 1 and the Vancouver Art Song Lab of his "God Ourselves,” as well as his work with the Florida Players on theatrical music for Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play. Along with his current work as music designer for The Seagull, Jordan also anticipates the display of his recent audio-visual projects as part of the Wolfsburg Kunstmuseum’s new exhibit, “Never Ending Stories: The Loop in Art, Film, Architecture, and Music,” in Germany this winter. Jordan is also an active performer as a organist, bagpiper, and singer. He gives regular organ recitals, focusing on lesser performed repertoire from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, and the 20th and 21st centuries. Jordan has conducted numerous lecture recitals on early bagpipe music in Scotland as well as experimental techniques on the modern bagpipe. As a singer, Jordan has directed and performed as a bass voice in numerous early music ensembles. His most recent early music ensemble, SEMPRA, focuses on unrecorded music from the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

While pursuing his PhD, Jordan pursues research on a variety of topics. Currently he is working on two projects: one comparing the music 15th century composer Alexander Agricola and the paintings of contemporary artist, Hieronymus Bosch; the other focused on a cross-disciplinary approach to the music of Conlon Nancarrow understood through contemporary mathematical, physical, and artistic trends, looking at the work of Georg Cantor, Albert Einstein, and MC Escher. Along with his professional academic research, Jordan also maintains a regular research blog and YouTube page, where he writes about, presents, and illustrates lesser known works and composers of merit. As part of this, Jordan makes many creative transcriptions, which have been featured in numerous performances and exhibitions in the USA and Europe.

Website: https://www.jordanalexanderkey.com/ _____ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCL8_HqaJTcCXwOg-ej5GsGA?view_as=subscriber _______________ SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/jordanalexanderkey Research: https://florida.academia.edu/JordanAlexanderKey _____ Blog: https://www.jordanalexanderkey.com/theneglectedcomposer

Compositions

String Quartet No. 1, "The Vision of Cataclysm"
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The Vision of Cataclysm is about the Ancient Grecian belief in the periodic destruction of the cosmos by a great conflagration every “Great Year”. The cosmos is then recreated, only to be destroyed again at the end of another new cycle. The Ancient Stoics believed that this Great Year (the complete cycle of the equinox through all zodiac signs taking approximately 25,800 years) would end with the complete destruction of the cosmos in a conflagration or great cataclysmic fire, to then be recreated in a primordial state. The movements of this piece follow the progression of this Cosmic Consummation, called Ekpyrosis by the Greeks, from the final “Precession of the Equinox”, to the “Vision of Cataclysm” portrayed in the ancient Greek poem The Song of the Sybil, then “De Regressu ad Deorum” (The Return of the Gods) to destroy the universe, and ending with the destruction of the universe in the Ekpyrosis or “The Great Conflagration.”
Art Song, "God Ourselves" for Soprano, Piano, and Fixed Media
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​Written in collaboration with poet Karen Garry, this piece was commissioned by Vancouver Art Song Lab and Vancouver International Queer Arts Festival during the Summer of 2016. As residents of central Florida, active members in the LBGTQ community, and present in Orlando on June 12, 2016, Jordan Key and his partner, Jason Johnson, were directly effected by the Pulse Nightclub shootings. Having lost friends and community close to them - feeling anger, horror, and fear - Jordan wrote this music within the week following the massacre. Attempting to speak to a broader community of queer peoples beyond his state and country, Jordan decided to accompany the art song duo with recordings of his international LBGTQ friends reading Karen’s poem in English as well as translations to their own native languages, including French, German, Polish, Arabic, Afrikaans, and Xhosa. God Ourselves is part of an ongoing project to contribute to the relatively small repertoire of gay or “queer” themed art song. Inspired by texts questioning popular notions of “god” while juxtaposing seemingly incompatible concepts of institutionalized religion, spirituality, naturism, and homosexuality, this piece attempts to “queer” expectations of song for both audiences and performers. While there are only two “seen” performers, there are conceptually four: the keyboard, singer, tape, and piano interior. Just as Schubert’s famous “Der Erlkonig” suggests four characters within in its musical narrative, so too this piece suggests four essential “speakers:” the singer (the poet), the pianist (the music), the tape (the voice of the queer community), and the piano interior (the voice of “god”). Though the interplay of these four media, those aspects of art song, which are usually segregated – the text, song, composer, poet, pianist, and vocalist – find a meeting place. The composer-poet and poem-song dualism are bridged through the juxtaposition of spoken word and sung text, while the pianist-singer dualism is bridged through their mutual interplay within the piano.
Improvisation Study No 1 - The Secret Labyrinth
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Improvisation Study No. 1: “The Secret Labyrinth” grew out of a recent project wherein Jordan was commissioned to teach musically illiterate theater students how to improvise on non-traditional musical instruments. The goal of the musical result was to “create little pieces of music that sound strange and experimental,” all of which were ultimately featured as part of a series of musico-theatrical vignettes at the University of Florida. To compliment this series of improvisational performances by the actors, Jordan created this fixed media work, which demonstrates the various sound possibilities on the found and made instruments. This work, fashioned from short sound samples of the instruments, aims to mimic the real-time acoustic experience of musical improvisation.
Chorale Prelude - Christ Lag in Todesbanden
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A chorale prelude for pipe organ on the tune "Christ lag in Todesbanden." This piece consists of three layers. The uppermost part is a repeating set of trichords under isorhythm, reminiscent of Olivier Messiaen. The middle voice is the cantus firmus, infused with hexatonic embellishments. The lowermost voice is a simple chromatic line descending from the uppermost to the lowermost pedal on the organ; this descent is timed so that the arrival on the lowest pedal tone coincides with the full rotation of the trichordal set through the isorhythmic procedure. To accomplish this, the pedal tones are in units of seven quarter notes. Ultimately the sound is a regular spectral re-contextualization of the harmonic underpinnings of the chorale tune. Simple and formulaic, this piece attempts to be pedagogically compositional.