How did you end up playing the viola?
Long story….but in a nut shell, I was always interested in music and instruments as a youngster, and I played the piano from a young age.
On deciding to study GCSE music around age 15, I wanted to learn another instrument, so decided to take up the trombone – which didn’t last more than a term at school, as it coincided with an extensive period of orthodontic treatment during my teens. I remember buying an album of the Brandenburg Concertos and being completely captivated by this music, the sound world and how it all made me feel.
I then wondered if I could learn the violin, as a few of my school friends played string instruments, and they were part of the local authority youth orchestra. I asked my school music teacher about violin lessons, and the next thing I heard about it I was being offered viola lessons. I had no idea what the viola was, other than it looked like a violin. So I thought, sure I’ll give it a go! So I’m a born and bred viola player!
What’s exciting for you to join the English Concert?
I have played with TEC for a few years now and always felt strongly drawn to the repertoire that they explore – especially the close relationship that the group has with interpreting Handel’s music. I adore Handel’s vocal and operatic works, and it just so happens that there is an abundance of this to play throughout each season….!
Violas are often the centre of jokes in the music business. What’s your take on that?
Oh you learn quickly to build a thick skin in this industry, or at least it can sometimes help! But I’d be in denial if I didn’t say I loved the incessant drollery, that is sometimes impressively creative.
I do have some favourites…
How do you see the role of the viola section in an orchestra?
My personal view of our roles as violists (especially in smaller scale orchestral works) is that, as purveyors of the middle texture, and usually heavily steering the harmonic content, we have a huge responsibility in terms of how things are communicated and transferred throughout the ranks of the musical and instrumental textures.
I channel a lot of thought into the quality of sound that I create, in order to facilitate other more melodic lines to shimmer more brightly on top of this inner texture.
Developing an instinct to know when and how to pioneer these inner lines, and drawing an ear in closer is something that really interests me.
I find myself constantly aware of what is going on around me – not only musically and technically, but also crucially socially. A basic advantage to being mostly burrowed within the texture, you are usually physically positioned right in the centre of the action. This gives you a vantage point of what is going on, and being able to react quickly but perhaps more importantly, concisely can certainly keep you on your toes!
Originally from the North East of England, Jordan is an established and sought after exponent of period instruments in the UK and further afield.
He studied the Baroque viola and Historical Performance as a scholar at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and graduated with a first-class Master of Arts degree in 2014.
Jordan now holds the positions of co-principal viola with The English Concert and principal viola with the Irish Baroque Orchestra. He is also a member of the Academy of Ancient Music, and is regularly invited to play as guest principal with many other leading period instrument groups.
Away from music, Jordan enjoys being by the coast, exploring new places and also investing some of his other time into Marine Conservation – with a particular passion for White Sharks.