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Composer Jordan Jinosko returns for spring instrumental concert

Composer Jordan Jinosko returns to watch a performance of “Three Sketches of Unblemished Earth.”
Kai Lincke ’22
Jordan Jinosko visits Strath Haven High school for the performance of their piece: Freya’s Chariot

You can hear the voice of Freya, the Norse goddess of war and magic, in an unlikely place: the oboes of a high school’s symphony orchestra. 

Much of award-winning composer Jordan Jinosko’s music is inspired by mythology, including the piece “Freya’s Chariot” which debuted at last year’s spring concert at Haven. 

“[Freya’s Chariot] essentially shows her leading the charge for these Norse Vikings against their enemies. It musically allows for a lot of imagination and a lot of interesting textures,” Jinosko said. 

When it was showcased, music director Mr. Nicholas Pignataro decided to restart the piece after the orchestra began playing it. 

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Jinosko appreciated that Pignataro decided to let the orchestra try again. 

“You know, anytime you’re doing a performance, there’s the chance that things could get off on the wrong foot. I think so often it feels like a terrible thing, like a last resort, to start again, but in a lot of situations, it’s actually the best decision,” Jinosko said. 

Spring 2022 Band and Orchestra Concert | Media Lab 223

Jinosko is returning to Strath Haven for this year’s spring concert where the orchestra will be performing her piece “Three Sketches of Unblemished Earth,” which recalls a trip she took along the Appalachian Trail.

The movements correlate with different moments and experiences on her trip. 

“The first movement, water, recalls the early mornings when I was hiking the trail, I would get out of my tent, and I would look and I’d see the mist that gathered over the nearby lakes and, and I would just be drawn to introspection, you know, and meditation,” Jinosko said.

The second movement picks up the pace. 

“The second movement is essentially folksy travelling music, and it’s kind of represents a more active time of day, you’re hiking along the trail, and you see squirrels scurrying,” she said.

The third movement is height, and it not only connects with the scene, but it serves as a reminder of our current climate crisis. 

“It’s the music that I started to hear in my head when I was looking out for the top of these mountains, and hills, and cliffs. And really, ultimately, I want the piece to be a reminder of the beauty of the earth and, a reminder of everything that we have to lose if we don’t change as a society and fight the global climate crisis,” Jinosko said. 

Not only her work, which comments on current issues like climate change, but her experiences speak to students and listeners. 

“It’s really important for me to just be able to connect with students,” she said. “Growing up doing music, I didn’t actually have any representation for anyone that looked like me or felt like me in any way. I think what I saw at Strath Haven was that I think some people saw themselves reflected in the programming.”

“I think it’s amazing to be able to be a composer and be Asian American, and to be transgender,” she said. 

Pignataro has been working to expose students to a diversified repertoire of composers. 

“I just think that our curriculum should look like the people that we’re teaching, or that we’re trying to be. I know that so many of our orchestra and chorus, they’re not necessarily old white men, in fact, none of them are. In particular, I just feel like so many people are orchestras are so diverse, and I just feel like the music should definitely be too,” Pignataro said. 

Pignataro has noticed the effects of including diverse music in the concerts. 

“She’s a transgender Asian woman and, her ability to talk about that while she was with us, resonated with a lot of students whether they identify as transgender or not. So much of her visit had nothing to do with music to me, actually like, she stayed for hours and talked to individuals,” he said. 

Jinosko thinks these connections are key, and urges students to contact Pignataro if they are interested in receiving more information about composing or music theory. 

“Maybe some students aren’t as engaged in orchestra, or maybe some of them aren’t planning on going into music in terms of their vocation, and some of them are, but connecting with students is a really important part of visiting the schools for me,” she said. “So I’m really excited to be a resource for any students that would like to have a little window into the life of a full-time composer.”

Students and community members will be able to hear Jinosko’s music live at the Spring Concert on May 18.

This story was originally published on Panther Press on May 11, 2023.