I was raised in the Chicago metropolitan area and began piano studies at the age of ten. The daughter of a Presbyterian minister, I welcomed every opportunity to play for anyone who would listen - and probably for a few who would just as soon not have. Granted a scholarship to Northwestern University as a piano major, I honed my musical skills and perfected my OCD in the process! I had the significant honor as an undergraduate of working with Chicago Symphony Chorus founder and director Margaret Hillis as an accompanist, organist, and choral singer, and was chosen by Ms. Hillis to play for the premiere concert of the Dame Myra Hess series at the Chicago Cultural Center.
In my senior year of studies at Northwestern, I was selected as the first apprentice coach-accompanist in the young artist program at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Following this intensive training, I had the opportunity to spend a summer working with the late baritone Tito Gobbi at his opera institute in Florence, Italy, coaching many rising young opera singers. I was then awarded a full fellowship to Northwestern University’s graduate school for a Master of Music degree in piano. Concurrent with that, I was actively pursuing a professional career in Chicago as a freelance coach-accompanist, working with the Chicago Opera Theatre and accompanying auditions for the Metropolitan Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, and San Francisco Opera programs.
Hearing God’s call to ministry, I entered a whole new season of my life: being completely available to God to do whatever He calls me to do for His kingdom. Shortly after leaving my faculty position at Rice, I had the opportunity to train to become a volunteer chaplain at St. Luke's - The Woodlands Hospital. Having been a guest at a fair number of hospitals, I never would have imagined that I would feel compelled to work in one - but I discovered a passion for ministering to the sick. In fact, I am now so immersed in hospital ministry that we've added a new tab to the website, CHP Hospital Chapel Ministry. Please visit that page to see how all of this has progressed.
Philippe and I have the great privilege of serving as Global Leaders through ILI (International Leadership Institute), a Christian organization that involves leaders training leaders throughout the world in the Eight Core Values of our faith. So far, we have taught ILI in Brazil, the Czech Republic, Colombia, Belize, Ukraine, Israel, Palestine, and Argentina, and had the distinct honor of leading the first ILI History Makers USA conference in March, 2012.
It is a great joy to incorporate my music into these conferences whenever possible. During an ILI History Makers - Ukraine conference, I was asked by the worship leader to play the piano during evening prayer time. The glory of the Lord came over that place as we felt His presence in a spine-tingling way, with the results ending up on YouTube.
Another opportunity to share musically came at a healing prayer summit at YWAM in Chatel, Switzerland. Just a few months after major surgery for a cancer recurrence in April, 2016, I attended this conference and was asked to play something to introduce the evening’s speaker. The presence of God that was ushered into the room through that music was so thick that the doctor who was to have spoken whispered, “Jan, keep playing.” For over two hours, the Spirit of God ministered to everyone present through music. The speaker never spoke, but the Holy Spirit worked through worship.
My CD entitled In Perfect Peace was recorded at the request of our former church to bring comfort to those who are suffering and has seen many individuals through difficult nights and trials. In 2014, I recorded another CD, We Are His People, with classical piano pieces overlaid with spoken psalms. I had the honor of releasing it in Jerusalem as a gift to the Jewish Agency for Israel. All proceeds benefit that organization.
Music, in the words of Martin Luther, is a fair and glorious gift of God and a tremendous joy in my life. But sometimes we need to enlarge our territory and challenge our comfort zones, right? During our first trip to Israel in April of 2013, I began to have the urge to play the harp. Reinforced by a second ministry trip to Jerusalem in September of 2013, this latent desire was realized when Philippe gave me a beautiful Celtic minstrel harp the next year for Christmas! I continue to revel in this endeavor, having decided that it really is okay sometimes to just make a joyful noise!
Needing something a bit more compact for travel purposes, I decided to tackle another instrument, the alto recorder (wooden flute). Having mastered the soprano recorder many years ago, I was surprised at the difficulties inherent in a much larger instrument, further complicated by its being based on the key of F rather than C. Feeling like I had regressed to kindergarten, I sequestered myself behind closed doors, even then waiting for my husband and son to leave the house before deigning to practice. Yet it all paid off, and I made my debut at one of our CHP hospitals, playing Christmas carols in the chapel.
We don’t need to be perfect or even skilled to praise the Lord. In fact, His word encourages us to “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!” (Psalm 98:4) God loves our praises and makes His home in them, for He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). Miracles happen when God’s children worship Him. Try it.
Praise The Lord with the harp; make music to Him on the tenstringed lyre. Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy! - Psalm 33:2,3