Jaime Jorge: Dialogue with a world-renowned Adventist violinist
Your dad was a pastor in Cuba. Was growing up a Christian in communist Cuba difficult for you?
Just about all Christian young people experienced some kind of harassment and alienation. In school, we were made fun of by the students and the teachers. We were often interrogated about our beliefs and belittled for not being communists. Even in our neighborhoods, some kids would not allow us to join in playing games because of our religious convictions. We never knew when they would include us, leave us alone, or tease us.
Music has always been important in your family. Your mother was an accomplished musician herself. But what was it about the violin that drew you? What led you to work so hard to master it?
What initially drew me to the violin was its ability to communicate so much: there was room for deep passion, guts, but also for sweetness and delicateness. But really, what led me to work so hard was my mother’s commitment to my developing the talent that God had given me. I loved to perform, but hated to practice. She forced me to practice. The music came easy for me. I don’t remember having to struggle as much as others around me. But as I became older, I did develop a bit of a desire to perfect whatever I played and interpreted.
Who had the most effect on your spirituality?
My father. He has always had a deep commitment to the Lord and for sharing the gospel (he was a pastor until he retired a few years ago). I’ve always seen him live what he believed and preached.
Jaime, you were once quoted as saying, “As I look back on my life thus far, I can see that the most difficult, lowest points came when I was farthest from Jesus, but He never gave up on me.” What do you do today to nourish your relationship with God?
The only way to continue to grow in a relationship with God is to spend time in study and prayer. The only way I can be a well of encouragement and even instruction is by replenishing that well with Jesus on a daily basis. That is what I strive to do in my personal relationship with the Lord. I’m not always consistent and successful at it. But it’s the only way to be able to give to others.
You were able to study with two of the world’s greatest violinists. What other elements have influenced your music?
My mother, Paul and Stephen Tucker (my arrangers and producers), and other well-known artists (both classical and religious) such as Itzhak Perlman, David Oistrakh, Yo-Yo Ma, Placido Domingo, Herbert von Karajan, Oscar Peterson, Van Cliburn, Quincy Jones, David Foster, and Larnelle Harris. Those are just some. I also love composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, and Tchaikovsky. All of these artists pushed themselves to attain the highest possible standard in what they did. It’s what I strive to do also. And, I especially admire those that have decided to forego worldly fanfare and recognition for a life of sharing their talents for God’s glory.
Despite your obvious talent and interest in music, you originally took up medicine. Was it hard to give up your dream of becoming a doctor? Are you glad now that you chose music over medicine? When was it you felt God’s call to full-time ministry?
I never wanted to be a musician. I understood well the life of sacrifice and uncertainty that being a musician, especially a Christian musician, was like. I had funded some of my recordings and put myself through college and part of medical school by performing. But sometime after my first year at the University of Illinois School of Medicine, I felt the Lord was trying to get my attention. So I began to pray, without really wanting to hear what the Lord had to say. Finally, after eight months of praying (and being scared), I asked the Lord to give me a sign. The sign came, and I asked for a second one. That one came, too, and at that point I decided that I should do what the Lord wanted. That was in 1996. It was not hard to give up my dream of being a doctor because I really wanted to do the Lord’s will. I thought medicine was where the Lord wanted me. So when I knew for certain, I was at total peace with it. I’ve never looked back, regretted it, or had second thoughts about it.
You have recorded several albums to date and produced two videos. Through all these projects, you have had numerous challenges, yet God has always provided. What advice would you pass onto young aspiring musicians considering recording their first album?
We’ve now recorded 10 albums since 1987. They began very humbly, simply, and inexpensively. The best advice that I can pass on to someone aspiring to record an album? Well, first, choose the compositions you feel that the Lord wants you to put on your album (by praying about it first). Second, choose melodies that people recognize and relate to. So many artists load up on original music, but because people don’t know the artist, it’s harder to convince them to pick up an album of unknown music. Third, commit yourself to recording the best possible album that you can record. Don’t compromise on the quality of the delivery and performance. Set the highest standard, and don’t stop until you reach it.
Nicole Batten is the publicity director at Pacific Press Publishing Association in Nampa, Idaho. Jaime Jorge’s address is 9536 Mountain Lake Dr.; Ooltewah, Tennessee 37363; U.S.A. To learn more about Jaime Jorge, read his autobiography, No More Broken Strings, (Pacific Press, 2002). His book and his albums are available online at http://www.AdventistBookCenter.com.