An award-winning composer, Janet writes mainly for voices. Her wide-ranging output reflects her continuing career as choral director as well as her long involvement in music education (including eight years as a Music Producer at BBC School Radio). Her music ranges from the small-scale – such as bravura a cappella pieces, lighter arrangements and choral songs with piano – through to substantial choral cycles and large-scale choral and orchestral pieces. Whatever the genre, her expressive approach to word-setting, detailed attention to musical structure and love of harmonic surprise give a characteristic twist.
Janet’s music is increasingly being performed by choirs across the UK and internationally, both amateur and professional. Her music has been heard on BBC Radio 3, sung for example by the BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Chorus, I Fagiolini and Gloucester Cathedral Choir. She has been performed in numerous cathedrals and by Oxford and Cambridge chapel choirs, national and other youth choirs, and many chamber choirs and choral societies.
2022 has seen the performances of several new works. Premièred in March at Saffron Hall, The Measure of a Tree, a large-scale piece for choir, two soloists and orchestra, explores both the complex ecology and the spiritual value of trees. Her anthem for choir and organ In Every Corner Sing was commissioned to mark the bi-centenary of St Pancras Parish Church, and premièred there during the LFCCM 2022. Janet composed Up in the Morning Early, variations on a Scots Song for Onyx Brass, after winning the first President’s Commission from JAM with her brass quintet Film Noir. She had written this the previous year following JAM’s masterclass series. Both pieces received premières at St Bride’s Church, Fleet St.
In 2021 she composed Tomorrow is Today as a commission from Papagena, setting a specially written text by Sarah Cattley. The piece includes a vocal soundscape of the Dawn Chorus built from layered birdcalls. The first performance was given in Oxford in September 2021.
Back in 2019 Janet wrote Beati Quorum Via (Homage to Stanford) for SONORO (Neil Ferris) as part of SONORO’s first Choral Inspirations series. She also composed Terra Tremuit for ORA Singers (Suzi Digby) who premièred it at LSO St Lukes. In the summer she composed settings for choir and piano of poems about Scottish islands, completing these in Edinburgh, where she was guest-conducting Cadenza at the Fringe Festival. They were performed soon afterwards on Arran.
The Cries of Music, a setting of words by Euan Tait, was commissioned as the set piece for the inaugural London International Choral Conducting Competition in 2018 and received six performances in the final. The same year Imagine it! with words by John Taylor, was commissioned for the National Youth Choir of Great Britain with percussionists O Duo. It was conducted by Greg Beardsell and produced as a video.
Psallite Women’s Choir (Nancy Haddon) commissioned the cycle Songs and Visions of Joy in 2017 for upper voice choir and soloists with flute. Janet assembled the libretto from texts by Walt Whitman, Thomas Campion and Emily Bronte together with psalm excerpts. A similarly collated libretto (including Emily Dickinson, Robert Herrick and Rabindranath Tagore) featured in I Sing and Ever Shall (2016), for choir, baritone solo and orchestra, commissioned for Southampton Philharmonic Chorus and conducted at the O2 Southampton by David Gibson. David has since given two further performances with his choirs Occam Singers and Basingstoke Choral Society and Janet conducted the work at Saffron Hall with SWCS and Chameleon Arts Orchestra.
The Ceaseless Round of Circling Planets was a commission for the Thaxted Festival in 2016. Janet recently made a piano duet version of the orchestral accompaniment (still featuring the solo waterphone part) for a performance by Enfield Choral Society (Mark Sproson). It was only recently performed by them in March 2022 after a pandemic postponement.
Two of her largest works to date are Sea Tongue (2004) – a 50 minute setting for choir, soloists and orchestra of Kevin Crossley Holland’s prose-poem about the coastal erosion at Dunwich and Magnificat cum Angelis (2012) which combines the Latin Magnificat with other angelic texts set for choir, chamber orchestra and soprano solo. Janet has also collaborated many times with writer Nick Warburton since first working with him at the BBC. She has provided incidental music for three of his plays and together they have written a number of larger works. One of these was MAZE for combined Saffron Walden choirs with Britten Sinfonia as part of the Cultural Olympiad in 2012.
Janet’s current projects include an anthem for the re-scheduled Requiem to Cancer 2022 and a setting of a cycle of texts by Kevin Crossley-Holland. She is also enjoying mentoring young composers as part of the ORA Composers’ Competition.
Click here for Janet’s conducting biography.