Writing for voices has always been the main strand of Janet’s composing. Reflecting her conducting work with a huge a variety of singers and players from adult and professional to primary school, her composing output is varied. Works range from a capella miniatures, demanding contemporary chamber choir repertoire, light arrangements and jazz inflected pieces, simple children’s songs, pieces suited to community choirs, choral cycles, upper voice music, and music with accompaniments for organ, piano, harp or orchestra, including a number of substantial works. Her output in recent years has been considerable and has included successes in various composing competitions and calls for works.
Janet’s first large-scale composition, written in 2002, was a setting for choir, orchestra and soloists of Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Sea Tongue telling the story of the disappearing coastline at Dunwich. Then, having collaborated with writer Nick Warburton on a children’s musical Orpheus for BBC School Radio back in 1995, Janet set three more of Nick’s specially written libretti as larger choral works. The first two were for adult choir, children’s choir and small instrumental group with narrator or soloist: Train in the Rain (2005) and On the Breath of the Sky (2007), a cantata about the plight of the albatross for Wingbeats, a partnership project between RSPB and SWCS. Janet collaborated with Nick again in 2012 on MAZE, a community work written for combined choirs and Britten Sinfonia for a Music Nation concert which was part of the Cultural Olympiad in 2012.
In that same year, Magnificat cum Angelis for choir, orchestra and soprano soloist was commissioned by Yellow Car Charitable Trust and premièred by Granta Chorale.
2016 saw two further choral and orchestral commissions come to fruition. Written for the Thaxted Festival, The Ceaseless Round of Circling Planets exploits extended choral techniques and features a prominent part for solo waterphone. I Sing and Ever Shall was commissioned by Southampton Philharmonic Choir and David Gibson and premièred by them in the O2 Southampton. Janet conducted the second performance in March 2018 with Saffron Walden Choral Society and Chameleon Arts Orchestra in Saffron Hall.
A growing number of groups are performing Janet’s music, including I Fagiolini and Gloucester Cathedral Choir (who have both sung her pieces live on BBC Radio 3), the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (Ben Parry and Greg Beardsell), the National Youth Choir of Wales (Neil Ferris), Farnham Youth Choir (Joanna Tomlinson), University of London Chamber Choir and Imperial College Choir (Colin Durrant), and the Eton Choral Course.
Commissions in 2017 included And Then We Knew Peace and A Poison Tree for Farnham Youth Choir (Joanna Tomlinson), Songs and Visions of Joys for Psallite Women’s Choir (Nancy Hadden) and Gather the Good Days, a choral cycle of five songs written in memory of Barbara Tealby as a companion piece to Janet’s Time Becomes a Song (written back in 2009 in memory of Alfred Tealby). Current commissions include music for ORA (Suzi Digby) and for NYCGB Training Choir with percussionists O Duo.