Janet Packer has established a unique career as a concert violinist and educator. Her performances demonstrate a mastery of a wide range of musical styles. As soloist with orchestra, recitalist, and recording artist, Ms. Packer's musical intelligence and personality have won the accolades of audiences and critics and the respect of musical colleagues.
An ardent champion of new music for the violin, Janet Packer has in recent years commissioned and premiered works for violin and piano by Vagn Holmboe, Edwin London, Mary Mageau, Juan Orrego-Salas, and Gardner Read; for solo violin by Andrew Imbrie; and for violin and orchestra by Vittorio Rieti and William Thomas McKinley. She is President of Pro Violino Foundation, Inc., whose mission is to support the creation and dissemination of contemporary violin music.
Ms. Packer's Centaur Records CD, featuring first recordings of works for violin and piano by Charles-Marie Widor, is receiving critical acclaim. She can also be heard as soloist in Vittorio Rieti's Serenata for Violin and Small Orchestra (1932) on CRI, in Gardner Read's Five Aphorisms for Violin and Piano (1991) on Northeastern Records, and in William Thomas McKinley's Violin Concerto No. 1 with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jerzy Swoboda on MMC.
Nationally recognized as a distinguished educator, Janet Packer is chair of the string department of the Longy School of Music, Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she has been a member of the violin faculty for twenty-six years. She gives frequent master classes at universities, music schools, and string seminars, and has been interviewed on National Public Radio and television. Her students, introduced to advanced concepts of analysis and historical style, have won competitions on state and national levels.
Janet Packer's major orchestral appearances include performances with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony of Panama, Rochester Philharmonic, and Boston Pops Orchestra. Her 2004 performance schedule took her to concert halls in eight states, including recitals in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston.
Janet Packer performs on a 1697 Carlo Giuseppe Testore violin.
NOTES ON THE MUSIC
Five Aphorisms for Violin and Piano, op. 150 (1991)
Born 2 January 1913, Evanston, Illinois
Composed on commission from Janet Packer, the Five Aphorisms were designed to be the opening work on her 1993 recital tour. In order to provide an essential contrast to the formalism and relatively conservative tonal and rhythmical structures of Franz Schubert's Fantasie, D. 934, that was to follow, these brief aphoristic interpretations are mainly pantonal as well as being rhythmically complex. They freely exploit the varied coloristic capabilities of both instruments, their style veering between the domains of expressionism and impressionism. The first performance of the Five Aphorisms took place on 26 February 1993, at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Subsequent performances were given in Milwaukee and Madiscon, Wisconsin; Nashua, New Hampshire; Boston, Carlisle, Still River, and South Yarmouth, Massachusetts; and New York City.
I. Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.
(Publilius Syros, first century B.C.): Molto vivo e feroce assai (very fast and with great ferocity) is the tempo directive to the performers. The music's unrelenting drive and notable storminess are meant to suggest the ancient Greek gods, implacable bestowal of madness on the mortals they wish to destroy.
II. Pains of love be sweeter far than all other pleasures are.
(John Dryden, 1631-1800): Moderato assai, con molto calore (in a moderate tempo, with great warmth); the mood is rhapsodic and lyrical, expressing the bittersweet emotions of love evoked by Dryden's familiar words.
III. He that plants thorns must never expect to gather roses.
(Anonymous, ca. 500 A.D.): Allegretto scherzoso (lightly and scherzo-like); this movement is a tour de force of varied violin pizzicato techniques. The strings are alternatively plucked with the player's fingertip, fingernail, and thumb, as well as being violently snapped against the instrument fingerboard. These highly percussive effects are imitated by equally spiky outbursts from the piano.
IV. All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.
(Edgar Allen Poe, 1809-1849): Lento e lontano (slowly, as from far-off) is the directive here, the music intended to reflect the dreamlike visions that fill the poet's musings.
V. Thou canst not stir a flower without troubling of a star.
(Francis Thompson, 1859-1907): Andantino, anzi flessibile (moderately slow and quite flexible). This final aphoristic interpretation attempts to mirror the philosophical thoughts of the writer as he contemplates the interaction between terrestrial flower and galactic star.
Gardner Read's website: http://home.att.net/~gardnerread