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February 24, 2012

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Dutch violinist tugs at heart strings

BORN into a musical family in Holland, 34-year-old Janine Jansen (right) is a star concert violinist and founder of an intimate chamber music festival for family and international friends in Utrecht.

She is known for her emotional interpretations and in a recent Shanghai concert she cooperated with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam in Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor. In an interview with Shanghai Daily, she called it "such a perfect concerto. It is fresh and pure, very communicative. With orchestra, there are so many dialogues going on. It is really chamber music in this way."

She first performed the piece when she was 15. "I always keep the same clear general view of the piece, but when cooperating with different orchestras and conductors, new things, new ideas and new inspirations always happen," she said.

Jansen has received numerous awards, including the Dutch Music Prize in 2003, and the distinguished Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist Award in Britain in 2009. She cooperates with various orchestras.

Q: How did your musical family influence you?

A: There was always music in the house. Before I could even read, I would be singing in the chorus conducted by my father, standing next to my mom, and following what she was doing. When I was six years old, I really wanted to learn an instrument. I had played a little piano but didn't have lessons. I actually wanted to play the cello first. But my brother was already playing the cello and my parents wanted a bit more variety of instruments in the family.

They didn't say you have to play the violin. They took me to a concert where kids my age played the violin and asked me how I like that. I immediately said yes, I want to do that. I wanted to wear that nice-looking dress - which was very important for girls at that age.

Q: Do you have other hobbies?

A: As a teenager I liked playing football with the boys. Now I like reading and watching old movies. Now it's very important to spend time in nature. I travel to big cities like Shanghai and Beijing and feel I'm always on the road, so I love going back to the quiet outdoors and hiking in the mountains. It's not just about relaxing, it's about recharging - I get so much energy from nature.

Q: Please describe your family music festival.

A: It's a festival between Christmas and New Year's in my hometown Utrecht. This year is the 10th year. It is not only for family members but also for many good friends and colleagues from all over the world. They are the people I feel close to and love making music with.

Q: What are your plans for next year?

A: I have many plans. It may sound weird to know exactly where you will be at a specific time, but it's also exciting. Next year I will record two of my favorite chamber music works with good friends, prepare my 10th music festival and perform in South Africa with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. I have never been to South Africa and it must be very exciting.


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