Vermont Symphony Orchestra

Janet Polk

Where were you born and (if different) where did you grow up? I was born in Exeter, NH. We moved to Petersham, MA, when I was seven. My father was a soil scientist and was hired by the Harvard Forest, a part of Harvard University. After teaching public school for five years, I moved to Burlington for 2 ½ years before returning to NH, about ten miles from where I was born.

Current residence and marital status/family: I live in Durham, NH with my husband Keith, a horn player and world-renowned Renaissance music historian.

Education: Never thinking that I would become a performer (music performance chose me!), I did a Music Education degree at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. After a hiatus of nine years, I returned to the University of New Hampshire to pursue a Master’s in Music History. I am always learning.

When did you start playing with the VSO? 1975

Other current jobs besides VSO: Principal Bassoon in Portland Symphony; Resident Artist at the University of New Hampshire; Senior Lecturer in Music at Dartmouth College; Principal bassoonist of Opera North.

Favorite composer: Beethoven, with Stravinsky a very close second

Hobbies: I love to read about health, nutrition, brain function, and medical information. Reading mysteries is also a great stress relief.

How did you get started in music? My grandmother on my mother’s side was one of the first music educators to graduate from the newly-formed program at the University of Wisconsin. My grandmother insisted that all her children take two years of piano. My mother insisted that all five of her children (I am the youngest) also take two years of piano. In seventh grade I began bassoon and it was instant love!

Describe a typical day: There is no such thing! Every day is so different and that is the way I like it!

Dream job if not musician: I can’t think of anything else I would be doing other than what I do now.

Favorite vice: a lovely, warm bath

Best advice I ever got: From my bassoon teacher in high school on the matter of reeds: Learn to play on anything! This actually also applies to life, in that one needs to figure out how to deal with whatever comes one’s way.

Favorite way to spend an evening: Do people have evenings free?