Dorris Dai Janssen
Dorris Dai Janssen began studying the violin at age 3 and performed in her first orchestra when she was 7. She received her Bachelor of Music in violin performance at the University of Houston and a Master of Music at the University of Minnesota. While living in Minneapolis, Janssen played regularly with the Minnesota Orchestra, with whom she toured the United States, including Carnegie Hall. Her most influential teachers include William Pu, Fredell Lack, Michael Steinberg and Jorja Fleezanis. Janssen made Kansas City home in 2000, when she won a position in the first violin section. Since then, she also has held the position of Acting Assistant Concertmaster for six years and has performed numerous solos with the Kansas City Symphony. Janssen feels extremely fortunate to be able to share music in Kansas City by playing on stage, reaching out on the Mobile Music Box, demonstrating for children in classrooms, and teaching privately. Her summers belong to Wyoming where she has gone each year since 2001 to be part of the Grand Teton Music Festival. Janssen lives in Olathe, Kansas, with her husband, two sons and a dog.
My greatest accomplishment is, and continues to be, the pursuit of balance between a high level of performance and happy family life. Changing gears back and forth and finding quality time for each passion has really taught me how to stay focused in the present moment. Finding joy in each moment, wherever I am, is my goal for now and forever.
New Haven, Connecticut
My first musical memory is from my first recital when I was 3 years old. I walked up a long aisle past rows of nervous parents and children to the stage with my violin, to wave excitedly and yell loudly to my parents, “Hi Mom! Hi Dad!” Although I don’t remember the actual violin playing, I like to remember how everyone was quick to laugh and cheer.
I take my family to Grand Teton National Park to hike, kayak, skip rocks, and participate in the Grand Teton Music Festival. We feel refreshed with the crisp mountain air and incredible outdoor beauty while I renew my love of making music with amazing musicians from around the world (including a few from Kansas City). We stay as long as possible!
I didn’t realize how much I wanted to be a musician until I stopped playing! My parents started violin lessons for me when I was three and wanted me to stay with it through high school. I remember it was difficult to keep up the regular practicing required to keep progressing and I had notions of quitting. After high school, I was relieved to let go of the disciplinary demands of the violin. I went to the University of Texas to study Chemical Engineering, but it didn’t take long for me to miss the music world. My violin called me back! It was an intensely emotional time when I changed my major, transferred schools, and decided to find out what future lay ahead with my violin.
The best part about being a musician in the Kansas City Symphony is being with the people in this area. The musicians, staff, volunteers, and audiences are among the warmest and most generous around the world. In Helzberg Hall, I can see and hear so well that I react to the audience as much as the audience reacts to the music. I love this close proximity and the feeling of sharing a fleeting moment together with everyone in the hall.
“There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Nelson Mandela
Performing music is a special occasion and I love all the intense feelings that come with this hard work. In the focused concentration of playing my violin, I can get “in the zone” where small problems fall away and I am only aware of being part of a higher goal. Translating the written sheet music through my instrument is a never-ending challenge where I explore expressing a wide range of emotions as best as I can. Some of the feelings I experience as I play my part in the orchestra include camaraderie, fun, contentment, and peace.