Janet (Schlein) Somers is a native Californian and product of California schools with a BA in flute performance from San Francisco State University, where she studied with Herbert Benkman and Paul Renzi, and Master of Library Science from the University of California at Berkeley. Upon receiving her MLS she became music cataloger at Cornell University and was priivileged to become principal flutist and a soloist of the Cornell University Orchestra under the Pulitzer Prize winning composer Karel Husa. During that time she also attended Jean Pierre Rampal’s summer flute class in Nice, France. After her marriage to Paul Mack Somers she became music cataloger at The Juilliard School and was accepted as a private student by Julius Baker. Giving private flute lessons and playing fife in the Senior Corps of the Morris County Militia were some of her activities.
The birth of their son Luke made commuting to New York difficult and time-consuming, so she accepted a position at the Westfield Memorial Library in their hometown of Westfield, NJ. While there she continued teaching flute and performing with Paul in the Lafayette Trio and became a freelance performer in northern New Jersey.
Several years later she became the Luce Cataloger at the Westminster Choir College of Rider University. Having discovered a number of unpublished works for flute by Robert Russell Bennett in the Deering Music Library at Northwestern University, she took several graduate classes with a goal of notating and eventually publishing them. This goal was furthered by earning a master’s degree in flute performance from Montclair State University where she studied flute with Susan Palma-Nidel of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra.
In preparation for her first graduate recital she edited several compositions by Robert Russell Bennett, including his Six Souvenirs for Two Flutes and One Piano and A Dry Weather Legend. For her second recital she programmed works by New Jersey composers, including Louis Scarmolin, Randall Svane, John Sichel, a work written for her by Koren Cowgill and, of course, one by Paul Mack Somers entitled New Jersey Camp Meeting: a Bloomfield Sabbath, which incorporates famous 19th century hymn tunes by William Batchelder Bradbury, who lived in Montclair, NJ.
Currently Paul and Janet live on property along the Maurice River in southern New Jersey about six miles from Delaware Bay. Four or five times per year they present concerts by fellow musicians in their home in their Maurice River Music series. Janet is also the third and substitute flutist with the Bay-Atlantic Symphony and a member of the Cumberland Flutes.