NORCA & Sistema in Norwich is one of the beneficiaries of the Janson Legacy (received in May 2019) from the Trust of Dr Michael & Mrs Varuni Janson. Varuni was born and raised in Scotland and the couple selected eight UK charities working with children to benefit from their legacy.
We are enormously grateful to the Janson's for this amazing gift and the opportunities that it affords for our work. It will be used across NORCA & Sistemain Norwich's work with children, helping us do more and do it better. In particular we will be looking at the long-term development of Sistema in Norwich:
adding 'Teen Sistema' sessions during the week
adding piano to the instruments we teach
increasing core staff support for the programme, in terms of musical director time, administration and programme management, and
supporting the core costs of the programme in the longer term.
We are grateful to their friend, Rick Tresher, for the In Memoriam statement below, and we are considering additional ways that we can memorialise the legacy.
THE JANSON LEGACY
IN MEMORIAM - MICHAEL JANSON AND VARUNI ROBERTS
Michael Janson and his wife, Varuni Roberts, were an American couple who embraced all that life had to offer. These words cannot truly do justice to their lives, their bright sunny days, their smiles and laughs and the love they once shared. But as their generosity may touch other lives, please accept this limited description of who they were.
Michael Janson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was an extremely bright and deep thinking young man who became interested in the study of philosophy and medicine at an early age. Michael attended the University of Pennsylvania where he earned a Doctor of Medicine degree. As a young pathologist, Dr. Janson developed a keen interest in holistic medicine. In 1976, he opened the first complimentary-alternative medical centre in Cambridge Massachusetts, near Harvard University. His practice was extremely successful and Michael went on to write many articles and books on alternative medicine. As his reputation grew, Dr. Janson lectured all over the world.
Varuni Roberts was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. She too was intellectually and artistically gifted. After attending university in Scotland, Varuni taught in a school for a short time. She later worked as an au pair for a wealthy French family before responding to the call of adventure. Varuni set off on a journey of discovery that took her to India where she lived and studied in an Ashram for many years. In the early 1980s, Varuni moved to Boston, Massachusetts where she met Michael. They fell in love and were inseparable for the rest of their lives. With Michael’s dark good looks and beautiful smile, and Varuni’s willowy figure and musical laugh, they were a striking couple.
Michael and Varuni were renaissance people with bright, enquiring minds who shared the love of knowledge, art and music. Dr. Janson learned to play the recorder as a young man and he became well versed in baroque, medieval and classical music. Varuni had a beautiful singing voice and loved to play the piano. They lived an idyllic life in the hills of New Hampshire where they gardened, played music, prepared vegetarian meals, became potters and travelled extensively.
In 2003, Michael sold his clinic and they moved to Florida to enjoy the warm winters. They transferred their love of art, music, gardening and potting to their new homes where they made countless friends. Each year they spent the summer in Great Britain where they enjoyed the cool weather and cultural offerings. For many years they enjoyed life to the fullest, until Varuni was stricken by ALS in 2016. She passed away in the spring of 2017 and Michael died three months later, quite literally of a broken heart. They were mourned by hundreds of friends from all over the world who cherished the memory of their friendship and shared experiences. Although Michael and Varuni were childless, they loved children and took great pleasure in attending youth recitals. Near the end of their lives, they decided to generously share their financial blessings with several children’s charities in the United Kingdom. After careful research, they determined eight charities that they felt provided the wonderful opportunities they wished to support (of which NORCA & Sistema in Norwich was one).
Michael Janson and Varuni Roberts once passed your way. Their memory will live on in perpetuity through their gifts and generosity. If you are reading this, please pause for a moment and give thanks for these two special, selfless people, who once warmly embraced life, and who left a small part of themselves for the benefit of others.