theWholeNote by Julia Wedman (May 2020)
I am a baroque violinist, a member of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, Eybler Quartet, and I FURIOSI Baroque Ensemble. I play regularly with the Toronto Bach Festival, Theater of Early Music, L’Harmonie des Saisons, and occasionally I fly over to Europe for performances with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (London) and the Orchestra of the 18th Century (Amsterdam). I teach baroque violin at the University of Toronto, at Tafelmusik’s Summer Institute and at the Banff Centre for the Arts (for the Evolution: Quartet program).
Since COVID-19 hit, I have had to let go of all of my concerts and recordings thus far until August. That includes 2 St. John Passions (one with L’Harmonie des Saisons in Montreal, one with Tafelmusik), a St. Matthew Passion (Kalamazoo Symphony), a Bach program and a Handel program with Tafelmusik including a new Handel recording, performances at the Toronto Bach Festival in May, a chamber music program in Montreal with some colleagues and students, a few Eybler quartet concerts as well as recording a new Haydn CD, teaching at Tafelmusik’s Summer institute and at the Banff Centre in July….and more to come…
All of the groups are planning on some kind of postponement of projects, but time will tell what kind of format they will take. I think probably my work with smaller groups will resume more quickly than others, but also we may start doing things like streaming concerts, planning smaller concerts, prioritizing recording, etc. For some projects we are doing things online instead of in person (like the recent Aspylmayr online CD launch).
Right now it is a lot of planning, re-thinking, strategizing, learning new skills, and creating projects that will support the changing world of what it means to be a musician. I have been working on a new website. Almost everyone has been making videos - I have done a few for Tafelmusik and L’Harmonie de Saisons, Eybler Quartet is in the process of making videos to support our newly released Aspylmayr recording, and I FURIOSI is in the process of releasing some tracks from live recordings that we have made over the last 20 years. Having a break from the rigorous world of live performance is a welcome opportunity to reconnect with people, catch up on things that I have been “meaning to do”, and gives me some space (during panic breaks!) to think and create. I would say that I am also being buoyed and inspired by my incredibly talented, creative and imaginative colleagues all around the world. It is definitely a time like this that I am exceedingly grateful for online platforms keeping us connected.
As for how best people reading this can stay in touch … my new website!!! www.juliawedman.com. I have been working on this with one of my brilliant students and I am thrilled with how it’s coming together! It is a way for people to keep up with what I have been up to, watch videos, find links to my groups, to buying recordings that will give money directly to artists, AND, what I might be the most excited about – it is a place where people have access to resources that I love! There is a baroque music learning page with links to books and scores, and there is a wellbeing section with links to books, websites, articles and more. This is a collaborative effort so please send me a comment through my contact page if you have suggestions or resources that you would like to see added!
I’ve “pinned” my response on this map to Trinity-St Paul’s Church, Tafelmusik’s home base and my favourite place to work in Toronto. I love the acoustics, I love the energy of the space with all of the different activities that happen here, and I love all of the people - both at Tafelmusik and at the church. It is my musical “happy place.”
Julie Anne Sadie - Gramophone (2011)
"Wedman has approached Biber’s music as a true pilgrim, interpreting key moments in the life of Christ thoughtfully, vividly and with evident personal humility and warmth. Her performances exude humanity and have about them a radiance that somehow transcends the sound of her lovely 1694 instrument. Among the highlights are the darkness of the B minor Sonata No 3, “The Nativity”, the anguished Lamento of No 6, “The Agony in the Garden”, the sound of dawn in No 11, “The Resurrection”, and the frenzied opening movement and Gigue of No 13, “Pentecost”. In the sublime concluding solo Passacaglia, “The Guardian Angel”, she conveys wonderment and serenity. Both Biber’s music and Wedman’s performances are inspirational."
John Terauds - Ludwig Van Toronto (2011)
"Toronto violinist Julia Wedman, a member of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra for six seasons, has pulled off an astounding feat in this two-CD set of all 15 Mystery Sonatas (also known as the Rosary Sonatas) by Baroque composer Heinrich von Biber. This music is at once beautiful, provocative and profound, guaranteeing years of listening pleasure. It would take hundreds of words to describe the powerful yet transparent." textures that Wedman and her cohorts have conjured out of Biber’s minimal musical instructions. It would take hundreds more to describe the intensely spiritual significance of each sonata, which corresponds to a section of the Rosary. And that doesn’t even touch on the weird and wonderful alternate violin tunings that most of the sonatas require. The world is a better place for Wedman’s interpretation of this remarkable music.