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.”

Speaking as director of the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, Kingston, we were lucky that our programming, for the most part, fit into the September – April university school year timeframe. Nevertheless, the COVID-19 cancellation involved five concerts and one film screening and it was heartbreaking to cancel these.

As to the question of following through on cancelled concerts, we have paid the artists and provided refunds for tickets to those who wanted them, as our 2020/21 season was already programmed. We had set aside savings from previous seasons that has enabled us to deal with COVID-19 related financial issues. (We had also done this at Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra when I was managing director there, to enable the organization to keep on steady ground with a buffer in funds set aside for future opportunities and challenges, whatever they may be.)

 COVID-19 measures are necessary for our society’s physical health, but they are hitting arts organizations so hard. I am glad that the governments are helping the sector. After all, the arts and cultural industries are a $54 billion industry and major employer/engager in Canada.

The silver lining is that our technological expertise is skyrocketing, and more importantly, I believe the focus on core priorities and valuing the artists and audience as the arts’ core stakeholders can lead to healthy developments in the sector. Baumol’s cost disease (costs rising faster than revenues) was already causing substantial structural issues.  COVID-19 has brought forward the tipping point, hastening the creation of  new structures to support the creation and production of the arts in a different way than has been the case through the latter half of the 20th century to now. Strong developments and innovation arise in hard times as we focus on what matters, and there will always be a great sense of purpose and urgency in making music that will propel us forward. 

As an example, we delayed our Bader and Overton Canadian Cello Competition and have converted it online. It’s currently planned for June 24-27, 2020, but we are waiting to hear about potential conflicts with the semi-finalists’ schedules. All semi-final and final performances will be webcast on CBC. After much testing, we will be using OBN streaming software with VIMEO ingest. We have purchased an excellent stereo microphone kit for each competitor to ensure the full high fidelity sound at the source including a WARM stereo microphone kit and FOCUSRITE USB interface and microphone stands. Jury members will be receiving high fidelity Sennheisser headphones.   Our own technical director has 20 years of extensive recording experience, and for this, we are very grateful (as we are for the support of Bader Philanthropies and CBC throughout the metamorphosis of the competition). 

We are also in the process of creating a digital concert hall for high quality performance films and high-fidelity streaming, and an online summer festival with local musicians. The musicians will be paid, and will go away with a high definition film/audio with which to promote themselves.

To stay in touch, watch our website as announcements come up at www.queensu.ca/theisabel,  and email us at The Isabel box office (IBCPAboxoffice@queensu.ca). We will also be posting on facebook facebook.com/queensuisabel.

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