He has studied at Juilliard, earned Juno Award nominations for his work with New Orford Quartet and the Metropolis Ensemble and is currently the concertmaster with Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, but violinist Andrew Wan got his start in Edmonton. He, along with a roster of other classical musicians who credit their beginnings to the city, have come together for an eclectic program to raise funds for the Anne Burrows Music Foundation. Prior to the show, Wan answered some questions for Vue via email.
Vue Weekly: The concert is a gathering of musicians who credit Edmonton as a place where their musical skills were nurtured. How did the city play a role in your own music career?
Andrew Wan: Edmonton, importantly, was very much a city for many of my “firsts.” My first violin teacher (of 12 years), Yoko Oike-Wong, still lives in Edmonton. She was actually the one who brought the famed Suzuki Method to North America. My first orchestral experience was with the Edmonton Youth Orchestra, conducted by Michael Massey, and before I left for Juilliard in 2003, I studied a bit with Martin Riseley, former concertmaster of the Edmonton Symphony. I very much credit these three individuals—legendary in Edmonton and beyond—for being incredible mentors for myself and countless musicians.
VW: What drew you to Montréal following your time in Edmonton?
AW: I won the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal competition in 2007 when I was just completing my Master of Music Degree at Juilliard. They called me a few months later to ask if I would be interested in sitting guest concertmaster for the OSM for a couple of weeks. I was elated and petrified. A few months later, and after a formal audition, they hired me. I’m in the middle of my sixth season with the orchestra and it’s been a fantastic match, despite my pathetic French skills.
VW: How does Edmonton stand up in the world of classical music?
AW: Edmonton has a long history of importance in this field. It has produced, to name only a few, the likes of Angela Cheng, Jessica Linnebach, Jens Lindemann, Juliette Kang—all preeminent artists. The Winspear Centre and the Edmonton Symphony remain premiere cultural icons in the West and are incredibly well-respected all around North America. I am happy to see that organizations such as the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, the Edmonton Recital Society, and Edmonton Chamber Music Society are thriving as well.
VW: What’s in store for audiences at the show?
AW: This annual show is always an eclectic mix, even though it’s largely classical in nature. Not only does the audience get treated to performances by well-established professionals, it gets to experience the excitement of discovering new up-and-coming talent. My performance of two movements of Beethoven’s dark and mercurial 7th Sonata with the University of Alberta’s Professor of Piano Jacques Després also happens to preview our full-length recital on January 24 at Convocation Hall.
VW: What stands out to you about up-and-coming artists from Edmonton?
AW: Edmonton will always produce strong and interesting artists. Maybe it’s because of the inordinately high ratio of fantastic educators to music students, or perhaps it’s the weather that encourages every kid stay inside to practise during the 10-month winter.
VW: The concert is also meant to honour the work of Dr Anne Burrows. How has she influenced you and your music?
AW: I’ll always be grateful for the incredible support I received as a student from organizations such as the Anne Burrows Foundation, the Winspear Fund, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Lieutenant Governor Emerging Artist award. Anne Burrows’ dream was to help us get through our schooling without worrying about debilitating student debt, and as a result, I was able to fully focus on my craft. She was an absolute gem.