Articles by Rosemary Phillips

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Jasper Wood - Canadian Violin Virtuoso

UPDATE: Jasper Wood has now established himself as one of Canada's top violinists, often heard on National Public Radio in the United States and on CBC Radio in Canada. Currently Jasper resides in Vancouver where he is professor of violin at the University of British Columbia. He performs regularly with his dynamic piano trio Triple Forte - with pianist David Jalbert and cellist Yegor Dyachkov - and Duo Rendezvous with guitarist Daniel Bolshoy. See below for a video of Jasper Wood and for links to more information.

Leading edge of new musicians

An interview article by Rosemary Phillips, 2003

Jasper Wood - Canadian violinist

ARTICLE INTRO: Jet setting violinist Jasper Wood was on his way to Florida, flying here and there across the North American continent to share his talent, when he took time from rehearsing a new piece of music to hold this interview. Jasper definitely represents the future of concert music. The following article was written for Symphonie of the Kootenays in Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada, in preparation for his Valentine's performance at the Key City Theatre.

Accompanied by pianist David Riley, Wood was paying homage to the late great violinist Jascha Heifetz. "When I was young," said Wood, "Heifetz was my influence. He found these gems and promoted them and transcribed them with such a wonderful personality that is so inspiring."

The leading edge of new musicians

A member of the leading edge of new musicians Wood is finding his own voice in the music, "… My own individual style that’s not forced, just tends to be," he said. "I find that when I’m doing that, what is currently going on in my life affects how I interpret the pieces. So I try to stay happy. I do tend to smile a lot more than I do in my photos," he laughed. "It’s important to get out there and experience as many things as possible so that you have a reason to express something."

Jasper Wood and Judy Kang, violin, perform Prokofiev's Duo for 2 violin for CBC TV.

The violin is his passion

The violin is his passion, his expression. "I don’t know how to describe it. It’s rather like falling in love with somebody. I can’t imagine not playing, not being with the violin. It’s sort of a calling, something I have to do. I feel empty when I’m not playing."

And just like lovers, there can be moments when there is dis-harmony which makes the harmony even more beautiful. For the first time in his life he and his love had a short separation. "I had a difficult Fall with a lot of concerts so things were crazy in my life," he explained. "Then I recorded the CD. When that was done I didn’t want to look at my violin. I felt burnt-out and it scared me because I had never felt that before. I put the violin (an 1820 Giovanni Francesco Presenda on loan from the Canada Council) on the shelf for about a week. Then I pulled out a piece of music that I will be performing in April. After I got through the initial hour and got my fingers going again, I felt the passion coming back."

Could it be that Wood is maturing, getting his own experience of all that love has to offer? "When discussing this with other musicians they asked how long I put the violin down. I said seven days. They said that wasn’t long. I guess I needed a vacation which is not something I do very often."

Catching the eye of the younger generation

Wood has been performing professionally for six years now. "One thing that I’ve learned is there needs to be more community outreach for those who don’t get a chance to come out to concerts, like those from seniors homes and in schools, what with the arts being cut in schools. Children hear rock music on TV. They also need to see that classical music and musicians have a life."

Wood is presently working on developing a formula for next season to offer outreach. "I’m trying to find a balance," he added.

And Wood’s image is definitely one to catch the eye of the younger generation. "Image is an important part of being a performer," he explained. "I got the idea when I did the East Coast Music Awards," he continued. "I got to play with a lot of Celtic fiddlers and East Coast rock stars. I didn’t want to come off as the typical classical violinist in a tux, so I watched the media for dress styles. I'm trying to stay away from the old image. What I wear varies with every recital - something a little catchy that’s interesting for the lights on the stage."

An inspiration for any generation

Wood is an inspiration for any generation. He’s living his dream. "Someone asked me that a year ago - about my goals. It’s funny because when I was younger I wanted to play with an orchestra. I’ve done that. I’ve done everything I’ve wanted to do. What I want to do now is continue to play in difference places, to learn new music."

And learn new music he does. When the phone rang for this interview he was so absorbed in learning a new piece that he didn’t hear it.
Make no mistake, this young man represents the cream of Canadian talent. His program on Feb. 15 will nourish all hearts. "This was standard for Heifetz," Wood explained. "The first half is classical and serious, and the second half has more show pieces."
The ears will be blessed with works by Corelli, Morawetz and Ravel, followed by Debussy, Prokofiev, Sarassate, and even a bit of Gershwin. "I get right into the pieces," he continued. "The Sabre Dance (Khabaturian) is ridiculously difficult with octaves and tenths. It stretches my technique and keeps me in shape."

Combine passion, technique, talent, dreams and hope together with the dark, rich and powerful sounds of his violin and Wood gives you the makings of a splendid Valentine's gift.

Shortly after this item was published Richard Paul Concert Artists announced that Jasper Wood had been awarded use of the $3 million Stradivarius "Taft" violin by the Canada Council for the Arts as the winner of the national competition for the loan of the violiin. This award came during the kick off of an exciting season which also included an appearance in a short film called "The Last Violinist" by Winnipeg film-maker Spenser Maybee, and in an episode of a 13-part series called "The Classical Now" by Red Star Films aired on Bravo!

For more information visit Jasper Wood's web site.

CD - Jasper Wood - Stravinsky: Works for Violin and Piano


Jasper released a CD under the Endeavour Classics label, titled "Jasper Wood - Stravinsky: Works for Violin and Piano". Check out the review of the CD.

CD cover



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