Guest Artists

2023 – 2024 Guest Artists


Canadian violinist Joan Barrett has a wealth of experience as performer, teacher, adjudicator and coach. Her performing experience includes chamber music, solo recitals and performances with orchestra in addition to serving as Principal, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Assistant Concert Master, Stratford Festival Orchestra, and member of Kensington Sinfonia.

Prior to leaving Calgary for Toronto, Joan Barrett was deeply involved in the founding of the Academy program at MRU’s Conservatory where she taught violin, chamber music and conducted one of the orchestras. A recipient of Mount Royal University’s Distinguished Teaching Award, her students have been competition winners at the national level and are active professionally.

Raised in Ontario and furthering her education at Indiana University, Joan Barrett is grateful to have been taught and mentored by outstanding teachers and musicians such as Josef Gingold, David Zafer, Paul Rolland, Ivan Galamian and Ruggiero Ricci. Subsequently she has been influenced by the work of Moshe Feldenkrais, M.F. Alexander, Carol Ann Erickson and Andover Educators (Bodymapping.)

A passionate educator, Ms. Barrett has taught at the University of Calgary, University of Toronto, The Royal Conservatory of Music, as well as being the first String Co-ordinator of its Young Artists Performance Academy. In 2012 she was the Artistic Consultant in the creation of nine recordings to accompany The Royal Conservatory’s new Violin Series publications.

An accredited professional coach (OISE/Adler), Joan Barrett also has a successful coaching practice working with leaders, professionals in the arts and students to address challenges with performing, and career and life transitions. She currently teaches and coaches privately, and creates professional development for interested teachers and performers. Ms. Barrett is most pleased to be returning to work at Amici with its enthusiastic students and dedicated teachers.

CLARE BRADFORD violoncello

Praised for her “beauty of tone and musical line” (South Florida Classical Review), cellist Clare Bradford enjoys a career as an orchestral player and chamber musician. In previous years she has played with the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, Lakes Area Music Festival and has had a long-standing collaboration with the Classical Music Institute (CMI) of San Antonio where she is a teacher and guest artist. She is also a recent alumna of the New World Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

Ms. Bradford has always had a particular love for works by living composers which has led her to collaborate closely in chamber music settings with some of the most recognized composers of our time such as Marcos Balter, Missy Mazzoli, Caroline Shaw and Joan Tower. She was also a guest at the 2021 Ojai Music Festival which was led by John Adams. Clare has performed 21st century cello concertos, such as Tan Dun’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon concerto with the New World Symphony and Dobrinka Tabakova’s Cello Concerto with the CMI Chamber Orchestra.

Clare completed her conservatory training with a Bachelor degree at New England Conservatory and a Masters degree at the Juilliard School. She is currently a member of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.


Diana Cohen has a multifaceted career as a concertmaster, chamber musician, and soloist. She is the Concertmaster of the Calgary Philharmonic and Founder and Artistic Director of the acclaimed music festival ChamberFest Cleveland. Last July, Diana and her husband, pianist Roman Rabinovich launched ChamberFest West (, an annual international summer chamber music festival bringing the most exciting musicians from around the globe to Calgary. Cohen has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras, has performed at some of the most prestigious festivals, and collaborated with renowned artists, including Garrick Ohlsson, Mitsuko Uchida, Jonathan Biss, and members of the Juilliard, Dover, Miro, and Parker string quartets. Cohen has toured and recorded with the Grammy Award-winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and performed with the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and New York Philharmonic. A Cleveland Institute of Music graduate, she studied with Donald Weilerstein and received the Jerome Gross Prize. In 2022, Diana received the prestigious Alumni Achievement Award from the Cleveland Institute of Music. Cohen’s father, Franklin, was longtime Principal Clarinet of the Cleveland Orchestra, and her brother Alexander is Principal Timpani for the Calgary Phil. Her late mother, Lynette Diers Cohen, was an esteemed bassoonist. Cohen lives in Calgary with her husband and her three-year-old, Noa Lynette, who sings and dances all day long.

JANET KUSCHAK violoncello

Cellist Janet Kuschak, an accomplished orchestral and chamber musician, has been a tenured member of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, the National Ballet of Canada Orchestra and was a founding member of Toronto’s Esprit Orchestra. She has performed in the cello sections of some of Canada’s most distinguished orchestras including the National Arts Centre Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, Hamilton Philharmonic, Te Deum in Hamilton, Kensington Sinfonia, and was invited as guest principal with the Saskatoon Symphony. Ms. Kuschak also frequently performs on baroque cello, an added skill that has led her to collaborate with various early music groups such as Spiritus Chamber Choir, Early Music Voices, Rosa Barocca and Early Music Alberta. Rosa Barocca’s recording ” Early Italian Cello Concertos” won Best Classical Album (small ensemble) at the 2023 Juno awards. She currently holds the position of principal cellist of the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra.

Ms. Kuschak has in the past taught at the Toronto Waldorf School and, with Suzuki certification, the Calgary Talent Education Society. Ms. Kuschak has her own teaching studio in Red Deer. Her students enjoy performing solo recitals and cello ensembles. She is a sought-after adjudicator and clinician, having been invited to adjudicate at the Hong Kong Schools Music Festival on three occasions and nationally with her last posts in Ottawa and Calgary. Born in Toronto, Ms. Kuschak began cello studies at the age of 11. She is the recipient of a Bachelor of Music in Performance from the University of Toronto, where she studied with Vladimir Orloff (former principal of the Vienna Philharmonic) and Daniel Domb (former principal of the Toronto Symphony), and at the Banff School of Fine Arts with Janos Starker, Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi and Aldo Parisot.


German violinist Axel Strauss, equally passionate about teaching and performing, joined the faculty of the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in 2012. Prior to moving to Montreal he served as Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Axel Strauss won the international Naumburg Violin Award in New York in 1998. Later that same year he made his American debut at the Library of Congress in Washington DC and his New York debut at Alice Tully Hall. Since then he has given recitals in major US cities, including Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles and San Francisco. In 2007 he was the violinist in the world premiere of “Two Awakenings and a Double Lullaby” – written for him by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Aaron Jay Kernis.

Mr. Strauss has performed as soloist with orchestras in Budapest, Hamburg, New York, Seoul, Shanghai, Bucharest, San Francisco and Cincinnati, among others. He has collaborated with conductors such as Maxim Shostakovitch, Rico Saccani, Joseph Silverstein, and Alasdair Neale. Mr. Strauss has also served as guest concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic as well as the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

His recordings include the Brahms violin concerto (BPOlive), Mendelssohn’s “Songs without Words”, the 24 Caprices by Pierre Rode, the last three violin concertos by Rodolphe Kreutzer and the complete works for violin and piano by George Enescu (Naxos). Amadeus Press has issued a DVD featuring Axel Strauss in concert at Steinway Hall in New York City.

Mr. Strauss frequently performs at various music festivals in the US. Festival visits abroad have taken him to Germany, India, Korea and Japan. His chamber music partners have included Menahem Pressler, Kim Kashkashian, Joel Krosnick, Robert Mann and Bernhard Greenhouse.

Since his European debut in Hamburg in 1988, Axel Strauss has been heard on concert stages throughout Europe. He has given concerts in Moscow, Vilnius, Berlin, Bremen, Leipzig and Nuremberg. Concert tours have taken him to Armenia, Azerbaijan and Romania. He has also toured South America and performed in Japan with the Philharmonic Violins Berlin.

At the age of seventeen he won the silver medal at the Enescu Competition in Romania and has been recognized with many other awards, including top prizes in the Bach, Wieniawski and Kocian competitions. Mr. Strauss studied at the Music Academies of Lübeck and Rostock with Petru Munteanu. In 1996 he began working with the late Dorothy DeLay at The Juilliard School and became her teaching assistant in 1998.  He has also worked with such artists as Itzhak Perlman, Felix Galimir, and Ruggiero Ricci, and at the Marlboro Music Festival with Richard Goode, Mitsuko Uchida and Andras Schiff.


Andrew Wan was appointed concertmaster of the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal (OSM) in 2008. As a soloist, he has performed around the world under conductors such as Rafael Payare, Kent Nagano, Maxim Vengerov, Vasily Petrenko, Bernard Labadie, Carlo Rizzi, Peter Oundjian, Xian Zhang, Michael Stern and James DePreist. Wan regularly performs as guest concertmaster with the Pittsburgh, Houston, Indianapolis, National Arts Centre, Toronto and Vancouver Symphony Orchestras.

He has performed chamber music with artists such as the Juilliard Quartet, Vadim Repin, Marc-André Hamelin, Daniil Trifonov, Menahem Pressler, Jörg Widmann, Emanuel Ax, Johannes Moser, Arabella Steinbacher, James Ehnes and Gil Shaham, and has participated in Seattle Chamber Music Festivals, La Jolla Summerfest, Ottawa Chamberfest, Toronto Summer Music, Orford Music, St Prex, Colorado College and Olympic.

His discography includes Grammy-nominated and Juno, Felix and Opus award-winning recordings on the Analekta, Onyx, Bridge and Naxos labels with the Seattle Chamber Music Society, the Metropolis Ensemble of New York, Charles Richard-Hamelin and the New Orford String Quartet. In the fall of 2015, he released a live recording of Saint-Saëns’ three violin concerti with the OSM and Kent Nagano, on the critically acclaimed Analekta label. His recent live album of works for violin and orchestra by Bernstein, Moussa and Ginastera, with Nagano and the OSM, won the 2021 Juno Award for Best Classical Recording for Large Ensemble.

Wan has a long and fruitful collaboration with Canadian pianist Charles Richard-Hamelin, silver medalist at the 17th Chopin International Piano Competition, with whom he recorded all ten Beethoven sonatas for piano and violin. Their second album of Beethoven’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th sonatas won the 2022 Juno Award for Best Classical Recording for Small Ensemble. Their next recording will include Robert Schumann’s sonatas for violin and piano, which will be released in fall 2022.

Wan holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music as well as an artist degree from the Juilliard School.

He is currently a member of the New Orford String Quartet, Associate Professor of Violin at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music, Artistic Director of the Prince Edward County Chamber Music Festival and, for the 2017-18 season, Artistic Partner of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra. In 2019, he won the Schulich School of Music Part-Time Teaching Award.

Andrew Wan is grateful to be able to play on a 1744 Michel’Angelo Bergonzi violin, generously loaned by patron David B. Sela, as well as to be able to use an 1860 Dominique Peccatte bow, on loan from Canimex.


Originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, baroque violinist Julia Wedman joined the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in 2005 and quickly developed a reputation for her solo performances. She is regularly showcased on the orchestra’s home series and on tours throughout Canada, the U.S.A., Mexico, Puerto Rico, Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea and Japan. The Globe and Mail describes her playing as “extraordinarily intuitive,” “highly communicative,” and, her personal favourite, “zesty”! As a student, she developed a passion for historically informed performance, inspired by her work at Indiana University with baroque violinist Stanley Ritchie, as well as studies at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto.

Julia is a member of the innovative baroque ensemble I FURIOSI. In addition to their successful Toronto concert series, IF has performed at music festivals in Canada, the U.S.A, Germany, England and Ireland. She is also one quarter of the Eybler Quartet, a period instrument group who specialize in excellent and underrated Classical works. Their recordings include music by their namesake Joseph Leopold Edler von Eybler, Haydn, Mozart, Backofen, Vanhal, Beethoven’s Op. 18 quartets and most recently the premier recording of Asplmayr’s Op. 2.

Over the past few years, Julia has become increasingly sought after as a teacher and coach. In addition to teaching privately, at the University of Toronto and at Tafelmusik’s Summer and Winter Institutes, she has taught classes at the Guildhall School for Music and Drama (London, England), the University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon), the University of Western Ontario (London), Queens University (Kingston), and Fredonia University (NY), the Eastman School of Music (Rochester, NY), and Penn State (State College, PA). She was also on faculty at the Banff Centre for the Arts as part of their groundbreaking new program EQ: Evolution of the String Quartet with the Eybler Quartet, Parker Quartet and JACK Quartet in 2018 and 2019.

Julia’s debut solo recording of Biber’s Mystery Sonatas (Sonoluminus) was released in the spring of 2011 and has received rave reviews. The CD was featured in Gramophone magazine, which read “Rather exceptionally, one suspects, 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.”

Recent performance highlights include guest concertmaster/solo debuts with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (London) and the Orchestra of the 18th Century (Amsterdam).

Julia has been focusing intensively on the performance of J.S. Bach’s music both in recital and as part of the exciting new Toronto Bach Festival, directed by Tafelmusik oboist John Abberger. She is also midway through a three-year cycle of Bach’s solo violin music in collaboration with the fantastically expressive dancer Brian Solomon for the Gallery Players of Niagara.

Past guest artists

Edmond Agopian, Aaron Au, Arthur Bachmann, Joan Barrett, Rune Bergmann, Nigel Boehm, Martin Bonham, Christina Bouey Christine Bootland, Margaret Carey, Cecilia Quartet, Arnold Choi, Jinjoo Cho, Danuta Ciring, Diana Cohen, Jonathan Crow, Kathleen de Caen, Kerry Dewors, Katherine Dowling, Pierre-André Doucet, Ann Elliott-Goldschmid, Escher String Quartet, Mary Findlay, Judith Fraser, Laurent Grillet-Kim, Philip Hansen, Rebecca Henry, Pamela Highbaugh Aloni, Lawrie Hill, Joanna Hood, Lafayette String Quartet, Lily String Quartet, Yuri Hooker, John Kadz, Caroline Kim, Janet Kuschak, Malcolm Lim, April Losey, John Lowry, Lysander Piano Trio, Veronique Mathieu, Thomas Megee, Violaine Melancon, David Morrissey, New Orford String Quartet, Annalee Patipatanakoon,  Rob Penner (Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra), Players Ensemble, Ben Plotnick, Nick Pulos, Katharine Rapoport, Erika Raum , Laura Reid, Rolston String Quartet, Beth Root Sandvoss, Daniel Scholz, Liza Scriggins, Donovan Seidle, Gerald Stanick, Sharon Stanis, Scott St. John, Axel Strauss, Marcin Swoboda,  Marina Thibeault, Trio Saint Laurent, John Thompson, Ton Beau String Quartet, Josué Valdepeñas, Andrew Wan, Sharon Wei, Winnipeg Chamber Music Society, Jasper Wood, The Ying Quartet, Mimi Zweig

Past guest coaches

Colleen Athparia, Joan Barrett, Dorothy Bishop, Daniel Brown, Andrea Case, Kathleen De Caen, Naomi Delafield, Marilyn Engle, Vanessa Goymour, John Lowry, Kirill Kalmykoff, Steven Lubiarz, Thomas Megee, Genevieve Micheletti, Andrea Neumann, Morag Northey, Dean O’Brien, Andrea Poon, Jeffrey Plotnick, Theresa Plotnick, Nick Pulos, Laura Reid, Nancy Russell, Anne Scott, Donovan Seidle, Barbara Smith, Stephanie Soltice-Johnston, Louise Stuppard, Marcin Swoboda, Laurie Syer, Magdi Szebenyi, Keiko Takahashi, John Thompson, Diane Valentine, Karen Youngquist