Published February 11, 2021 at 12:41pm.
Story by Julia Baca. Photos courtesy of Lumedia Musicworks.
Julianna Emanski, co-founder and artistic director of Lumedia Musicworks, is a lifelong musician. “I have been involved in music since I was eight years old,” shares Julianna. After beginning on piano, she found her niche in choir. “I’ve been singing in choir ever since and I used to spend six weeks every Summer at music intensives until I was eighteen.” Passionate about music, Julianna attended college to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education. In 2008, she went to the University of North Texas (UNT) to study Early Music. Julianna explains, “I really didn’t know what Early Music really was until then, but I loved it. I preferred the small, intimate ensembles to large orchestras.” After a brief time in Seattle, Julianna travelled back to Texas for a Doctorate at UNT with the goal of starting an early music ensemble. “Texas is a supportive environment for the arts with excellent musicians who are wonderful to work with.”
Noting the lack of modern expressions of early music, Julianna co-founded Lumedia Musicworks in 2017 with current ensemble musicians, Stephanie Noori and Christopher Phillpott. Lumedia Musicworks is a performing arts nonprofit with the mission of bringing Early Music to life through live performances and short films. Early Music encompasses works composed before 1750 and includes pieces by famous composers such as Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel. The name Lumedia is central to the organization’s brand. Lumedia stems from “lumen” or light. “Light means a lot of different things. It can uncover what’s hidden like Early Music. It symbolizes hopefulness, it’s uplifting, and it inspires positivity,” shares Julianna. Through online and live concerts and its short films, light and creativity are at its center.
Lumedia has a variety of programs including Spotlight concerts put together by individual musicians, short films, live performances, a virtual concert hall, and a short film contest. As such, they are uniquely accessible to audiences who prefer live performances as well as those who seek out digital performances. “Classical music needs to figure out a way to embrace the digital realm, so I wanted a group to dedicate half of its time to online media and the other half to live performance,” says Julianna. “When we first started I had friends ask if we were online or live, and I just thought, ‘why can’t we be both?’” This diverse offering relies on the collaboration of musicians, the music director, and the film director.
Lumedia’s Spotlight performances are thirty-minute concerts planned and organized by the musicians. Lumedia also offers two live performances a year that provide special, intimate concert experiences. On the digital side, they produce short films that involve musicians collaborating with Julianna to find meaningful music and tell a story. The process for these films is expressive and unique to the musicians who help put them together. Julianna explains, “one of my musicians might bring a piece to me and describe how it inspires them, and we’ll work together to bring the project to life.” With all the programs they offer, Lumedia is extremely accessible to many people. “We’re able to make Classical Music more approachable because we’re presenting it live, but also in ways people might not think of with the short films.” Lumedia’s programming and concerts are designed to be uplifting. They offer creatives a space to inspire audiences and create works that inspire others.
The latest program Lumedia is looking forward to kicking off is their Early Music Film Competition (EMFC). In its second year, EMFC is a way to empower creativity in the community. The competition is for all ages, all geographic locations, and all backgrounds. There is no application fee and many people submit films they videoed using their phones. Applicants must highlight one of two pieces of music, listed on Lumedia’s website, and the first place winner receives $750. “The main voice of the film has to be the music, but we want people to be bold and creative with what they submit,” remarks Julianna. Applications are due in May of this year. Find more information about the EMFC here.
Like many other performing arts organizations, the pandemic forced Lumedia to adjust its programming to better reach its audiences. “Luckily, we were already primed for the digital space, but we still had to move all our concerts online and reinvent our ticketing,” says Julianna. “We just have to keep going and keep shifting.” The biggest challenges have been maintaining safe environments for musicians and finding a new way to sell tickets to performances. To maintain health and safety, Lumedia develops projects with smaller groups of musicians and plans recordings and rehearsals around when musicians can get tested. “With ticket sales, the hard part is pricing. It’s hard to predict what people will want to pay for performances in this environment,” shares Julianna. As a result, they created tickets at various price levels that create access for anyone who wishes to attend. There are free student tickets, general admission tickets, discounted tickets for new comers, and a “donor ticket” option for those who can contribute a little more. Amazingly, Lumedia had its best year in 2020 for both attendance and donations and is looking forward to continuing growth. Lumedia is grateful for the support they’ve received from TACA, Frisco Arts, and the many individuals who’ve contributed to their mission. If you’d like to support Lumedia Musicworks by making a donation, serving as a volunteer, or attending a concert, visit lumediamusicworks.com.