Concert in the 21st Century - Residency

13th Feb - 3rd March 2017 at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativty

What is the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity?

Established in 1933 The Banff Centre is nestled into the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada and was originally intended only for actors and theatre groups during the summer months. The Centre now accommodates visual artists, sound engineers, writers, musicians, photographers, dancers, mathematicians and play-wrights from all around the world all year round. The Banff Centre offers space, mentors and resources for artists to develop work; from designing choreography and working on plays and novels, to writing, rehearsing and recording music.  

What is our residency project within the 'Concert in the 21st Century' residency?

Composer Jared Yapp and I are developing an immersive performance featuring existing and commissioned repertoire, poetry and sound installations. The performance draws on elements of the Climate Change discussion from both the scientific and sociological viewpoints with an aim to encourage communication regarding methods of mitigation and change. The project saw its first incarnation in 2016 in my final solo recital at the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM). For this residency, we will be looking at the concert experience in the 21st century in a more general sense and using those discussions to develop the recital into a through-composed concert experience using staging, lighting and curation. We are very excited to be including the Penny String Quartet in the collaboration when we return to perform the piece in Melbourne on May 17th 2017. (More details to come)

 
 
 View from the dining hall at the Banff Centre. It is as if the mountains put on a different concert every night.

View from the dining hall at the Banff Centre. It is as if the mountains put on a different concert every night.

Residency Update #1

Today marks the middle of ‘Concert in the 21st Century’ at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Composer and violist Jared Yapp and I have spent 11 incredible days surrounded by 17 other musicians from around the world. We have been working with visiting faculty, developing our own projects, setting up new collaborations with each other and discovering the beautiful surrounds of Banff.

Pedja Mužijević New York based pianist and concert curator, is the founder and artistic director of this residency program. His vision is to bring musicians together to explore new ways of presenting classical and contemporary music to audiences in the 21st century through the use of curation, staging, lighting and other technology. Over the course of three weeks we will meet with different visiting faculty members, have the chance to develop our own creative pieces, present public and ‘in house’ performances and collaborate with each other. Pedja, who fondly refers to himself as 'mother' during the residency, has a keen eye for concert curation and insightful arguments for how to bring our art form into the 21st century. His regular meetings with all of us keep our ideas developing and on track.

 Reading Goliov's Tenebrae in Pedja's studio

Reading Goliov's Tenebrae in Pedja's studio

Our first guest faculty member was Daniel Pettrow, an actor, writer and director from New York. His workshops with us pushed our perceptions of stage presence and performance techniques. We explored ways to heighten our awareness in the moment and bring spontaneity and physicality into our performances. Personal meetings with Daniel have inspired me to further explore stage hair and makeup on a new level as an equal element of performance in some works.

Our next guest artist Geoff Nuttall first violinist from the St. Laurence String Quartet brought his passion for chamber music, inspiring many late night reading sessions including the Haydn String quartets and Goliov’s Tenebrae. Geoff’s personal connection with composer Mark Applebaum was particularly interesting for me as I have worked on so much of Mark’s work. Geoff and Pedja performed together on his last night here. The two friends played a number of Mozart works alongside Berio’s Sequenza for Voice performed by Ally Smithers, (one of the participants in the residency).

Jenny Bilfield, President and CEO of the Washington Performing Arts spent the next 5 days with us. Her career advice and bold approach to artistic vision and goal management was very inspiring. Jenny is also a friend of Mark Applebaum’s and was a member of the consortium that commissioned his work Aphasia! Small world!

 Performers from Open Studio #1 - Fri Feb 24th 2017.

Performers from Open Studio #1 - Fri Feb 24th 2017.

For our first public concert, Pedja hand-picked a number of us to perform in a carefully curated mosaic of styles, instrumentation and genre. Nestled amongst Debussy’s Chansons, Brian Cherney’s piano works, and Brahms Intermezzi for piano I performed an improvisation for water and prayer bowls as well as excerpts from Kurt Schwitter’s Ursonate. It was very exciting to try out some new hair and makeup ideas, experiment with lighting design specialist Chris DePape and to share what we’d all been working on with a public audience.

 Jared taking a photo of some tourists at the top of Sulphur Mountain. It was so cold up there that our hair was freezing. in the valley you can just see the Banff Centre nestled into Buffalo Mountain.

Jared taking a photo of some tourists at the top of Sulphur Mountain. It was so cold up there that our hair was freezing. in the valley you can just see the Banff Centre nestled into Buffalo Mountain.

As well as practice and project development, we have had plenty of time to explore the incredible surrounds of the Banff Centre. A trip to the beautiful frozen Lake Louise was topped off with a delicious tradition that involves roasting an apple in the fire and covering it with brown sugar and cinnamon that then caramelizes when re-roasted.

I have slipped down plenty of icy slopes on the way up and down mountains here but it has always been worth it for the breathtaking views. Before this trip I had never seen snow, so I have had an incredible time watching tiny snowflakes silently falling and engaging Jared in as many snowball fights as possible (we have a lot of lost time to make up for!).

 

What's Next?

Coming up next week we have our second participant concert, as well as visiting faculty cellist Adrian Fung and conductor Alan Pierson. I am excited to be work-shopping my revised piece Sounds of the Reef with Adrian. Many smaller performances will see the culmination of lots of the projects we have been working on. Thing will be getting busy but exciting! More news to follow, so stay in touch with photo updates by following the hashtag #adlibgoestobanff on Facebook and Instagram.

 Working on a new composition by Simone Baron (pictured with accordion). Everyone here is very generous with their time when composers want to test out new works. 

Working on a new composition by Simone Baron (pictured with accordion). Everyone here is very generous with their time when composers want to test out new works. 

 Elk at the Banff Centre

Elk at the Banff Centre

 Us at the Fairmont Hotel - Lake Louise

Us at the Fairmont Hotel - Lake Louise