Behind the music: composers and commissions


From one of two outdoor performances of John Luther Adams' Inuksuit, June 2009. Photo: Don Lee

In 2010, The Banff Centre’s Music department commissioned innovative jazz composer Danilo Perez to write a composition for the Cecilia Quartet, winners of the 2010 Banff International String Quartet Competition. Scheduled to premiere in Toronto in 2013, Danilo will accompany the quartet on jazz piano.

Danilo’s piece is just one in a long line of original works commissioned and co-commissioned by The Banff Centre. In June this year, Banff audiences will hear a new commissioned work by jazz trumpeter and composer Dave Douglas, celebrating his tenth and final year as director of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music. Over the years, Dave has shifted the focus of this program to creating new and original music, so it makes sense that he’ll wrap things up with this new piece.

Canadian composer, Taylor Brook’s original composition Against the Morning, and Bob Becker’s score for string quartet, piano, glockenspiel, vibraphone, marimba and timpani were both commissioned and premiered at The Banff Centre in 2011. In 2010, the Common Sense Composers’ Collective, the Afiara String Quartet and the Cecilia String Quartet joined together at the Centre, collaborating on eight commissioned works.

The Gruppo Montebello project rehearses Taylor Brooks' Against the Morning, Fall 2011. Photo: Don Lee

In 2009, Omar Daniel‘s dramatic original score underpinned his work Penelope and Odysseus, created for the Penderecki String quartet and an innovative use of onstage live electronic processing, to accompany a performance from Dancetheatre David Earle.

Alaskan composer John Luther Adams‘ unique outdoor percussion piece, Inuksuit, was created as part the Roots and Rhizomes Percussion residency here in 2009, and was performed on the Centre’s outdoor grounds on the evening of the summer solstice, and then again in a remote location in Kananaskis Country. Since then, the work has travelled to New York for performances in Morningside Park, and at the Tune-In Music Festival at the Park Avenue Armory (a performance that New Yorker music critic Alex Ross called “one of the most rapturous listening experiences” of his life), and was featured as part of the Round Top Music Festival in Texas.

Composer John Adams, during a Banff Centre creative residency in 2009. Photo: Don Lee

Notably, John AdamsString Quartet co-commission (with Stanford University and the Juilliard School), created for the St. Lawrence String Quartet, has toured around the world since it’s world premiere at Julliard. The quartet performed the work’s Canadian premiere in Banff in 2009, with Adams conducting.

The Banff Centre continues to commission works from artists for a variety of projects. Coming up, bluegrass duo the Kruger Brothers will transform The Banff Centre’s Shaw Amphitheatre on August 25th this year with an original work that mixes chamber music and storytelling with a commissioned piece for strings, woodwinds, and percussion, based on the theme of the Swiss guides’ enormous impact on mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies.



About Author

Alexa is the Communications work study at The Banff Centre. She graduated from Queen's in 2011, and will be pursuing an MA in Media/Communications studies in the fall. She loves working in the arts and using her imagination, and she may (or may not) be a little obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer...

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