Dutch musicians Ab Baars and Ig Henneman have been visiting the Banff Centre since 2005, when Ig performed on a tour of Canada with the Queen Mab Trio. Since then, they’ve returned many times to the Leighton Colony to write music, far from their bustling home base in Amsterdam. They were recently in residence again to prepare for a forthcoming Canadian tour with The Ig Henneman Sextet.
Ab plays tenor sax and clarinet, as well as the shakuhatchi, a Japanese flute that replaced the sword for many uprooted Samurai joining the komuso Zen brotherhood in 16th century Japan. This piece of end-blown bamboo can produce a huge range of pitches, intonations, and colouring. Legendarily, the monks would play while wandering, with the possibility of achieving enlightenment through the perfect sound. Ab spends many of his mornings on Tunnel Mountain playing shakuhatchi to the wilderness.
In a separate but nearby studio in the woods, Ig composes. For “Bow Valley Whistle” she wrote a score for sampler using sounds recorded in Banff – the clack of pool balls at the Centre’s old pub, the howl of the freight train echoing in the mountains, and the warbling birds that serenade the summer occupants of the Leighton Colony. She builds a deliberate dynamism into her compositions, while leaving space for the group to stretch, infusing performances with a spontaneous vitality.
Hear a preview from next week’s Weekly Podcast - a selection of Ab and Ig’s music, and their own words on creative process and inspiration.