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Banff Musician in Residence Open Concert takes guests on musical journey

“It’s for an audience that has a voracious musical taste that’s interested in everything."
Banff Musicians in Residence Club performers Mandi Kujawa (left), and Lina Andonovska play a set at the Banff Centre. DONALD LEE BANFF CENTRE PHOTO

BANFF – Offering audiences the chance to enjoy an evening of musical exploration that spans across a galaxy of genres, the Banff Centre will host the first Banff Musician in Residence Open Concert of the new year.

The Banff Musician in Residence program serves an opportunity for musicians to participate in a five-week residency at the Banff Centre, said Kyle Brenders program manager for preforming arts. Musicians come with a project in mind and can go on a self-directed journey to see where the music takes them.

“It’s an opportunity for musicians of all genres, all styles to have space and time to explore their work," he said. “It can be anything from a composer writing new music, a pianist learning a new repertoire, somebody working with digital technology experimenting with new gear."

The projects allow musicians to experience a transformative creative adventure complemented by immersing themselves in the inspiring beauty of the Bow Valley.

“It’s the space and time,” Brenders said, describing how the residency offers musicians a chance to escape from the everyday distractions of life and focus on creating. “Here they live on campus, they get up they go to their [personal 24 hours access] studio … It’s focused solely on that [creating].”

He said it is always an amazing exercise watching the musicians develop and explore their projects over the month.

“This is one of my favourite programs to work on because you really see the kind of transformation that they go through. They’re exploring and struggling and then they go through finding breakthroughs."

Brenders added that he appreciates how the artists can collaborate and share information across genres, inspiring each other to tap into the full potential of their musical creations. He added that participants leave the residency transformed by the experience.

The Banff Musician in Residence Open Concert is a critical aspect of the project because it is designed as a place for performers to experiment and share their music with audiences.

“They need an audience to be able to show what they’re been working on,” Brenders said. “The open concerts allow musicians to take chances.”

During the show creators often debut songs they have been working on for only a few days, or audiences can witness new and exciting collaborations between artists who have just met.

“It’s a very kind of experimental, but exciting, energetic dynamic space where people are playing music that is unfamiliar to them, but trying to test it with an audience,” Brenders said. “It’s a safe space for them to take those chances.”

For curious listeners looking to experience a unique concert, he said, the show transcends genres offering audiences a taste of everything from people from all over the world.

For those willing to enter the show with open ears, they can go on a journey with musicians over the course of the evening. The two-hour concert features between 10 and 15 acts.

“You get this weird mix of people that are from all over the world that are playing music from all over the map of what music is and how it can be defined,” Brenders said. “They’re completely diverse and dynamic and exciting.”

“The icing on the cake” he added is that every week a visiting mentor is brought into the program to share advice with the musicians and they are featured in the concert.

“It’s for an audience that has a voracious musical taste that’s interested in everything,” Brenders said. “You get a good assortment of musicians and music.”

The next Banff Musicians in Residence Open Concert takes place on Friday (Jan. 10) at 7:30 p.m. at the Banff Centre Rolston Recital Hall. The show is free to attend.


Chelsea Kemp

About the Author: Chelsea Kemp

Chelsea Kemp joined the Rocky Mountain Outlook in 2019 as a reporter and photojournalist. She writes provincial politics, health care, arts and entertainment and Indigenous stories. She also contributes photo stand-ups, multi-pics and essays.
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