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Banff Public Library ready to pump up the volume

“It’s more than just listening to a song or a piece of music— it’s engaging with the actual artist."

BANFF – Creating a space to shine a spotlight on Bow Valley musicians, beautiful harmonies will be reverberating off the bookshelves of the Banff Public Library with the introduction of the new Listening Room music series.

The series was made possible through a collaboration between Banff Library assistant director Carey Lees and local musician and artistic director Garry Gonis.

“It’s a very happy thing, you have to change your performance – you can focus more on personality and rapport,” Gonis said. “It’s [the Listening Room] the ultimate thing to be able to present your music .”

Listening rooms are growing in popularity, Gonis said, explaining that the venues focus on celebrating the artist who is performing by limiting distractions that could take away from the show.

“There’s nothing better than watching live music,” Gonis said. “It’s more than just listening to a song or a piece of music – it’s engaging with the actual artist. That experience is over and above anything you can get on social media or TV.”

The Listening Room music series will hopefully deepen people's appreciation of the music, he said while highlighting the masterful musicians that live in the Bow Valley.

The style of the shows will vary based on the performers and how they choose to engage with the crowd. Gonis added that the performances are designed to offer an intimate experience of special moments that give audiences an understanding of the work that goes into creating a piece of music.

The library is always exploring new programs to offer the community, Lees added, especially events that can engage with community members looking for a tranquil, intimate evening of music.

When Gonis approached her to bring the music series to the listening room, it was the perfect opportunity.

“This kind of program fits well with our mandate as a library,” Lees said, explaining that the series complements promoting the importance of literacy through the power of songwriting and music. “It’s a really great fit for us as a library. We’re really excited.”

The music series will hopefully serve to bring new people into the space, Lees added, giving the library the chance to showcase the diverse programs it can offer to the Bow Valley community.

An intimate musical performance can be eye-opening for audiences and showcase the power of musical literacy, Lees said. She added the Listening Room is part of the organization's continued commitment to nurture and grow the programs it can offer to the community.

“It’s just a way I think of … reaching more people and bringing them into the library,” Lees said. “People are there to be focused on just them [the artist].”

It is incredible being to be able to offer an event like this, Lees said, because it is accessible to the entire community and part of the library’s continued commitment to serving as a community hub.

Gonis added that he hopes the series will be an educational experience for the audience. He explained that guests will be able to have a glimpse behind the curtain to understand the hard work that goes into creating music and albums.

“I really like the idea of slowing things down and coming to see a more quiet [musical performance],” Lees said. “It’s an opportunity to focus and just slow down while providing opportunities for people to get away from their screens and everything else.”

The series has the potential to be a powerful and personal experience that will hopefully give both audiences and artists an evening of transcendence, Lees added.

The venue will be able to seat about 60 people but will be able to offer standing room if needed. All shows in the series are free to attend.

“Just show up and support the artists,” Gonis said.

The Listening Room music series kicks-off at the end of February and will run on Friday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. every two months for a total of five performances.

The first show will feature the musical groups Liz and Lars and Max Hopkins on Feb. 28.

“It’s going to be awesome,” Gonis exclaimed. “The listening room experience is like no other in the valley right now.”

Chelsea Kemp

About the Author: Chelsea Kemp

Chelsea Kemp joined the Cochrane Eagle in 2020 as editor, bringing with her experience as a reporter and photojournalist. She writes about politics, health care, arts and entertainment and Indigenous stories.
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