Rumours have been swirling for weeks around Canada’s Banff Arts Centre. The bad news has just landed, and it comes from the departing artistic director, Henk Guittart, and the president, Jeff Melanson.
Here is Henk’s letter, followed by an internal memo by Jeff Melanson, president of the Centre:
With deep regret I have to write all of you (more than 100 musicians and experts in other fields ) this sad message. You were the essential guest faculty and/or performing musicians for the three Gruppo Montebello projects who I invited for my first, second, third and even fourth year in planning (13-14) for the Banff Fall and Winter Creative Music Residency Programs.
On September 25 I have been informed by the new president of The Banff Centre, Mr. Jeff Melanson, that he has decided to end the Fall and Winter Residencies in their present form. This also means that my contract will end in March 2013 and that all my plans for the future, above all maintaining, enriching and improving the quality of the program, the level of participants, and opening to a more global approach, including presenting the complete Society for Private Musical Performances with the Gruppo Montebello and commissioning emerging Canadian composers, will disappear.
I am very sorry to inform those of you with whom I have been in touch about the plans for next year, that I now have been forced to “uninvite” you.
As there seems to be quite a bit of confusion about both the wording and the content of what is going to happen in fall and winter, particularly with classical music, I hereby send you an attachment with two Banff Centre communications and an excerpt from an E-mail message which I received from the president yesterday.
I have no comments, except that I obviously strongly disagree with this in my view destructive decision. And I am puzzled by the idea of reviewing the needs of “our” participants, as I have read all applications over the past three years, and all the impressive and satisfied feed-back, and did not see applications in the directions of other types of music that will now receive more attention. I assume the president is referring to a new group of participants, which needs to be found. The word “our” is confusing to me.
The staff from Music&Sound informed me that the present residents (26 musicians from 10 countries), who as you can imagine are very upset by all of this, have started an online petition, see the letter in blue by pianist Rosabel Choi below this message.
I am grateful for your wonderful and generous coaching and performing,as well as for your support of the artists during your stay in Banff. I would like to thank all of you for that marvelous experience. I enjoyed very much working and cooperating with all of you and I am looking forward to see those of you who will join me this for me last year in Banff. I have the intention of celebrating every day of my last months here.
Needless to say that I mourn over the loss of such a unique and valuable program. I also attach for your information my text as it is printed in the programs of this year.
From: Jeff Melanson, President
I am writing to advise you that we will be saying good bye to Henk Guittart at the conclusion of the 2012/2013 Fall and Winter Music Program. Henk has served as director of Fall and Winter Music Programs for The Banff Centre since March 2010, and prior to that was artistic advisor of music programs (2006-2010) and guest faculty for many years. Throughout his time in Banff, Henk has made a significant contribution both at the Centre and to the music community nationally and internationally.
Henk will continue to lead our music programming through to March of 2013, working with artists, faculty, and staff to deliver the programming and concert excellence that the Centre is known for. Moving into summer 2013, Vijay Iyer will begin his new position as program director for the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music, and Barry Shiffman will continue to lead our Summer Music Programs and Banff International String Quartet Competition.
I thank all Banff Centre staff for their support during this transition period, as we continue to redefine our collective vision for the future of The Banff Centre. Over the next few months, we will review the needs of our participants, and consider ways to diversify and strengthen our programming. Our ambition remains to design and implement the most compelling and impactful programming possible, and to continue to offer the very best in creative and professional development for artists and leaders from across Canada and around the world.
September 28, 2012
Before your arrival I would like to share with you some news from The Banff Centre. Henk Guittart, Director of Fall & Winter Music Programs since 2010, will be saying goodbye to Banff at the end of March 2013.
Please read an announcement below from Jeff Melanson, President of The Banff Centre. As ever, Henk will be leading a vibrant and inspiring Fall
2012 and Winter 2013 program with our renowned and distinguished faculty.
The Banff Centre will continue to support classical music programing through its Fall & Winter, Summer and BISQC programming. At the same time, the Centre is seeking to diversify music programming to open further opportunities to support Canadian music of all genres.
Simon Gamache, Program Manager, Music
October 13, 2012, from a message by Jeff Melanson, in response to criticism and questions from concerned audience member and sponsor, which I received per E-mail:
Let me reassure you that The Banff Centre will continue to support classical music through its summer and BISQC programming.In particular, the impact and reach of BISCQ will grow in 2013. ————–We are delighted to be working with Barry Shiffman as our champion of Classical music at The Banff Centre. I am very confident that you will continue to be amazed and delighted by the programme.