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Breaking: arts centre dismantles classical residencies – ‘we have been forced to uninvite you’

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:

Dear all,

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.

Warmest greetings,


To:All Staff
From: Jeff Melanson, President
Subject:Staffing Announcement

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.

Best wishes,
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.

Best regards,
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.

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  1. puzzling and tragic…

    • This sounds utterly and totally insane!!! And makes me think that the future of the Banff Centre is less about artistic vision and more about being a ‘conference’ centre. I cannot believe it!

    • Trevor and Michele MacHattie says:

      This is a very upsetting turn of events. What a loss. Do the people taking these decisions understand what they are dismantling?

      The Banff Centre has created an internationally recognised residency program for classical musicians, attracting first class students and faculty from around the world. The delivery of this program is making a difference to the level of achievement for many young professionals.

      Dumbing it down to cater to all kinds of music will turn it into a dog’s breakfast of mediocrity. Inclusive yes, but we expect little to be accomplished. Thank you for sharing this very sad story.

      Trevor and Michele MacHattie, Sooke, BC

  2. Rory McLeod says:

    This is very sad news indeed. I have heard nothing but glowing reviews from artists who have participated in the fall and winter residency programmes at The Banff Centre, and am very sad to see that this unique opportunity for growth and exploration will no longer be available in its present form. I wish all the best to Henk, and to all the other musicians and artists who will have to abandon their current and future projects.

    • Dr. Pamela Mia Paul says:

      Deeply disturbing. The message seems like “code” for a dumbing down of standards.

  3. Thanks Norman for addressing this issue, and for including the complete conversation. To misquote Mark Twain, rumours of the demise of The Banff Centre’s music programs have been greatly exaggerated! While there will be a change in leadership in 2013, the Centre’s commitment to supporting artists is unwavering. It is true that with Henk Guittart’s departure, the Gruppo Montebello project will end. However classical music programming will continue as part of The Banff Centre’s Fall & Winter and Summer programs, and through the Banff International String Quartet Competition. At the same time, the Centre intends to diversify our music programming to open more opportunities for musicians of all genres, including world music, jazz, indie band, singer-songwriter, Indigenous – and in particular Canadian artists and music.

    We welcome comments and feedback from artists, musicans, and music lovers!

    • Jane Russell says:

      This is a sad day for musicians in Canada. Why do we need to lose The Banff Centre’s Fall and Winter Residencies, in order for there to be growth? Would it not be possible for the Residencies to stay in place and for growth still to occur?
      With no real talk of future plans, this is devastating.

    • Thank God! Classical musicians being such a dominant force these days, it’s about time someone stood up for those poor musicians of other genres, unduly neglected by the throngs of Mozart fans clogging the streets!

    • Sumner Engelhardt says:

      Hey Debra, looks like you need to take some more Corporate Leadership Training to learn how to write PR bull that’s even halfway convincing.

    • There is actually a bit of the correspondence missing, I quote the relevant bits from my Welcome to the audience, as printed in the programs of this 12-13 season:

      For more than three decades, this unique program – one of a kind on our planet -has nurtured thousands of talented artists; many of whom have gone on to leading positions in musical organizations all over the world.
      What makes these Friday concerts so special? Expectation mixed with surprise, the kaleidoscopic variation in style, in sounds and in instruments, the high level of performance, the mixture of world-famous and emerging artists, hearing so-called standard repertoire as well as music which will be new to all of us – either because it is from the past centuries but has been neglected, or because it has never been performed in Banff or Canada, or because it is brand-new. And these concerts in our residency program turn Banff one more year into what I called “The World’s Smallest Metropole,” as you can hear a wide choice of repertoire performed and presented in a unique and diverse form.
      Sadly, this is my final season as Director of the Fall and Winter Music programs here at The Banff Centre. Fall 2013 will bring a new a new director, and a new focus for the music programs, as the Centre opens further opportunities to support Canadian music of all genres — from indie band, indigenous music, to singer-songwriters, to jazz, to classical music.
      I am grateful for your support of the musicians of our residency, for the respectful attention
      during the concerts and for your loyal attendance. Please join us for the remainder of the concerts and celebrate with the resident artists and the guest faculty the art and music that made this program so very valuable and – in today’s world- so very vulnerable.

      Henk Guittart

      Director of Music Fall and Winter Programs The Banff Centre

    • Jerry Reed says:

      Its a horrible decision to relieve Henk of his duties. Just another bullshit cut to the arts in Canada.

    • It really looks to me like the ‘commercial’ sector has found a way into Banf, under the guise of ‘accessible’ or ‘public interest’ ‘diversity’ etc etc. Soon you will have arts funding going to the commercial sector via the back door. … It’s happening in other countries too. The reason it’s happening is because the commercial sector has seen an opportunity to take advantage of the financial crisis, presenting itself as a way to get value for money and bums on seats for a chash-strapped arts sector, and an even bigger prize, the opportunity of being taken (mistaken) as ‘serious’ music, and as serious ‘art’. Hideous, and short sighted! Skilled music making will thus be given up to the listless indignity of ephemeral ignorant teenage anxiety (otherwise known as pop music), and their pimps (the commercial record labels).

    • “It is true that with Henk Guittart’s departure, the Gruppo Montebello project will end.”

      Ah, that explains everything. It’s all Henk Guittart’s fault. If he hadn’t left, there would be no cuts, right?

      Mr. Engelhardt’s assessment is very correct.

  4. No surprise considering that they have been chewing up and spitting out classical music directors (Barry Shiffman is one example) like Bear Grylls going through a month old dead badger carcass.

  5. It sounds like a poorly fabricated smokescreen to cover over a funding cut.

    My brother was recently hired by a company in Red Deer as an instrumentation technician apprentice. He was fired 30 days later because he apparently “lacked the experience” to continue working there. He was hired, however, as an apprentice, which means that the intention should have been to train him. What is more likely is that the company lost a contract and could no longer hold on to him, so rather than telling him the truth they made up the excuse to save face.

    This incident reminds me of my brother’s situation. It sounds like Jeff Melanson has an unspoken agenda that would be too damaging to reveal.

  6. You may want to edit your post title to something a bit more accurate. I don’t think they are “dismantling classical residencies” entirely. Only the projects that Henk conceived but won’t be able to bring to fruition due to his departure.

    • Anonymous Resident says:

      As a current Banff resident who attended a meeting with the music program director, Mark Wold, it is not at all clear that there will be a residency of any kind next year or in the future. The impression is that the “middle management” is really as much in the dark about the future of the program as anyone else, and is just trying to do damage control for the president at the moment.

      As was explained to us in the meeting, there is an executive “vision” from the president (that may or may not include future classical residencies), but there is no concrete “operational plan” as of yet. Being an artist on the ground at Banff, I think the title is entirely correct. There is no official word that they’re replacing us with an “indie band” residency as the worst rumors suggest, but I think any degree of optimism at the moment would be incredibly naïve.

      • No Fan of Assumptions says:

        There already IS an Indie Band residency that has been running for a couple years now….

  7. As an initial recipient of the above email, I would like to state that this above information is one side of the story – it comes from the former head of the residency program. According to Jeff Melanson (the president of the Banff Centre), there will be major changes to the program as it stands:

    “We will continue to include classical music programing in our Fall & Winter, Summer, and BISQC programs. In fact, the impact and reach of Banff International String Quartet Competition will grow in 2013. At the same time, we intend to diversify our music programming to open more opportunities for musicians of all genres, including world music, jazz, indie band, singer-songwriter, Indigenous – and in particular Canadian artists and music.”

    What concerns me is that the summer programs are meant especially for students and that the BISQC (while awesome), is not a residency. I become worried reading “we will continue to include” – yes, to what extent will you? The program is unique as is, and while changes are possibly excellent, it would have been wiser to unveil the changes (hopefully with a lot of consultation!) with this announcement so that there would be facts to discuss instead of (possibly terrifying) possibilities.

    But let’s see what The Banff Centre presents! Maybe this will be chalked up to “one big misunderstanding!”

  8. Reggie Benstein says:

    Debra, it sounds like the powers that be are planning to add litres of water and stir, and I question what this will do exactly for the classical musicians who attend those programs. I suspect the result will ultimately be the Banff Centre’s version of what is now the CBC. That is, in trying to please everyone, in the end it is satisfactory for no one.

    • Geoff Radnor says:

      Yes Reggie, I think you are right, just like the CBC.

    • Margot Jewell says:

      This was exacty my response. This sounds very much like the CBC’s “new mandate” that serves no one.

    • Very True. The CBC ‘dumbed down’ and even the classical music hours are painful to listen to. What a disaster that Banff is following in CBC’s footsteps. This is all a fallout of music education being cut in public schools so that new administrators have no appreciation or knowledge of classical music.

  9. Stephen Wihak says:

    Drama: Factory Theatre…
    Music: Banff Centre….
    Who’s next…?

  10. Monica Gil says:

    This is not Sad, this is devastating.

  11. This is tragic. I participated in a Fall Residency in 2000 and a Winter Residency in 2005. Both experiences continue to have a positive impact on my career as a composer to this day. I cannot think of any reason to discontinue this program, which has been so beneficial to so many artists.

  12. Those who are reminded of the changes at CBC Radio 2 when a spokesperson for the Banff Centre explains that the plan is to diversify to include jazz, indie bands, etc. echo my own thoughts. It seems like every time I turn on the CBC now (much less often than in the past) I hear talking heads punctuated occasionally by a tune from the latest 3-chord wonder of a singer/songwriter.

    • Geoff Radnor says:

      Linda, you too are right about what happened to the CBC. What is happening to Canadian cultural life?

      • Dr. Marc Villeger says:

        But CBC Radio 2 “Tempo” is promoting Lang Lang’s new release with a video featuring an American dancer and Lang at the keyboard… Beyond the arguable esthetic value of the video, it is the mercantile staging of stars, or dubious derivative products (the 50 shades of grey CD) who truly do not need taxpayers’ money to be promoted, that CBC Radio 2 and hosts embrace these days. Meanwhile for others, 2’54″ of air play in 4 years and counting…

  13. Eric Beresford says:

    So sad, it looks like Banff is going the way of the CBC.

  14. This is just one more example of the ‘tail wagging the dog’. Popular culture, and the consumerism associated with it, is washing over our continent. Our ‘fine arts’ continue to be confused with populist ‘entertainment’ arts. This latest action is absolutely another ‘dumbing down’ of programmes in order to make room for a ‘broader range of genres’. This kind of crap doesn’t happen in Quebec….remember who kept Harper to a minority for so long..and why?

  15. Erin Donovan says:

    It seems a little premature to be panicking- perhaps we should all wait and see what changes are proposed before assuming that it will be devastating to the residency program. Perhaps it will be better than before…new leadership usually means change and that’s always difficult. It sounds like there are some good ideas in the wings. I wish Henk the best, he has always been so vibrant and supportive of young players. Jeff Melanson seems to be an intelligent and artist-friendly leader as well, let’s give it a chance!

    • Anonymous Resident says:

      No, now is exactly the right time to make our voices heard precisely because no official details on the changes have been announced. If we “wait and see,” it would surely be too late for us to influence the direction Banff’s programing might take. As a Banff resident who just yesterday attended a meeting with the head of music, Mark Wold, I assure you there is absolutely no reason for optimism.

      • Please tell us more… and can you explain how none of the Canadian media have followed up?

        • Anonymous Resident says:

          I can report on the meeting yesterday led by Mark Wold (head administrator of music), Simon Gamache (the number 2 music admin), and a woman from Banff PR who was trying to figure out how to put out some coherent message. The meeting was held for about 16 very upset artist residents, not the media. My impression is that even these middle management guys are very confused and there truly isn’t any concrete future plan currently in place. What we know for sure is as follows:

          1) This isn’t about money or the bottom line. Residency enrollment has been on the decline, but that’s not the primary factor in any change.

          2) This all came down from President Melancon as part of his executive “vision” to “diversify.” Henk wasn’t really compatible with that “vision” so he got axed.

          3) There is currently no real plan for the future of music apart from vague promises to “diversify” while maintaining a “commitment” to classical music.

        • I worked for a short while with Mark Wold. Not only is he a committed musician, as a violinist, but also a very excellent administrator. Any major policy change would not be his call; nor would it be the call of any of the other head administrators in the artistic disciplines; who, I can add, have enough difficulties to contend with that are assuaged only by being able to work with international artists of the highest calibre. They also all happen to be really good at what they do, and their dedication is legendary.

          The questions to which answers would assist include (1) why has residency participation declined? (2) what is the executive vision, and, as the Banff Centre is already the most diversified arts organization in Canada, is further diversification intended, or is the nature of the diversity to be changed? (3) why cannot changes be additions rather than substitutions?

          As to the silence of the Canadian media: it is largely because the major media no longer pay any attention to the fine arts. Although the latest indie band release will certainly get column space for a neophyte reviewer.

      • Erin Donovan says:

        For what it’s worth, I think I’d like to hear from Jeff Melanson before assuming to know what the proposed changes are. I’m wondering if his vision is different from Henk’s but perhaps still valid. I agree that the artist’s voice is critical but we don’t know what we are reacting to yet. I’ve seen many changes at the BC from the Rolston’s time to the present and benefited from many residencies myself- but also know there is room for diversification and change. That’s the wait and see I’m referring to.

        • Anonymous Resident says:

          If they had something exciting, great, and concrete to announce, wouldn’t they have announced it already? Rather than sneak out news of Henk’s firing on a Friday afternoon and wait until rumor and backlash to hold a damage control meeting?

          Most musicians have seen situations like this before and we know how the story usually ends. Despite all administrative promises and reassurances along the way. Perhaps this time will be different. But there is no reason to assume it will be and the best bet is to voice our thoughts and opinions now, and loudly, rather than trust in one man’s “vision” and that everything will be OK.

          • Diana Piggott says:

            I, too, would like to hear from Jeff Melanson, if he has anything to say! But I also feel it is important to make our voices heard now, before it is too late. If enough of us let the administration know how we feel, that is surely bound to have some effect? All stakeholders should have a say in what happens!

            Personally, I have thoroughly enjoyed Henk Guittart’s presentations, and am extremely sad to see him go, especially under such circumstances.

  16. the main challenge for me in the given statements of the president is that there is no clear answer to ‘how’ the residency program will change. of course changes are inevitable and it is not necessarily a bad thing.

    the bad feeling comes from the vague, fuzzy statements without actual details of proposed changes.

    in the past, i do not think the fall/winter residencies were limited exclusively to classical music. at least it did not in year 2009, where i did both residencies. in fact, i met several friends-for-life who does indie, jazz, contemporary… all kinds of music.

    the danger is not re-structuring of the program, but possible elimination of the residency program itself.
    i sincerely hope that the format of residency program will stay intact, as there are very few places where a person can truly ‘live’ in such an environment.

  17. I guess the impact of this decision will become clearer over time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, in five years, the support for classical music at The Banff Centre is just a shadow of what it is now.

    Sure, they’ll keep BISQC – that’s a high-profile event with corporate support. But doesn’t The Banff Centre have a crucial role as an incubator for emerging, professional talent – you know, the talent that ends up *in* BISQC?

    If they wish to add support for indie and world, that’s good, but why at the expense of classical? Having been a resident myself, I can tell you that it’s not because the residency programme is ineffective or underused.

    Jeff Melanson, and The Banff Centre Board of Governors, please reconsider this.

  18. Jacqui Lynn Fidlar says:

    While I would never wish to stand in the way of ANY musician or artist, I agree with the CBC comments, and I mourn the beauty, challenge, commitment, and vanishing craft of classical music in Canada. By all means, let all musicians have their chance, but don’t destroy one while embracing the other! I am also sorry that people are losing positions because of it; I really would like to know who EXACTLY is behind these changes. I had some unbelievable experiences at the Banff School, and they have helped to shape the artist I have become, and I know many others who feel the same way. There are other excellent programmes in this country, but the more there are, the more opportunities present themselves to those who need them. I truly hope that this matter will be investigated and thought through with great care; please take good care of our artists!!!

  19. Andrea Case says:

    I feel somewhat like someone who has been left at the alter upon hearing this news. I am confused, heartbroken and can’t help thinking it must have been some kind of terrible mistake. Doubtless it was inevitable, but it seems that the glory days of the Rolston’s Banff Centre music program have been obliterated. My heart goes out to the artists of the world that won’t ever get to experience the wonder of a residency, having been a long-term resident myself on 3 separate occasions, along with having attended countless short-term residents. Tragic, puzzling. All I feel I can do is keep on top of the news and push for the best possible outcome.

  20. Andrea Ciona says:

    I am deeply disturbed by the loss of the fall/winter residency at the Banff Centre. Canada has very few world class centers for Classical Music development, and none are as special, unique or inspiring as the program at the Banff Centre. Fall/Winter residencies have a different tone than the summer programs listed in the above letter, allowing artists to truly delve into their potential, in an inspirational, for some spiritual, environment.

    This announcement is a blow to the ongoing development and promotion of artists in Canada.

  21. Caitlin Smith says:

    I know that this impending change seems scary, especially because it has been announced without any details as to what, exactly, will replace it (a very poor procedure, and one which has elicited many emotional reactions from Banff alumni). But the fall/winter programming has been financially inaccessible to those of us who live below the poverty line for a very long time, even with their insufficient scholarships, and public grants to attend such programs are few and far between. I hope that they find a way to keep the same world-class level of programming, but make it available to artists of all socio-economic backgrounds.

    I think it’s disappointing to lose the work on the programs that Henk was setting up- this seems a waste of his time and talent. I hope that, as they move to make their programs available to a more diverse group of musicians, they don’t continue to throw out the incredibly high level of classical music programming that has been developed at Banff over many decades.

    • Anonymous Resident says:

      There is no indication that they are moving to make the program more affordable for residents. If anything, they are trying to attract people from the more corporate musical styles who can afford to pay.

      • Has this been communicated by the administrators? That “they are trying to attract people from the more corporate musical styles who can afford to pay”

  22. Dominique Laplante says:

    I agree with the comments about the CBC. This is heartbreaking news. I’m sorry to say that the tone of Mr Melanson’s email itself shows such poor leadership that the details to follow are sure to disappoint even more. Although the changes themselves are the most disturbing part of this article, I bristle at the email, which I translate to say ‘we have taken your house, but we have packed you a suitcase. The suitcase is locked, of course, however we will give you a key when we see fit. In the meantime, your complaints are meaningless because you don’t even know what’s in it. We assure you there is a pair of socks and perhaps also toothpaste or its equivalent.’

  23. This is tragic news. Incompetent administrators who can’t come up with any good ideas to solve problems re-create the wheel (in a financially more responsible way of course).

  24. Dmitry Nesterov says:

    It is very sad to see how classical music programs slowly get rejected in many Canadian institutions. Too bad it is happening in the Banff Centre. I believe the problem is in our leaders, who simply has poor vision, or see only what they want to see. Yes, music does not bring that money, what other programs do.
    It feels like on a long run we will experience our society become a mediocre culture…
    What a disappointing news!

  25. Nora Abercrombie says:

    I believe that adding other genres to the programming at Banff might have been a positive development. But the dismantling of a fundamental program that supports the development of classical musicians is a critical decision that should not be taken without proper processes.

    To take such an action prior to a formal review — which would have included an assessment of needs by an independent third party — is suspicious to me. This is not a transparent process. There is no evidence available to us to support this decision. There is only an abrupt announcement by someone who might have personal or at least secret motives.

    What else can we assume, in the absence of a properly managed, public, transparent review of needs that included a thorough consultation with stakeholders and clients of Banff Centre for the Arts?

    Jeff Melanson states in his memo that we can expect a review in the future. I wonder why this was not done, and the information shared, prior to such a critical decision. If there is a proper review in the future — which I doubt — I expect it will be a whitewash. Clearly, Melanson and whoever else was invited to the decision-making table, had already made up their minds.

    I agree that there should be a review: but it should be of the management structure of Banff Centre for the Arts, which receives considerable public funding and therefore ought to be held to the standards of transparency and integrity that binds the actions of all those managing public money.

  26. Nora Abercrombie says:

    Oh gosh, I am still so mad!

    What “vision”? The first skill of leadership is being able to articulate a clear vision that inspires others. Melanson has articulated NOTHING that anybody can support, let alone be inspired by.

    Does this “vision” involve inviting a bunch of talentless wannabe rock stars to party and pose beside a mountain on the public dollar? Gack!

  27. Aidan Pendleton says:

    feels like a huge mistake. how many such paradise-like rich nests are there for classical musicians in Canada, let alone the whole world?

  28. Erin Donovan says:

    I don’t believe the vision of the Banff Centre was ever just for classical musicians! There are plenty of incredible jazz, funk, new music, world music and yes ROCK musicians that deserve creative space too. Talentless wannabes exist in every genre.

  29. I just want to say that on behalf of the musicians from Mexico that were part of the Winter Creative Music Residency it is difficult to think that this program as we knew it won´t exist anymore since it changed and enriched our lives in many ways. I also really appreciated that at the concerts you could hear a great selection of contemporary music and wonderful ensembles from around the world. I just hope that the next program will be as good as the one that we experienced. All the best for all the things to come…

  30. This all seems unfortunate, somehow. I remember attending a Banff summer program, in the mid 1980s. This place was just crazy with talent and the finest teachers in the world. And the winter program was just fabulous. The Canadian talent present now makes up the leading artists of the country.

  31. yep, probably a financial bollox – and they will probably give a summer residency to Julie Nasrallah (sic) the CBC tempo phone sex ‘personality’ who calls Mozart “volfie’ and simpers idiotically until you want to throw the porridge at the radio – dumb dumb dumber is the trend – at least WNED plays canadian classical musicians – since there are no more stations in canada that do so. i suppose it’s harper’s ‘anti’intellectualism’ at work – faux populism, instead of art. no drama, no music, no science, welcome to the orwellian world of conservative fatuousness.

  32. R. Duane Hendricks says:

    “If I only had a (right) brain…” then maybe they would appreciate and ensure the Arts, including contemporary classical, at the highest levels are promoted and encouraged and continued.

  33. Carey MacKenzie says:

    So sad to see the morphing of The Banff Centre for the Arts into The Banff Centre for business! If the people running it ever traveled outside of Canada (New York, Berlin, Paris, Budapest), they would realize that the Banff Centre for the Arts is unbelievably well known and respected for its winter chamber music programs!

  34. Alas the recent developments of the Banff Centre are not unique but part of a world-wide cultural crisis. A crisis under the motto of, I think it was Friedrich Nietzsche, “Umwertung aller Werte” . It is a dramatic result of the dogmatic and fundementalistic approach, characteristic of the so-called ‘philosophy of the free market. This consitutes by far the biggest threat to culture in general and classical music in particular.

  35. There *should be* enough support for everyone (instead of an either-or battle). eg. The 100-piece RNO was created & fully & eternally funded after a brief phone conversation between Gergiev/Putin (not that I am defending THAT guy i.e. FREE PUSSY RIOT). But the point is: it comes down to will. BC core is so-called *classical* and should remain so and be expanded & strengthened, then other traditions can be welcomed by expanding the pie. To do so depends upon the sales abilities of all involved.

  36. Many times resident says:

    What is offered in the fall and winter residencies is entirely different from the summer programmes and BISQC. I have participated in many residencies, which suit my stage of career and my age, and have also participated in summer courses elsewhere (the closest thing to a music residency) and they don’t offer me what I need any more (though they did when I was still studying)

    I hope this difference will be taken into account and the powers that be will not just assume that by keeping BISQC and summer programmes they are catering for “classical musicians”.

    Here is an interview with Henk, about that special Banff magic… posted on the Banff Centre website earlier this year.

    Special attention to this bit, which for me really does sum up the spirit of Banff fall/winter residencies.

    “What do you think The Banff Centre offers musicians that other residency programs don’t?
    There really is no competition to this program. It is open to artists in all varieties and in all stages of their career. The length of the fall/winter program, 20 weeks is unheard of – 24 hour access to your own studio, amazing performance opportunities, incredible recording facilities, and warmth and support from your peers. There are also all the subconscious benefits – fantastic isolation, geographical setting, and incredible scenery – the full experience of being here. A Magic Banff Formula that leaves people asking, ‘Why can I do things here that I cannot do in my studio at home?”

  37. I’m curious to know why there have been no follow up posts regarding the statements released by The Banff Centre (, the post from John Terauds in which he speaks with Jeff Melanson and Barry Shiffman (, or about the article published in today’s Globe and Mail ( Why leave things only with the alarmist news?

    • What’s there to follow up? We reported the inside story, fully documented. The organisation then had its say, backtracking on previous statements. Now let’s see what works out over time.

    • Alisa Faye says:

      Never believe anything until it is officially denied.

    • Reggie Benstein says:

      Nadia, as others have pointed out a few times in this thread, despite the (still vague and still shallow) assurances from the powers that be at TBC, now is exactly the time when people must make their concerns heard and voice their opinions !

      Saying that something is ‘not in jeopardy’ could mean anything on a very wide scale.

      I’m sure you know, classical musicians have been continuously squeezed into a corner over the last decades and they have the right to express that they are worried, and why. TBC has taken the corporate route, and perhaps this decision is pandering to that involvement. It’s been seen before so why not again ?

  38. I will be arriving next week to begin my music residency at the Banff Centre. I would like to know more about the online petition you mentioned — how can I get involved?

  39. Finally I have the time to take adantage of the Banff Centre, who in the past has been “courting” me over the years to take advantage of this program, and they decide to trash the whole business. What a great tragety for all classical artists but especially ones from Canada.

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