The Banff Centre

Thanks to support by Goethe Institut and Federal Foreign Office I have been able to carry out several projects in Canada this fall, and a collaboration during composer Todd Harrop’s residency at the Banff Centre (Alberta) was the first one. I joined Todd for the last week of his residency, from September, 27 to October, 6. Todd had been working on a new composition for Bohlen-Pierce clarinet in the past weeks, and in this last week we were finishing it and preparing it’s premiere in Toronto.

Coming from North Germany, my trip took 21 hours in the whole, flying from Hamburg via Amsterdam to Calgary and from there taking the shuttle bus to Banff in the Rocky Mountains, two more hours to go.

Todd’s seven week residency has been financed through a generous scholarship from Conseil des arts et des lettres Québec. Shortly after my arrival I made first acquaintances with some of the other artists in residence from Mexico, Ireland, Iceland and Austria. Musicians, composers, visual artists and writers staying at the Banff Centre for residencies each have their own wooden cottage as a studio, each of which is designed by one architect individually. These studios are situated in a small forest and are called Leighton Artists’ Colony. They are designed to match the needs of composers or writers, some are made for visual artists. One of the studios is a repurposed fishing boat, another one is round with lots of light from above – ideal for a visual artist – and the Valentine’s which was Todd’s working space has a grand piano and huge windows around the desk which give a direct view into the woods with its pine-martens, squirrels and deer.

I was happy to be given my own little practice hut for the duration of my stay. About 30 of these little huts for musicians are situated on the whole Banff Centre area, and mine was the one at the access to Leighton Artists’ Colony. Practice huts are about 2 x 2 m and have a music stand, a desk and a piano. They have a heat, too so that even in fall one does not need to be cold.

Besides working on my projects – Todd Harrop’s new composition Bird of Janus, preparing my solo-recital in Toronto (practicing, program notes, programming electronics) and preparing my masterclass in Montreal – I enjoyed the vast and beautiful landscape of the Rocky Mountains and the deer and elk on campus.

At the end of our stay Todd and his fellow artists – Mina Bárcenas, Daniela Edburg, Ilián González – presented their work in an open studio event. The video and photography projects of the three Mexican artists went well together with Todd’s electronic compositions of the past weeks, plus I gave several performances of the new Bohlen-Pierce piece Bird of Janus. Visitors of our exhibition were artists and musicians staying at the Banff Centre as well as many staff members. Thanks to Banff Centre for providing wine and finger food!

The next day – our last day in Banff – I once more enjoy the splendid music library on campus. In the afternoon Todd and I went on a little hike to the hoodoos, an unusual group of rocks which are one of the area’s attractions.

On 6th October we left Banff for Ontario for my solo recital at Gallery 345 in Toronto on 9th Ocotber, and later travelled to Montreal like I did a year before to give another masterclass in interpretation of contemporary clarinet music at Conservatoire de musique de Montréal. Montreal’s avantgarde concert location Vergil Reality hosted a concert of Roxy auto-config.

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About msmullerful

Freelance musician (clarinetist), mostly involved in contemporary music projects but still able to play the classic repertoire.
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