2010 Banff Summer Arts Festival showcases new creative work in opera, music, dance

Banff, Alberta, April 25, 2010 -- One of the most successful composers of contemporary opera working today, John Adams (Doctor Atomic, Nixon in China) has also created a remarkable repertoire of symphonic and chamber music, movements built around monumental historical events — the American Civil War and the aftermath of 9/11. Adams will be in Banff in July to mentor emerging young composers in The Banff Centre’s music residency program, and to conduct two of his most popular works, Shaker Loops and The Wound Dresser (July 2). It’s one of more than 150 events that will be presented in Banff as part of the Rockies’ biggest cultural celebration.

The Banff Centre’s annual showcase of fine and performing arts, the Banff Summer Arts Festival runs from May through August, with performances and exhibitions in music, opera, theatre, dance, visual and literary arts, new media, and film, much of it original work created at the Centre.

The Festival kicks off in May with jazz, literary, and puppet events — readings by authors including Meg Wolitzer, Pico Iyer, and Robert J. Sawyer, and three performances of the Old Trout Puppet Workshop’s latest surreal and wholly inventive adventure, The Tooth Fairy (May 21 to 23). Then the lineup swings into jazz on May 22, with nightly improvisational jazz clubs and high-profile mainstage performances in the Eric Harvie Theatre. Banff Centre jazz director and trumpet virtuoso Dave Douglas headlines festival jazz performances May 22 and 29, sharing the stage with artists including Clarence Penn, Jeff Parker, and Matana Roberts. On June 5, saxophonist and band leader Ravi Coltrane takes over the stage.

In mid-June, The Banff Centre previews a new contemporary opera by U.K.-based composer Gavin Bryars — it’s a version of the life of Marilyn Monroe with avant-garde Icelandic singer Eivor in the title role, a piece co-commissioned by Victoria’s Aventa New Music. Another B.C.-based company, Wen Wei Dance, is also in Banff in June, previewing a spectacular collaboration with the Beijing Modern Dance Company before they travel to Ottawa for the 2010 Canada Dance Festival. The Banff Summer Arts Festival also goes all out to celebrate the weekend around National Aboriginal Day in June, with performances of Raven Stole the Sunby Red Sky Performance, and Tomson Highway’s intimate cabaret Keesagatin with jazz vocalist Patricia Cano.

In July, catch the first of the Festival’s mainstage orchestra concerts, featuring the Banff Festival Orchestra conducted by Joel Smirnoff and featuring marquee violinist James Ehnes, with a performance of Beethoven and Brahms. Multiple opportunities to catch Music for a Summer Evening in the Centre’s acoustically gorgeous Rolston Recital Hall blend with nights in the Club — including a show by deep south experimental musicians Quintron and Miss Pussycat.

From July 20 to 24, an international roster of young dancers will be on stage for Festival Dance, the Centre’s annual showcase of classical and contemporary ballet. This year, the program includes a new work by choreographer Kevin O’Day, artistic director of Ballett Mannheim and a past collaborator with Twyla Tharp and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Festival Dance will also stage contemporary works by Czech choreographer Jiri Kylian, one of the giants of late-20th-century dance, and a Balanchine classic, Who Cares?

In August, singers and actors from the Opera as Theatre program will perform in two operas, including the light, accessible adaptation of Little Women by Mark Adamo, along with two special performances of Benjamin Britten’s version of The Turn of the Screw, an eerie psychological thriller based on the novel by Henry James. Stick around for more great music in the middle of the month, when Lior Shambadal conducts the Banff Festival Orchestra, with a trumpet solo by Banff fave Jens Lindemann — a program of Dvorák and Haydn.

Other highlights for the 2010 Festival include two shows by Australian didgeridude Xavier Rudd, two shows by African-Canadian singer-guitarist Alpha Yaya Diallo, a visit from singer-songwriter Sarah Harmer, Walter Phillips Gallery shows by Ron Terada and Melanie Gilligan, readings by Lawrence Hill, Paul Tough, and Ian Brown, a showcase of accessible science by our favourite science guy, Jay Ingram, a preview of Daniel MacIvor’s new play, Arigato, a return engagement by the Jupiter Quartet, winners of the 1994 Banff International String Quartet Competition, and the list goes on. The Festival is designed to appeal to all ages and all interests with large-scale mainstage shows, intimate club gigs, lots of literary and visual arts content, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the gorgeous surroundings of the Canadian Rockies.

The Banff Centre is Canada’s creative leader in arts and culture. Our mission is Inspiring Creativity. In our powerful mountain setting, exceptional artists and leaders from around the world create and perform new works of art, share skills and knowledge in an interdisciplinary environment, explore ideas, and develop solutions in the arts, leadership, and the environment.

The Banff Summer Arts Festival is generously supported by presenting sponsor RBC.

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About The Banff Centre: The Banff Centre’s mission is inspiring creativity. Thousands of artists, leaders and researchers from across Canada and around the world participate in programs here every year. Through its multi-disciplinary programming, The Banff Centre provides them with the support they need to create, to develop solutions, and to make the impossible possible.