Statement on the passing of jazz pianist Tommy Banks

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Tommy Banks Order of Canada Big Band Concert

Tommy Banks Order of Canada Big Band Concert. Photo by Rita Taylor.

BANFF, AB, January 26, 2018 — Tommy Banks, a beloved figure in the arts across Canada, and a renowned Edmonton jazz pianist has died at the age of 81. Banks was a frequent partner of Banff Centre in artistic creation and presentation, and most recently performed at Banff Centre with one of Canada’s greatest trumpet players, Jens Lindemann OC. 

Banks was the founding chairman of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, was chairman of the Edmonton Concert Hall Foundation from 1989-1991, and was an Officer of the Order of Canada. Banks was named to the Senate of Canada in 2000. 

“We will miss Tommy Banks, and everything he did to build the performing arts community not only in Alberta but also across Canada. In the later years of his career, Tommy Banks served as a Canadian Senator, but he never stopped making music. He performed only two summers ago at Banff Centre,” said Janice Price, President and CEO of Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. 

Banks' long and impressive musical resume, which began with his professional debut in 1950, covered virtually aspect of Canadian entertainment through the years.
He won both a Juno and Gemini award, hosted "The Tommy Banks Show" from 1968-83 and numerous other TV programs, and performed throughout North America and around the world.

The accomplishments listed on Banks' website include his role as a guest conductor for numerous symphony orchestras, including 12 in Canada, and his musical direction for Olympic and Commonwealth Games and for such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth and Pope John Paul.

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity extends its heartfelt condolences to Tommy Banks’ family. 

About Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity: Founded in 1933, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is a learning organization built upon an extraordinary legacy of excellence in artistic and creative development. What started as a single course in drama has grown to become the global organization leading in arts, culture, and creativity across dozens of disciplines. From our home in the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity aims to inspire everyone who attends our campus – artists, leaders, and thinkers – to unleash their creative potential and realize their unique contribution to society through cross-disciplinary learning opportunities, world-class performances, and public outreach. In 2018, Banff Centre celebrates 85 years of creative practice. banffcentre.ca