A Sneak Peek at 2017 Summer Classical Music Programming

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Claire Chase and Steven Schick

Steven Schick and Claire Chase

Each summer, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity welcomes hundreds of musicians from around the world to its classical music programs. Building on the visionary tenure of Barry Shiffman, who has guided both classical and other music programming at Banff Centre for the last 10 years, our newly announced co-artistic directors Claire Chase and Steven Schick explain their pedagogy and approach, faculty overview and programming themes.


As we get started in our exciting new roles as co-artistic directors of the Banff Centre Summer Music Program, we will have a chance to meet many of you in person and chat with you directly about our aspirations. But we’re really eager to begin! So please allow us to share some of our initial plans, goals, and dreams as we look forward to the summer of 2017 and beyond.

To start, we are honoured and humbled to have this opportunity. For more than 80 years, many of which under the foundational guidance of Tom and Isobel Rolston, and then, in the last decade, with the incomparable Barry Shiffman at the helm, music at Banff Centre has meant honouring the past and preparing for the future. With residency programs dedicated to the highest standards of chamber and solo playing and a faculty of passionate and accomplished interpreters, generations of young musicians have opened their minds and sharpened their skills at Banff Centre. It is our pledge to continue that distinguished lineage, and to add to it.

In many ways, you’ll find our ideas familiar. We’ll honour our musical roots with an abiding commitment to the performance and study of great music. Starting in 2017, you can expect special focus on the masterworks of Bach, Biber, Beethoven, Schubert, Ravel and Stravinsky, amplified by an equal focus on the work of some of today’s most exciting composers from Canada and the US. You’ll see an extraordinary faculty of interpreters from the Miró and JACK String Quartets, the Imani Winds, the legendary British pianist Nicolas Hodges, brilliant young Canadian performers Aiyun Huang, Vicki Chow, Aisslinn Nosky and Winston Choi, and the titanic energies of the New York based International Contemporary Ensemble. We are also pleased to welcome to the faculty a phenomenal group of composers, among them the young Canadian luminaries Zosha di Castri, Sabrina Schroeder, Remy Siu, Anne Bourne and Tiffany Ayalik, who by instruction and example will inspire and elevate participants and audiences alike. And you’ll experience music that will be made in Banff and heard for the very first time here in this beautiful place.

From informal conversations among participants held on the slopes of Mount Norquay, to master classes, to formal concert productions intended for the loyal Banff audiences, this programming will create rich collaborative relationships and stimulate intense experiences in music-making.  

The new will find its home within the language of the old, and tradition will be infused with the energy of the recent and unexpected. So expect to witness some unaccustomed bedfellows! Stravinsky will be heard side-by-side with Vijay Iyer’s extraordinary Radhe Radhe, and Beethoven next to MacArthur Award winning composer George Lewis. Roots and Rhizomes, the percussion residency founded in Barry Shiffman’s tenure, will continue with scintillating percussion music including a piece by Michael Pisaro with Greg Stuart of one hundred musicians who will drop hundreds of pounds of rice on resonant percussion instruments. The result will be a rainforest of small and beautiful sounds. 

Oh, and one more commitment, maybe the most important one: we envision an experience for our participants and audiences that reflects the diversity and vitality of contemporary society, both in Canada and beyond. Through our own work and through cross-disciplinary collaborations with other Banff Centre Artists along with an abiding respect for the natural and cultural heritage of this part of Canada, we will bring Banff to the world and the world—in all of its richness, promise, and complexity—to Banff.

Yours sincerely,

Claire Chase and Steven Schick

Co-artistic Directors of Summer Music, 

Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity