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Banff Centre classical music programming in upheaval with departure of Henk Guittart

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Barry Shiffman, left, and Henk Guittart

UPDATE: I’ve spoken with the Banff Centre’s Jeff Melanson and have posted all the latest information here.

Two weeks ago, I heard that Banff Centre artistic director Henk Guittart was leaving and that future winter residencies for classical musicians were being cancelled. My calls to Banff Centre director Jeff Melanson were bounced to a spokesperson, who insisted nothing would change with Guittart’s departure. This has proven to be false.

I’ve had to rely on a fresh blog post by Norman Lebrecht to find out that there are going to be changes at Banff, starting next year. You can read letters and emails from Guittart and Melanson here.

I have to admit that the situation does not seem very clear to me after reading these letters, but at least there’s some comfort in being assured that Barry Shiffman’s programmes, including the Banff International String Quartet Competition, are not going to be affected.

Banff spokesperson Debra Hornsby has responded to this post with this comment (also seen below):

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 (BISQC). In particular the impact and reach of BISQC will increase in 2013. 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, musicians, and music lovers!

John Terauds

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