A letter from the outgoing director for The Banff Centre’s fall and winter music programs has raised fears the centre’s classical music agenda is under threat.
Director of music Henk Guittart sent a letter “uninviting” musicians who were scheduled to participate in the 2013-14 Creative Music Residency programs.
Guittart wrote that The Banff Centre’s new president, Jeff Melanson, “has decided to end the Fall and Winter Residencies in their present form,” and was terminating Guittart’s contract as of March 2013.
“I obviously strongly disagree with this, in my view, destructive decision,” Guittart wrote.
With his unvitation, Guittart included an internal memo from Melanson. In the memo, Melanson explains to staff that the change is due to the Centre redefining “our collective vision for the future of The Banff Centre. Over the next few months, we will review the needs of our participants, and consider ways to diversify and strengthen our programming.”
Guittart confirmed the content of his letter and the attached memo, but declined to make further comment. He has directed the fall and winter creative music program since 2010. He will be replaced by jazz pianist Vijay Iyer.
Melanson is currently in Australia and could not be reached for comment, though he has been quoted in the Globe and Mail and Norman Lebrecht’s blog on ArtsJournal.com as asserting the Centre still values classical music and will continue to support it through its summer program and the Banff International String Quartet Competition.
** Correction **
The Banff Centre says that the residencies are not being cancelled, but rather that a shift is occurring, bringing in more diversity in the residencies. The fall and winter residencies will continue. Although Henk Guittart is leaving the centre, he is not being replaced by Vijay Iyer, who is the director of the Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music.