Banff Centre Music Residency for 'Wandering with Wonder'


Chris, Sherryl, Matt and Sam

The project starts to take shape…


Creativity is work. It is the work I live for but it is still work. Sometimes the work flows and sometimes it consists of staring at a blank page for hours until you realize pulling out crayons and drawing what you are thinking might be a better use of your time. I had a great conversation with one of the artists in residence at the Banff Centre about how to get the creative process going and we both agreed Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’ held some excellent words of wisdom that helped both of us. 

So, all of this to say that once the soul searching solitary work of research and writing is underway for me, the part I love the most about any project I have worked on is when the collaboration begins with all the other artists.  This happened for 'Wandering with Wonder' two weeks ago at the Banff Centre. Matt Epp arrived on Wednesday, September 25 and we headed out to see the Leighton Centre so he could see the land. We had one of those magical fall days where the world seems to be bathed in a golden glow.  The staff at the Leighton Art Centre treated us to a guided hike through the tall grasses and the yellow leaves of the property and we started to dream of how everything was going to take shape in almost exactly one year for 'Wandering with Wonder'.  It is easy to dream when you look out at the view of the Rocky Mountains from echo hill. The grasshoppers were still in full force jumping around the bottom of our pants.  Little did those little grasshoppers know how Sherryl was going to bring them into our work just a few days later.

Matt and I met up with Sherryl Sewepagaham and Chris Andrew the next day at the Banff Centre.  Sherryl and Matt had never met in person so this was all really exciting.  Sherryl, Matt and Chris are all incredible composers in their own right so having them all together in one place was really amazing.  We started our time together by reading through the story and literally getting everyone on the same page.  Then we headed outside to experience Janice Cardiff's 'Forest Walk'. This was hilarious because the staff didn't really know where the walk started and, since this work was created in 1991, many of the touchstones she references in her walk have been moved, cut down or simply don't exist anymore.  It did provide us with some great inspiration for what we will be creating and taught us that if the audience who comes to experience 'Wandering with Wonder' is anything like us we are going to have to make the content in the headphones really interesting to keep the audience's attention. 

Then the creation began.  We worked through the storyboarding of the entire show and where everyone was going to place their music. Everyone shared their ideas and we didn't stop working until lunch on Saturday, September 28.  We barely left the studio the Banff Centre provided us with, so when a dance party started beside us on Friday night we invited the artists in so we could meet some of the talented people whose energy had been surrounding us for our short stay at the Centre.  The music for this project is going to be 'Wonder'full and we can't wait to share it with you once it is done.  

Yesterday I was back in Banff working with my editor, Christy Mackintosh, on the story.  It is still a work in progress but we are getting there. 

Thank you for reading this blog and joining us on this journey of creation.  We hope to see you all in a little less than a year when we premier this new work at the Leighton Art Centre.  

September 19/20, 2020 

We acknowledge the support of the Province of Alberta through Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Canada Council for the Arts. Thank you for your generous support. We appreciate it so much.