top of page
River mtn.jpg
banff cover.jpg

The Banff Project

Project Manager

Recorded: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Year: 2017


Grant MacEwan University artists and faculty, along with Jack Wilkins (saxophone), Corey Christiansen (guitar), and Sara Caswell (violin).

Live Concert Premier:

Held in Edmonton at Grant MacEwan University in the Fall of 2017, as part of the opening celebrations of the Betty Andrews Recital Hall.


The Banff Project continues my interest in using visual imagery as part of  presenting my original music.  Each composition is based on a visual inspiration, with accompanying visual works designed to be shown as the music is performed.  The music is timed and linked to the visual pieces, creating a multi-media presentation that helps to include the audience in the creative experience, allowing the audience to “see” and “hear” the inspirational elements of each composition.  This is an artistic concept that I explored in the composition process on The Blue and Green Project, music based on Appalachian mountain inspirations. I found that the visual imagery screened for some compositions in concerts helped explain the music and provided interest for audiences.  Many modern arts presenters are exploring this concept, as it brings different arts interests together, expanding the audience base.   My expectations for the Banff Project is that it will give me more opportunities for live multi-media concert presentations, and also possibilities for gallery type presentations of the recorded music and film. 

Compositional Descriptions:

Castle Mountain


Banff Highway

Swingin’ at the Banff Springs Hotel

Lake Louis Reflections

Banffshire Suite

A composition based on Castle Mountain, an iconic peak in the Banff National Park.  Melodic lines follow ridgelines, strata layers and other physical attributes of the mountain.  Banff Centre digital designers collaborated to create the visual imagery,  starting with a high-definition Panoramic photograph of Castle Mountain and creating a 3D image which is shown from a film perspective, zooming and out to showcase the features that are depicted in the music.  Special effects highlight various musical elements as the 9-minute piece works its way from left to right across the photograph. 

This visual piece uses a 360-degree high-definition panoramic photograph as the basis for the musical compositions.  The photo is scrolled across the screen, at a speed determined in advance, to which the music was written.  As various landmarks of the Banff panorama come into the center of the screen, a melodic theme is presented, each landmark/iconic place has a theme.  The panorama is presented 3 times, each new version layered on top of the previous version (in time, synchronized).  The first panorama is played at original speed, the next is played in the same direction at twice the speed and the third rotation is played in reverse, also at double speed.  As a result, the thematic materials appear more often and in different situations as each layer is added.  I collaborated with Banff Centre visual artists/digital designers to capture the original photograph and create the video presentation.

Film footage and time-lapse photography was taken of the drive from Lake Louise to Banff on the Bow Valley Parkway, the main road through the Banff National Park.  This famous highway features amazing scenery, Rocky Mountain peaks on both sides of the road, as it follows the Bow River Valley. The 45-minute footage is sped up to run for the duration of the music, the recorded track is approximately 7 minutes in length.  Added effects and manipulation of the footage result in a high-speed adventure married to the driving, jazz based composition.  Film maker Edwin Dennis created the video and the special effects.

The musical concept for this piece is to take the audience on a period-based trip to the Banff Springs Inn, the majestic hotel built by the Canadian Pacific Railroad to attract travelers to the West. The hotel was a destination for the rich and famous from its beginning, around the turn of the century.  The music is reminiscent of a radio play, which begins with train sounds and imagery, and continues with the arrival at the station, the drive to the hotel, the hustle and bustle of the lobby check in, and exploration of the grand hotel.  The music ends with a trip to the ballroom where Swing Era dance music takes the audience on a “Swingin” finale. The visual piece that goes with this music is a documentary style “slide show”, utilizing historic photographs and other images (period images, Canadian Pacific flyers and advertisements, etc) as material to be presented as the music works its way through the adventure. Images come from the Whyte Museum, which houses most of the historic materials about Banff history, including a large collection from most of the well-known Banff photographers and historians. This piece is one of the collaborations with filmmaker Edwin Dennis. 

Lake Louise is one of the most recognized images in Canada.  This glacier fed lake is carved out of the mountains, and is one of the most visited sites in Banff National Park.  The music takes inspiration from the reflections in the lake water and the composer’s “reflections” on the beauty and ambiance of the lake and surrounding area. Footage and photographs of the Lake in different settings are linked together in this film by Edwin Dennis.

This composition is inspired by the Banff areas historical ties to the Scottish and Irish explorers hired by the Canadian Pacific railroad to open the west.  Banff was named after Banffshire, a county in Scotland.  Irish explorers established and named many of the areas peaks and settlements.  The music is a 3 part composition, starting with a musical picture of the Scottish/Irish meadowlands, moving to an Irish jig depicting the sea voyage and then moving into a series of reels (dance music) that move from traditional sounding music to more “western” (modern) sounding variations, depicting the move west across Canada to Banff. 

bottom of page