Lake Agnes

Banff – Week 1 Recap

Yes, I am presently in Banff! And as a Canadian musician, all I can say is FINALLY! It’s been my lifelong dream to come here and make music, and my dream has come true. I was actually supposed to be here August 2020 but the pandemic delayed it until now.

The Banff Centre campus is uncharacteristically quiet. I’m actually the first artist to be back on-site as part of their gradual reopening…thanks so much to the Banff Centre for Arts & Creativity for the invite and making me feel so welcome and safe.

I’m here to compose an 8-piece suite of solo piano compositions inspired by the scenic hiking paths in and around Banff. Commissioned by American-Canadian pianist, Kara Huber, each piece in the suite is inspired by a specific hiking path capturing the uniqueness of its natural surroundings, the physical toll taken on the hiker, and the emotional and spiritual impact you get from having that unique experience.

In this video, I show you around my fabulous workspace and tell you more about my 4-week residency…

Having already fit in my first 3 hikes this first week that will inspire the composition of 3 pieces in the suite, I can honestly say that I am both physically and emotionally overwhelmed! Here’s a recap…

Hike #1 – Sulphur Mountain
No gondola for us…it took 2 hours and 5 minutes of constant switchbacks to get to the top. Thighs burning. Breathing heavy. Some scary narrow spots. But we eventually made it – what amazing views! We took those extra steps up to the weather station. I can’t imagine someone living up there in that tiny hut with so much wind. Coming down was only 1:20 but way harder on the feet than going up. Otherwise, it was an exhilarating 1st day! I’m so happy that Kara suggested this trail.

Hike #2 – Lake Louise
We took the 1-hour bus ride out of Banff to one of the most beautiful places on the planet…Lake Louise! This was an intense day as we hiked a bunch of trails all in one day: up to Lake Agnes passing Mirror Lake along the way. Kept going past the Tea House up to the Big Beehive. Some spots were scary narrow but the views up top & along the way were breathtaking. We ended the day with a serene flat trail alongside Lake Louise…we’ll call that the cool-down trail. ?

Visiting Lake Louise today was like visiting a sacred place. Regardless which religion you practice, all humankind has one thing in common…paying respect to nature. We are blessed. I was so overwhelmed emotionally that I was compelled to record my feelings at the end of the day.

Hike #3 – Sleeping Buffalo Mountain
Many of you who have been to Banff will know this trail as “Tunnel Mountain”, but out of respect to the area’s First Nation’s peoples, I refer to it as Sleeping Buffalo Mountain. Thankfully, the trailhead is right beside the Banff Centre and this was the shortest trail so far but my thighs still burned on the climb. I was also dealing with an annoying blister that really pinched inside my boot on the way down.

Despite beautiful views of the town of Banff from up top on Sleeping Buffalo Mountain, I felt a bit depressed throughout this hike. I think the excitement of the week coupled with feeling beat down from the physical exertion finally caught up to me. I feel so overwhelmed by the positive feedback I’ve been getting that perhaps now I feel a sense of responsibility to compose something great that will live up to the magnificence of all this nature that surrounds. In the end, all I can do is be the best version of me through my music.

More hikes and composing days to come here…stay tuned!