Leighton Artists Colony with Gregory Lee Newsome


Last week I headed off to the Banff Centre to work with Toronto composer Gregory Lee Newsome for a few days at the Leighton Artists’ Colony. Many of us know the Banff Centre as one of the world’s great oases for artists, providing support, resources, solitude, and time to focus on special projects. (I’ve always thought of it as a real-life Rivendell from Lord of the Rings — but without all those Elves. Or wizards. Or Nazgûl circling the perimeter. Alright, forget it, it’s nothing like Rivendell.) The Leighton Colony is part of the Banff Centre, but slightly removed from the rest of campus in order to give writers, visual artists, and musicians that extra little bit of space, and it was here that Greg and I mapped out the beginnings of his new piece for alto flute and electronics — a special commission by the Toronto philanthropist Daniel Cooper. Daniel has helped create a number of solo pieces over the last few years including a solo viola piece by Cassandra Miller (written for Pemi Paull), a solo percussion piece by Michael Oesterle (written for David Schotzko), and a solo cello piece by Andrew Staniland (premiered by Frances-Marie Uitti). For five days Greg and I explored the traditional and extended soundworlds of the alto flute — the deeper, huskier cousin of the traditional concert flute (also affectionately known as the “Lauren Bacall of the flute family”). The gallery above shows some of the Colony grounds and studios — and provides sobering proof that, while we Vancouverites are being inundated with pink and white cherry blossoms, the rest of Canada is still pretty frickin’ cold in April.

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