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Banff pianist's new album is a self-portrait

“Everybody had to be indoors, so I thought why not finally get some work done," said Banff-based and Brazilian born pianist Luciane Cardassi. "This is more than an album, it’s my history in a way."

BANFF – What is a musician to do during a global pandemic?

For Banff-based, Brazilian born pianist Luciane Cardassi, the answer was simple – complete her album Going North, a project that has spanned more than 10 years.

After a two-year visiting professorship at the Federal University of Bahia, UFBA, in Salvador, Brazil, Cardassi returned home in March to a very different Banff.

She recalls being able to walk along Mountain Avenue to the Banff Gondola and Banff Avenue without seeing another person.

However, during the lockdown and the early stages of the pandemic, Cardassi said she was provided with the perfect opportunity to wrap up a very personal project.

“Everybody had to be indoors, so I thought why not finally get some work done. This is more than an album, it’s my history in a way,” said Cardassi about her latest endeavour, which is set to be released on Oct. 30.

When Cardassi moved to Canada in 2007, she began working on a project called Going North.

“I had this idea of developing a project that could strengthen relationships with Brazilian composers and invite artists from Canada to expand my web of collaborators. It’s about my trajectory between both countries. It is like a portrait of myself.”

Over the years Cardassi collaborated with numerous Brazilian and Canadian artists, compiling a large selection of work. From that pool of compositions, Cardassi curated eight songs for the new album. It features a collaboration with four Brazilian composers and four Canadians.

“The album consists of piano, voice and electronics. Each piece has a totally different sound world, and they show different ways to collaborate with composers,” said Cardassi.

Even before the world of virtual Skype calls and Zoom meetings, Cardassi explained the online collaborations were already part of her workflow simply because of the distance between herself and her collaborators.

On a few occasions, some of the artists were able to work with Cardassi in person, in the shadow of the Rockies.

There is even a posthumous collaboration featured on the song, The Boat, the final recording on the album. The piece features Fernando Mattos, a close friend and the first composer Cardassi collaborated with, who passed away in 2018. The album is dedicated to his memory. 

“It’s a collaboration that never took place. I had recordings of him improvising on the guitar that we projected through speakers while I played the piano. It sounds like we are both playing in the same room at the same time.”

While collaboration has been a cornerstone of Cardassi's career, technology has started to become part of the progression and development of her more than 20-year career. Trained in classical music and playing acoustic instruments, she has branched out to more contemporary styles of sound, including electronic influences and using her voice and poetry on her recordings.

“I wanted to have a dialogue with more recent sounds ... it’s been about exploring new possibilities.”

Since her first collaboration with Mattos, Cardassi became hooked.

“As musicians, we crave companionship. As human beings, we want to be part of a community. In the music world, if you are just playing as a soloist – it can be very lonely. I wanted to be a part of the creative process in the music world.”

The album was recorded last May at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and Cardassi is grateful for the support she received over the years from the hub of creativity.

“I owe a lot to the Banff Centre – it is a huge part of my life. It’s the reason I live here.”

With the loss of 250 permanent positions at the arts institution and live performances cancelled, Cardassi is uncertain what effect it will have on her own musical career. For now, she is focused on the upcoming release of Going North and eager for future collaborations.

The album will be released on CD and digitally.

Evan Buhler

About the Author: Evan Buhler

Evan Buhler is an award-winning photojournalist and reporter who joined the Outlook in 2019. A native of Calgary, he previously worked in Salmon Arm, B.C.
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