As the most recent surge of COVID-19 continues to wane, entertainment venues and festival organizers are taking the first steps in the return to the in-person concert.
Part of the local revival features the Juniper Hotel & Bistro and Peaks + Prairies Productions, who have teamed up to bring classical music back to the stage with their Music @ The Juniper spring series.
Lev Nesterov, founder & artistic director at Peaks + Prairies, is looking to highlight the level of intimacy between performer and audience that classical music affords in a small venue setting.
“What we are offering is a full concert experience,” Nesterov said. “With the opportunity to get drinks beforehand, and perhaps also get dinner as well, which is one of the packages we’re offering at the hotel.
“A sit-down concert helps bridge the gap between the musician and the audience and the culinary aspect only adds to the overall experience.”
Kicking off the four-concert series is classical guitarist Brad Mahon on Friday, March 18. Mahon will be performing familiar favourites and a collection of new works by composers from around the world, and acknowledges that the past two years have been challenging.
"It's exciting to be playing for live audiences again. Live streaming was a necessary tool and it provided access throughout the pandemic,” Mahon said. “There's no replacing the emotional exchange that occurs between artist and audience during a live performance."
Tickets for the series are $25 for the concert only option, and a three-course dinner plus concert seat goes for $95. As a continued COVID precaution the venue will be limited to 60 seated guests and masking, while not mandatory, is encouraged in the concert space.
Banff resident Nan Hughes, a mezzo-soprano vocalist who will be performing with pianist Jack Olszewski on Friday, April 8, is also looking forward to the chance to be in front of an audience once again, even at sixty percent of normal capacity.
“I’m really excited about the concert series Music @ The Juniper, because it gives classical musicians a platform and a voice,” Hughes said. “There are many opportunities for singer songwriters in the Bow Valley, but, particularly during the pandemic, when the Banff Centre had to close down operations, there have not been as many opportunities for classically trained musicians to shine.”
The Bow Valley supports a wide variety of musical genres, and the classical music following is as strong as any, with an extended fan base that reaches all corners of the province.
“I am indeed eager to be back in front of an audience and I know many people across Alberta who are longing to attend live classical concerts again,” Hughes said. “To experience the special intimacy, beauty and excitement that a live performance provides.”
All concerts in the Music @ The Juniper spring series will be held in the Kiguli Room at the Juniper, and concert and hotel stay packages are available. Violinist Anna Stube joins pianist Susanne Ruberg-Gordon on Friday, April 29, and sisters cello duo Ine & Mari Coetzee will perform on Saturday, May 7.
Please visit musicatthejuniper.ca for more information or to purchase tickets.