Karen Slack & Ian Cusson Join Banff Centre’s Opera Faculty

By Francisco Salazar

The Banff Centre in Canada has announced it will build upon its work in recent years changing conversations about opera.

The Centre announced that Joel Ivany, director of opera at Banff Centre since 2014, will be joined this season by two co-directors: Métis and French-Canadian composer, Ian Cusson, and American soprano, Karen Slack.

Cusson will look at historical interactions with opera and imagine new ways to create music and collaborate within and across Indigenous cultures while Slack will guide participants through a wide-ranging repertoire that will focus on the contribution of Black composers to Classical music.

In a statement, Slack said, “I am delighted to join both Joel and Ian on this journey of giving unheard voices and untold stories the platform they have long deserved. As we are navigating through this new normal of creating art virtually and a racial awakening I feel honored to be able to educate a new generation of artists about the past and assist in the creation of what we desire to be Opera in the 21st Century.”

Cusson noted, “We are at a pivotal moment in opera–a time when we are asking critical questions about how we make work, who we make it for and what voices and communities have historically been absent from that process. The great power of opera remains its capacity to move hearts and minds through all-encompassing storytelling. We are widening the circle, making space for new stories and voices from the diverse world in which we live, and in so doing, laying the foundation for the next 400 years of the artform.”

This season the program will also include a commission from Cusson and a BIPOC librettist.