Brian R. Banks

What Others Say

Brian Banks’ compositions are among the most potent and poignant of any composer writing today. Contemporary music has always been a very central part of my repertoire and profile as a performer, and rarely do I come across a body of work that projects such an intensely personal, distinctive, varied and compelling musical language.

I have performed and recorded Brian’s first three piano sonatas, as well as shorter works and chamber music. The experience of playing Brian’s music comprises some of the most deeply fulfilling and rewarding musical experiences of my career. Brian and I have known each other for 33 years, dating back to when we were 1st year undergraduate students at the Peabody Conservatory, and I have so enjoyed watching and being a part of his many musical journeys since then.

Geoffrey Burleson, D.M.A.
Performer and Director of Piano Studies
Hunter College of CUNY

The first piece that I played by Brian Banks was in 2011 during my participation in the Forum of New Music “Manuel Enríquez.” I remember that when I began playing the Guitar Sonata No. 1 (“Mosaic”) it was a very refreshing and pleasant experience: it is mysterious and restless, full of contrasting sound images. From then on, I have had a strong collaboration with Brian, including the premieres of the Sonata No. 2 for solo Guitar, Hommage à Arvo Pärt for Oboe and Guitar, The Puget Sound Preludes and his Bonsai Concerto No. 3 for Guitar and Small Orchestra which I will present with The Tijuana Camerata in Baja California, November 5th and 7th, 2015.

In my experience in interpreting these 5 works I find that Brian’s musical thoughts always express sincerity through a language nourished on the vast culture of our time, joining universes that seem to appear irreconcilable, ranging from a Hindu raga through contrapuntal forms of the Baroque, or from brilliant virtuoso passages to the contemplative pursuit of the sound of the sea. It is essentially emotional music that weaves fantastic stories. It is the beauty of shape and sound that is bereft of presumptuousness.

Roberto Limón
Latin Grammy-nominated Classical Guitarist

As a conductor, performer and recording producer for Brian, I know first hand that his music is highly engaging for the public, and often highly virtuosic for the performer. Yes, it’s contemporary music that breaks paradigms and rules, but Brian maintains a sense of order that communicates—in a way that both the public and the performer can accept and appreciate.

The first work of Brian’s that I heard was his choral work Oh Tiempo, where I fell in love with his harmonic language and capacity to generate unique sound environments.

Later, I was able to perform and record A Bonsai Garden, Set II for two violins: a fascinating project of micro-movements with highly contrasting characteristics between them, including dissonance, tonal moments, drama and emotions. It was fascinating to work on the album— A Bonsai Garden — because I got to know the whole set of Brian’s of bonsai pieces and realize that their sound world remains consistent, despite being written for different combinations (marimba with clarinet; flute, bass clarinet and piano; guitar and violin, etc.).

Brian has a crazy, stubborn personality that drives his work as an artist. And as a friend and a life-long educator, he tremendously motivates others and cares deeply about successful collaboration so something important happens, musically.

Sergio Castro Medina
Conductor, Performer and Director General de Difusión Cultural
Universidad de las Américas Puebla (UDLAP)