February 12, 2018 2:55 pm
Updated: February 12, 2018 3:01 pm

Celebration of Life for Tommy Banks to be held at Winspear on Wednesday

Former senator and legendary Edmonton jazz pianist Tommy Banks has passed away at the age of 81, his family confirmed Thursday night. Quinn Ohler has more on the legacy he leaves behind.


A memorial service for award-winning jazz musician and former senator, Tommy Banks, will be held in Edmonton on Wednesday, Feb. 14.

The celebration of life will take place at the Winspear Centre. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the service will begin at 7 p.m. and will include speeches and musical guests.

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“This is a non-ticketed memorial service,” the Winspear said on its website. “Seating will be first-come-first serve, limited over-flow seating will be provided with live audio/video projection feed of the main stage.

“There will be an open jam session located in the Winspear lobby following the memorial. All are invited and welcome to participate.”

Banks passed away on Jan. 25 at the age of 81.

READ MORE: Edmonton jazz pianist and former senator Tommy Banks dies 

He was revered around the world as a pianist, conductor, arranger, composer, television personality and former senator. He’s been described as a national treasure and a jazz icon.

The Winspear is a significant venue for friends and family of Banks. The music legend helped launch fundraising efforts to build the performance hall nearly 40 years ago.

In 1980, Banks was the coordinator of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra’s Pops program.

READ MORE: Juno nod for Tommy Banks marks jazz great’s first nomination in 37 years

Banks, along with a group of other stakeholders, began making inquiries into the feasibility of fundraising and constructing a new concert hall. In order to secure funding from various levels of government, the group had to prove that Edmonton wanted the new venue.

The Winspear Centre opened in 1997.

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Since then, it has grown and evolved and now offers programming for different demographics, from a baby music box program, to Disney symphony performances and opportunities for seniors to play alongside the professionals, and is now working towards an expansion project.

— With files from Global’s Quinn Ohler

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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