Blog: Galway, Ireland’s Teen Soprano, Aimee Banks, Sings for You
Top Left: Aimee Banks with Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams at Glenlo Abbey, Bushy Park, Co. Galway, January, 2016. Below: Aimee Banks performing at Ballybunion Marconi Day, March 19, 2019. Center: Aimee Banks performing at dedication of the Christmas Garden at Galway Clinic in Galway, Ireland. Right: Josh Groban with Aimee Banks and mum, Alyson Banks (right) and Aimee’s twin sister, Anna Banks with Aunt Kathy, Alyson Bank’s sister.
Have you noticed that the most valuable souvenirs I have gathered up in my travels are people I have met who linger in my life affixed to my thoughts and interactions? Consider that travel is not just about sitting under every palm tree, counting every grain of sand on beaches, touching every article in a gift shop or seeing every artifact in a museum. Perhaps that’s a reason that a destination calls to you and just maybe there is one soul you are meant to know and stay in touch with forever as a result of your travel encounters. Such is my life as I meet people in my travels that need to be kept in focus. One such family constellation that fits that category is the Banks family of Alyson and Jeff and their children, Ross, Anna and Aimee. Today, I’m thinking about Aimee and it’s important enough to share with you so that when her name is splashed about at celebrity levels in the not too distant future, you’ll be able to say, “I remember when Stephanie Abrams talked about her on radio, in her TV show and in her blogs.”
This December 2020 will be five years since I encountered Aimee Banks at a SKAL International Galway Club’s Christmas Gala. My husband and I had arrived on Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way at Shannon Airport only two days before and we were still getting over jetlag so I was beginning to feel a bit groggy just after the main course at this Christmas party at Galway’s historic Meyrick Hotel, now the Hardiman Hotel, in 2015. I nudged my husband and quietly suggested that we say our ‘goodnights’ in this break between dinner and dessert and excuse ourselves before I fell asleep at the table and drowned in the coffee being served.
But, just as my husband was nodding in agreement, the President of SKAL International Galway took center stage in the ballroom of the Meyrick to deliver a Christmas greeting coupled with an introduction of a special surprise for those assembled. She announced that a local thirteen year old young lady, Galway’s Aimee Banks, who was Ireland’s representative at the very competitive Junior Eurovision Song Competition, was about enhance our SKAL Galway Christmas Gala experience by singing for us. That prompted me to give my husband that ‘Plans Cancelled. . . How can you walk out on a 13 year old’s performance’ look!
Quietly tiptoeing out of the ballroom was not in the cards so we settled in to experience what was about to unfold. Aimee Banks took the stage. She was darling and looked like Alice in Wonderland with brown hair. A good wind could have blown her slim body off the stage. Aimee positioned herself at the microphone and, as the music began to cue her beginning to sing and in that short period of time from the introduction by the SKAL president to the first notes coming from Aimee, her demeanor changed for a 13-year old enjoying the attention to the stance of Maria Callas commanding the stage and that shift of was smooth and stunning.
And then, the first notes emerged from Aimee and filled the cavernous cathedral-ceilinged ballroom with stunningly mellifluous, bold and robust sound that couldn’t possibly have been emanating from that hundred pound, or less, body! To say that I was blown away from the outset of this performance is an understatement and, more than once while Aimee was performing, I found myself wiping tears from my eyes, a reaction that I experience when I recognize I am in the presence of greatness.
Aimee is now 18 years old, has graduated from high school where immersion in speaking Irish was an important part of her studies as was her musical education, and today, Aimee is studying for her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Performance at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, Ireland.
Since I am like the bumblebee that flies from flower to flower connecting blossoms with its pollenated feet, I saw a unique opportunity to make a connections between a fully blossomed garden of exquisite flowers in the form of Ana Maria Trenche De Bottazzi, a world-renowned pianist whose incredible beginnings are retold in her memoir, “To Live Again,” and Aimee Banks in hopes that they will get to work creating a Video Concert, either live online or recorded, to enhance the lives of all of us. That connection has been made and we now need to watch for the production that will be of great historic value.
In the meantime, have a listen to two short pieces I received today from Alyson Banks, Aimee’s mum, of Aimee in a live performance singing in German. I am confident you will be wowed by the quality of this 18 year old’s operatic skills and talent. And, for contrast, here is the video of Aimee singing at the Junior EuroVision Song Competition in Irish when she was 13 and Episode 11 of Travel TV WITH Stephanie Abrams where Aimee performed at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.