Canada’s National Music Centre Finally Opens Tomorrow

After years of planning and construction, Canada gets its version of the Rock and Hall of Fame tomorrow. Check that: it’s better.

I was on the planning committee for the National Music Centre in Calgary, so I’ve watched this project from the beginning—and I’m pretty confident in saying that this will be way cooler than what they have in Cleveland.

Five floors, something like 160,000 square feet, $160 million-ish dollars to build. The Canadian Music Hall of Fame finally gets a permanent home. Performance spaces. Rotating exhibits. Interactive displays. Important artefacts from Canadian music. Extensive histories of music in Canada—all kinds of music. Recording facilities. Live-work space for artists.

There’s a collection of keyboards that goes back to the 17th century and also includes a huge assortment of vintage synthesizers. (They have the actual ARP synth that was used to play the five notes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” There’s gear from famous recording studios, including Olympic studios in London. Everyone worked there.

And they have the Rolling Stones mobile recording truck. This is the actual unit the Stones used to record Exile on Main Street in the south of France. Deep Purple sings about it in “Smoke on the Water.” And led zeppelin used for their fourth album, meaning it was used to make songs like “Stairway to Heaven” and “Black Dog” on it. The truck has been refurbished and is ready to use again, this time by Canadian musicians.

Here’s more of a preview from the Globe and Mail:

Rising in a neighbourhood called the East Village, the National Music Centre’s Studio Bell is a bold statement. It is a national monument to music built not in Toronto or even Ottawa – but in Calgary.

It is a work of impressive architecture in a neighbourhood that could have once, not that long ago, been described as barren. It is multigenre: not a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or a Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum or a hallowed hall of classical music. It is not a museum, either, but it has collections and exhibitions; it’s not a school, but there will be educational programs; it’s not a concert hall, but it will host concerts.

“We invented an institution,” says architect Brad Cloepfil of Allied Works Architecture, who developed the program and architecture working with NMC president and CEO Andrew Mosker, based on Mosker’s vision. “He had a dream of an institution that was more than a museum, kind of more than everything. A kind of music institution that doesn’t exist – education, performance, everything.”

Mosker put his vision to his board in 2007 and received support to do something “very aspirational, very big.” Construction began in 2013.

Read on.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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