A grand concert venue and a huge piece of Toronto history, Massey Hall is celebrating it’s 124th anniversary this year. Since it’s inception on June 14, 1894, it has hosted some of the world’s greatest performers like Canadian legend Gordon Lightfoot, Bob Dylan and a legendary jazz concert featuring the likes of Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and Dizzy Gillespie. It’s no wonder that it is hailed as one of the foremost music performance venues in the world.
After hosting so many performances, it only makes sense that it needs a face lift. On July 2nd, Massey Hall will be closing for two years to complete the most in depth and important revitalization in the venue’s history. Being a professional musician is hard. The big stages are reserved for the biggest performers, but the revamp of Massey Hall is in an effort to make the hall more community-oriented. They want to offer a stage for artists of all levels.
Big venues like Massey Hall rely on smaller venues across the city as incubators for talent. Small concert venues are where upcoming bands learn to thrash and flail in front of a live audience. Grooming your live performance and stage presence is paramount before moving into the big leagues. Well, with the renovations, Massey Hall will no longer be the only venue on Shuter street. The main hall will remain the pride and joy, but two smaller stages meant for less established performers are being added in.
A small stage will be added in the Centuries bar in the basement and a new live music room will be installed on the fourth floor of the hall. These smaller venues, along with offering some great music, are a way for Massey Hall to ‘farm’ talent. Not only will artists have a chance to play in this historic venue, but if they show promise, a spot on the main stage may be in their future. Furthermore, this revitalization is assisting with the problem of small venues closing down across the city. Up and coming bands won’t pull in crowds of thousands, but still need a place to perform. Massey Hall is trying to be that place. Music is, and always will be, a community-based art. So, reaching out to a wider community is a smart move on the part of Massey Hall.
This is more than a renovation. This is an investment in the young artists of tomorrow; up and coming bands who just need a shot to show they’ve got it. It also ensures the longevity of a legendary venue, by modernizing it to fit with the needs of the city and artists. This fits right in with the mission statement of Hart Massey: to focus on artist development and community outreach.
To celebrate the 124th anniversary, Massey Hall is putting on an all-star alumni performance on Thursday, June 14th. Whitehorse will be the leading performance, backed up with artists like Jim Cuddy, Sarah Harmer, Buffy Saint-Marie and Sam Roberts. All tickets for the event are $18.94 to commemorate the year that Massey Hall graced the public with its open doors. The three nights before the closure on July 2nd, Gordon Lightfoot will be headlining the stage. You’ve got a just over a month to enjoy this classic Canadian venue, so get in while you still can!