shine a light
Massey Hall & Roy Thomson Hall acknowledges the original peoples of the lands on which these buildings now stand, the Mississaugas of the New Credit. We also acknowledge the Anishinaabe, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples who also shared these lands.
CONTENTS 4 9 14 15 17
This hallowed hall Walking through the ﬁrst 100 years
Ahead by a century What the revitalization is all about
Historic halls of North America How does Massey Hall compare?
Architect Marianne McKenna Fixing up the Tower of Song
Sharing the music Educational programs are part of the mandate
19 21 23 24 26
Caught in the act Classic live albums recorded at Massey Hall
Live at Massey Hall Documenting career-changing moments
The next generation Artist development at Massey Hall
Memorable moments 10 unforgettable gigs of the last 20 years
Legendary lions Returning to Massey Hall again and again
A Message from Deane Cameron s caretakers of Massey Hall, we are proud that in its almost 125-year history, some of the most memorable cultural experiences for Canadians have occurred within its very walls.
Now we look to the future to do what is necessary to help preserve and update this magnificent music hall for the next century so that it remains a home to showcase and cultivate our future leaders in music, arts and beyond. As you will see throughout these pages, Massey Hall has been undergoing its first major upgrade in nearly 70 years with the Massey Hall revitalization. We are not simply fixing up a century-old building, we are expanding. This major, $130-million project will see a temporary closure of the Hall between summer 2018 through until autumn 2020. Until that begins, it will be business as usual. This much-needed revitalization will see the addition of a south tower that will be integrated with the existing historic building
and become a multi-use facility. A hub dedicated to music, film, and experiential learning will nurture artist development and inspire the next wave of Canadian artists. Massey Hall will encompass everything you’ve always known and loved about the building —improved and well equipped for another 125 years for future generations to enjoy, learn and be inspired. We look forward to sharing our journey through the future with you. Sincerely,
Deane Cameron President & Chief Executive Oﬃcer The Corporation of Massey Hall & Roy Thomson Hall
We graciously acknowledge the support we have received from individual donors, our corporate and foundation partners and all orders of government in helping us with the Massey Hall revitalization.
this hallowed h A brief history of Massey Hall’s ﬁrst 100 years. By Mary Dickie lmost every music lover in the Toronto area—and many beyond—has a favourite Massey Hall memory, whether it’s sitting in the front row looking up at Gordon Lightfoot singing the songs of their youth, or watching Solomon Burke fill the stage with singing, dancing, weeping audience members, or swearing they feel the walls vibrate along with their heart and bones as Aretha Franklin blasts “Ain’t No Way.” For some of us, it might even be the memory of singing “Land of the Silver Birch” onstage in a mass Toronto school choir for May Festival. Lightfoot himself first set foot on the stage of Massey Hall when he was 12 years old, when he won the Kiwanis Boys’ Voices competition.
Massey Hall occupies a unique place in Canadian culture. The stately Victorian edifice was the first—and, for three decades, the only—building in the country designed specifically for musical performances. For 123 years it has stood as a tower of culture amid the massive commercial development of downtown Toronto, just off the main thoroughfare of Yonge Street but seemingly miles away from its busy cacophony. Massey Hall was named a heritage site by the city in 1973 and a national historic site in 1981. Over its history it has hosted virtually every major musical artist of virtually every musical stripe, as well as actors, chess players, suffragettes, preachers, politicians and prizefighters. And it has always maintained its position as the ultimate venue for generations of musicians.
This hallowed hall
The storied concert hall owes its existence to Hart Massey, the extraordinarily successful Canadian industrialist who built his family’s small farm-implement business into the largest producer of agricultural machinery in the British Empire. The benefactor behind the Fred Victor Mission and the University of Toronto’s Hart House and Massey College, he was a devout Methodist and a music lover who served as vice-president of the Toronto Philharmonic Society; some of his early philanthropic efforts involved buying organs for churches and establishing music programs for his workers. Following the devastating death of his eldest son, Charles Albert, in 1884, of typhoid fever, Massey decided to build a music hall as a gift to the city, in honour of his piano-playing son and to encourage “an interest in music, education, temperance, industry, good citizenship, patriotism, philanthropy and religion.” He intended the Hall to be enjoyed not just by the city’s elite but also by less wealthy citizens, insisting that the ticket prices be affordable.
In 1892, Massey bought a parcel of land at the southwest corner of Shuter and Victoria Streets and enlisted Clevelandbased Canadian architect Sidney R. Badgley to design the Hall; it was built over the next two years for $150,000 under the supervision of local architect George M. Miller, whose other projects included the Gladstone Hotel and the Massey-Harris factory on King Street West. Massey’s daughter Lillian was instrumental in the decision to design the exterior in the simple neoclassical style, in contrast to the Moorish-revival flourishes inside.
1893 The cornerstone was laid in 1893 by Massey’s grandson Vincent, who later became the first Canadian-born governor general, and the Hall opened in June 1894, with a performance of Handel’s Messiah. The Massey Music Hall, as it was called until 1933, featured stained-glass windows, private boxes and tiered onstage seating; its capacity, currently 2,753, was originally 3,500, but it’s always felt like an intimate venue. Perhaps most important, the hall possessed remarkable acoustics; it was said that a word whispered onstage could be heard at the back of the balcony.
Massey Hall original deed, 1894
The opening of Massey Hall encouraged the blossoming of musical life in Toronto.
In 1895, it hosted the debut performance by the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and in 1906 it began presenting concerts by the first version of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra; from 1923 until 1982 it served as the TSOâ€™s permanent home.
Toronto Mendelssohn Choir
During the first few decades the Hall featured the worldâ€™s biggest musical stars, including opera singers Nellie Melba and Enrico Caruso (who performed on the exterior fire escape for the overflow crowd), as well as speeches by future British prime minister Winston Churchill, Canadian feminist Nellie McClung, African-American educator Booker T. Washington and suffragette Christabel Pankhurst, readings by German novelist Thomas Mann and British Empire chronicler Rudyard Kipling, and performances by British Shakespearean actor Ellen Terry and Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. Renowned Russian pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff performed at Massey Hall no fewer than 10 times, the first in 1899.
the brilliant Toronto musician and composer Sir Ernest MacMillan took over as conductor of the TSO, and helped bring both orchestra and hall into the modern era.
MacMillan, who had first performed at Massey Hall as a 10-year-old child prodigy, managed to attract renowned guest conductors like Sir Thomas Beecham and Igor Stravinsky to the hall, and introduced conservative Toronto audiences to 20th-century composers including Edward Elgar, Jean Sibelius, George Gershwin and Gustav Holst.
and entrance area and replacing wooden stairs with stone and steel. And, no doubt to the horror of Hart Massey’s ghost, a bar was installed on the third level. Meanwhile, the Hall continued to host important musical events.
But the Hall’s limitations were becoming increasingly problematic, especially the lack of backstage infrastructure like dressing rooms—especially problematic for the TSO and other large ensembles, who were relegated to the basement before a show. “To get my bass fiddle onto the stage,” one TSO member later told Massey Hall historian William Kilbourn, “I have to take it up three flights of stairs and through four doors.” “We live in a dungeon,” another TSO musician said. In 1917 the adjacent Albert Building had been connected to the main structure to help remedy the situation, but a more major renovation was needed, and in 1933 Toronto architects Mathers and Haldenby were hired to do an overhaul. The improvements included removing seating to create a new Art Deco lobby
two Canadian icons—Glenn Gould and Oscar Peterson—made their Massey Hall debuts within weeks of each other. But the most famous concert of all was Jazz at Massey Hall in 1953, the one and only time that jazz titans Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Max Roach and Bud Powell performed together. In the ’60s, the hall featured different musical stars, from Bob Dylan with The Band to Buffy Sainte-Marie, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, and the debut of Gordon Lightfoot, who holds the record for the greatest number of performances at Massey by an individual artist (as opposed to an ever-evolving institution like the TSO or the Mendelssohn Choir).
In the ’60s, with the Hall once again in need of repairs and upgrades, there was pressure to sell the land for redevelopment and build a replacement elsewhere. Massey Hall faced competition from new venues like the O’Keefe Centre (later known as the Hummingbird Centre, now the Sony Centre), which is still Canada’s largest soft-seat theatre. In 1972 it was announced that a new concert hall would be part of the massive Metro Hall development on King Street, and historians and activists worried at the prospect of Massey Hall being demolished. Eventually, the decision was made to allow Massey Hall to continue while the TSO moved to that new venue, Roy Thomson Hall, which opened in 1982. The orchestra’s absence by no means diminished the prestige of the original Hall, as the long and impressive list of Massey performers since then extends through the musical genres: U2, Harry Belafonte, Keith Richards, George Jones, Aretha Franklin, Tom Waits, the Red Army Chorus, Miles Davis, Céline Dion, Van Mor-
This hallowed hall
Bob Marley at Massey Hall, 1975
rison, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, The Tragically Hip, Leonard Cohen, Miriam Makeba, Japan’s Kodo drummers, Stompin’ Tom Connors and literally hundreds more—even Justin Bieber. In the past couple of years, the Live at Massey Hall series has also given newer Canadian musicians like Hidden Cameras, Shad, Tanya Tagaq and Owen Pallett the opportunity to play on the hallowed stage. Now, as it embarks on its biggest refurbishment yet, Massey Hall remains the pinnacle of success for musicians, the favourite venue of both audiences and performers and the most beloved musical institution in Canada.
Ahead by a Century Massey Hall gets some new skin for old ceremonies. By Michael Barclay
hey don’t call it the “Grand Old Lady of Shuter Street” for nothing. Massey Hall is coming up on its 125th anniversary. Part of its charm, of course, is that stepping inside is like entering another century. But there are challenges that come with that, challenges that can’t be staved off. That’s why Massey Hall is seizing on a unique, once-in-a-generation opportunity to make essential upgrades, to physically expand, and to solidify the venue’s role in Canadian music—not only its history, but its future.
When the City of Toronto first started designating Heritage Sites in 1973, Massey Hall was one of the first on the list. No wonder. Before Neil Young’s 2014 show at Massey, the Canadian musical legend was told of the coming renovations. That night he warned the crowd, “Don’t let them change this place.” Emotions run high with a beloved institution like Massey Hall, which is why the revitalization’s mandate is to improve everything in the Hall, while being careful not to change the unique character, look and feeling one gets from being there, preserving the special, intimate relationship between artist and audience that Massey Hall is known for is paramount. Some necessary changes are obvious to anyone who’s ever set foot inside. There are no elevators, which makes for a long haul up to the third-floor gallery, especially if you have mobility issues. A wire mesh has covered the ceiling since 1968. The stairwells are looking cracked. Most of the seats have not been replaced in 70 years. Bathroom lineups in the basement and the gallery can be frustrating. The venue is licensed throughout, however the two licensed areas— Centuries bar in the basement, and the balcony lounge—are often packed during intermission. (Centuries’ capacity is 175; the balcony lounge is 60. The venue seats 2,753.)
If you’re drinking on the balcony, you need to descend two flights of stairs to access the basement bathrooms. Oh, and the iconic sign out front and century-old stonework could use a little TLC. Surely even the most conservative, preservationist fan of Massey Hall would recognize all the above as problematic.
Ahead by a century
There are also necessary improvements that are all but invisible to the average patron. If you’ve ever walked down Shuter Street in the morning, you’ve likely seen production equipment being loaded in through the front door. That’s because unlike every major performing arts venue in North America, there is no backstage loading dock. The backstage dressing rooms are inadequate by modern standards. All mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure need significant upgrades. From day one, Massey Hall was meant to be an intimate hall—no seat is more than 27 metres from the stage—with amazing acoustics. That won’t change. The redesign’s primary purpose is to retain the character of Massey Hall, to make it even better at what it already is. Massey Hall’s first major renovation occurred in 1933, when a lobby entrance was created, the badly worn wooden stairs were replaced with stone and steel, a lounge was opened in the balcony, 900 seats were removed, and an Art Deco influence led to a new look for the lobby space. In a second major renovation in 1948, concrete was poured to form a new main-floor seating and stage area, for fire safety reasons and additional structural support. The last significant change was more than 20 years ago, when the Centuries bar opened in 1994, the year of the Hall’s centenary (hence the name). The impetus for the current revitalization came in 2012, when Tricon Capital and MOD Developments acquired a plot of land on Yonge Street that included the 1905 Bank of Commerce building, with plans to build a 60-storey condo building. The deed came with a 450-sq.-m back lot, located immediately behind Massey Hall, which was not necessary for the condo project. They graciously decided to transfer that part of the lot to Massey Hall. That led to talk about finally building a loading dock—and if the shovels were going to be ready anyway, why not launch a badly needed, full-blown revitalization project in time for the 125th anniversary in 2019?
Ahead by a century
And so: elevators will be installed in the new South Tower addition, making all levels accessible to those with mobility issues. The auditorium’s ceiling will be repaired. Seats will be replaced and sightlines improved. The exterior fire escapes will be removed and new patron exit routes will be built. There will be an elevated exterior ring of walkways built around the upper levels that will lead to more bars and bathrooms in the South Tower. Centuries will be expanded. The brick, stone and metalwork of the exterior will be cleaned and restored—as will the marquee sign, of course. One aspect of Massey Hall’s structure has been literally hidden from view for more than 100 years: the 73 exterior and 18 interior stained-glass windows—some of which are 16 feet tall—that run along either side of every level in the auditorium, in the attic and on the back wall of the gallery. Built in 1894, they were boarded up sometime in the first half-century, due to street noise. They have been largely unseen by the public since—until now (or, rather, soon).
e are committed to continually enhancing your experiences in our venues, whether on stage, behind the scenes or in the auditorium’s soon-to-be-restored seats. These walls hold countless stories from legendary years past, and your experiences in the Hall today are the stories that will be told for generations to come.”
– Deane Cameron President and CEO
The final aspect of the revitalization won’t be evident while you’re watching a show in the auditorium, but it will help Massey Hall stake its claim in the future, rather than just trading on its history. Integrated into the historical site, the new
Ahead by a century
The original stained-glass windows will be restored
South Tower will make Massey Hall a multi-use hub that houses education, film, archival and digital content creation throughout, with a focus on developing the next generation of great Canadian artists who will one day headline Massey Hall. There will be additional performance spaces, a learning environment for music and recording, exhibits and other elements that will enhance Massey Hall’s educational and community outreach programs. The first phase of the revitalization is already complete: demolition of the obsolete Albert Building and finishing the foundation for the South Tower. The second phase will begin in 2018, with Massey Hall planning to “go dark” for up to two years during work on the historic building and the construction of the South Tower. Sadly, that means there will be no performances during the 125th anniversary year. But the end result, to be revealed in autumn 2020, will be not only an improvement on a venue that the world knows and loves, but a realization of Massey Hall’s full potential as an engine of cultural vitality. Every great music city needs a prestige anchor venue, one that is widely recognized as the premier venue in town, the room that every local artist aims to fill one day, the space that every touring artist wants on their itinerary. Ideally, it’s also a venue that is not only an anchor in the community, but a catalyst: one not dependent
ere’s how the venue’s technology and architecture has evolved in the years since Massey Hall opened in 1894:
1894: The theatre is heated with steam boilers, and lit by gas lights. Temperature is controlled (somewhat) by operating a centrally controlled system of chimneys, dampers and roof vents. 1904: Fire escapes installed 1912: New plumbing and new electrical wiring installed 1917: Dressing rooms and offices added by joining to the adjacent Albert Building on its history but that uses it as a springboard, one that consistently innovates and engages the community and new generations of artists. Massey Hall is that venue, for both Toronto and Canada at large. With the changes under way, it’s about to start a whole new chapter that will ensure it’s at the forefront of the musical conversation.
ome of the renovations are more subtle than others; some will only be seen behind the scenes, in the new spaces created behind the theatre, or during the day. But here’s what you’ll most definitely notice at the first show you attend of the 2020 Massey Hall season:
• A restoration of the original sign • Elevators to the balcony and gallery • More bars, more bathrooms, fewer lineups • Restored stained-glass windows • New seating and improved sightlines • New roof
1933: New seating reduced from 3,500 to accommodate a new lounge on the balcony level and an enlarged entrance area; separate balcony and gallery stairwells created; stone and steel stairs installed. The original gallery seating remains untouched today. 1948: Concrete replaced the original wood construction of the stage and main floor 1955: Ceiling starts showing signs of wear 1968: Wire mesh covers the ceiling as a precaution 1989: Air conditioning installed, as a condition of the musical Cats being staged for a seven-month run 1993: The original copper nails on the roof were estimated to have a 100-year lifespan; on cue, slate tiles start falling to the sidewalk, necessitating a temporary barrier; the original slate roof was removed and replaced with asphalt shingles. 1994: Centuries bar opens in the basement, together with new banks of washrooms; previously, that space had been used for rehearsals and meetings
Ahead by a century
Historic Halls of North America How does Massey Hall compare?
NAME: Walnut Street Theatre CITY: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania OPENED: 1809 CAPACITY: 1,054
The oldest continuously operating theatre in North America, focusing primarily on drama, it was the first to install gas footlights (1837) and air conditioning (1855). Itâ€™s also rumoured to be the site of the first curtain call.
NAME: St. Lawrence Hall CITY: Toronto, Ontario OPENED: 1850 CAPACITY: 1,000
A community hub and performance space preceding Massey Hall, it fell into disrepair and disuse for much of the 20th century before being designated a National Historic Site in 1967.
NAME: Grand Opera House CITY: Macon, Georgia OPENED: 1884 CAPACITY: 2,418
In 1908 it staged a production of Ben Hur with real horses and chariots, on a treadmill. It was reduced to a movie house for 30 years before extensive renovations began in the late 1960s.
CITY: New York City OPENED: 1891 CAPACITY: 2,804
CITY: Toronto, Ontario OPENED: 1894 CAPACITY: 2,753
Like Massey Hall, Carnegie Hall was built by a philanthropic industrialist, and its history is synonymous with the evolution of a city and the musical history of a country. Like Massey, it was threatened with demolition in the 1960s. It was renovated extensively in advance of its centenary in 1991 and today retains its place as the most prestigious venue in the U.S.
Historic halls of North America
(reduced from original 3,500 in 1933)
This is the longest continually operating performing arts centre in Canada, and second only to Carnegie Hall as the largest of its age in North America.
NAME: Royal Alexandra Theatre CITY: Toronto, Ontario OPENED: 1907 CAPACITY: 1,497
The oldest continuously operating theatre in Canada to focus primarily on drama, it was scheduled for demolition in the early 1960s before it was bought by Ed Mirvish.
NAME: Royal Theatre CITY: Victoria, B.C. OPENED: 1913 CAPACITY: 1,416
Originally a performing arts centre that hosted the likes of Sarah Bernhardt, it was a movie theatre from 1930-72, and is now home to the Victoria Symphony.
NAME: Imperial Theatre CITY: Saint John, N.B. OPENED: 1913 CAPACITY: 908 (reduced from original 1,500)
A vaudeville theatre turned movie house, it served as a gospel church from 1957 to 1982 and officially reopened in 1994.
NAME: Théâtre St-Denis CITY: Montreal, Quebec OPENED: 1916 CAPACITY: 2,218 (St-Denis 1), 933 (St-Denis 2)
Multi-purpose venue showcasing Frenchlanguage performing arts. A second hall was added in 1963.
NAME: Kodak Hall at Eastman Theater CITY: Rochester, N.Y. OPENED: 1922 CAPACITY: 2,400
Built by the founder of Kodak on the University of Rochester campus, this was built for music, dance and silent films. Today it’s used primarily for student performances.
(originally 3,352 before renovations)
Opened as a movie theatre and vaudeville house, it’s the current home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
NAME: Orpheum Theatre CITY: Vancouver, B.C. OPENED: 1927 CAPACITY: 2,688
Fixing up the Tower of Song Preserving the past with an eye to the future. By Jamie Bradburn ix everything, change nothing.” For architect Marianne McKenna and those working on bringing Massey Hall into the 21st century, this sentiment reflects the balance of improving the facility and respecting its heritage elements and the memories accompanying them. The end result, she hopes, is a multipurpose facility whose feel is authentic rather than artifice.
While elements such as the plaster ceiling and Moorish-style arches will be restored, the character and patina the hall developed over the past 125 years will remain intact. “We should be wary not to clean it up too much,” McKenna notes. Architect Marianne McKenna
“It will be a sensitive, strategic revitalization of the hall,” McKenna says. “We’re upgrading for the long term in terms of its technical upgrades, opening the stained glass windows, repairing and reinstating lighting where it should be rather than where it went expeditiously, and making it functional for the next generation.”
experience that patrons have come to expect in the auditorium.
A recipient of the Order of Canada and a founding partner of KPMB, McKenna’s work in Toronto’s performance sector includes two venues at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Ettore Mazzoleni Hall and Koerner Hall. She found many comparable qualities between Koerner and Massey, from seat spacing to the reciprocal enjoyment of audience and performers. McKenna discovered that “many things we were able to achieve at Koerner Hall actually already exist at Massey Hall.” Though Massey has earned a reputation as a great performance space, McKenna has worked along with world-class acousticians and sound engineering consultants, to find areas to improve upon the acoustical experience for those on stage while maintaining the exceptional aural
elevators and additional bars and bathrooms will improve the overall Massey Hall experience. Aesthetically, those walkways will act, McKenna says, as “arms that reach out and hold the original heritage building.” As she told the Globe and Mail recently, “The movement through a building is as important as the spaces within them.”
Architect Marianne McKenna
Patrons should be impressed by the new look at the entrance, including a more accessible box office area and the restoration of the original front signage. External walkways wrapped around the second and third levels will connect patrons to the new south tower, where
McKenna thinks the revitalization project will bring a new buzz to the site. “Massey Hall presents itself very honestly,” she observes. “What we get to do by adding the new building is make that room work for the 21st century.” She hopes that with more options to hold events like lectures and public meetings, the revisions will restore its past role as “a town hall in the middle of downtown.”
building bridges Education has always been—and always will be— part of Massey Hall’s core mandate. or much of the first 60 years of its history, Massey Hall was a community hub as much as it was a concert theatre. Sure, it was the home to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, and it was the venue of choice for international acts making a local stop. But it was also the premier stage for local performing groups and ethnic communities, whether it was a “Sons of Scotland concert,” a Ukraine bandurist group, a Korean children’s choir, or a “calypso fiesta.” (Reading more than a century’s worth of show listings at Massey Hall also reveals Toronto’s changing demographics over the decades). St. Michael’s Choir School and the Toronto District School Board have long histories of Christmas and spring concerts at Massey Hall; generations of Toronto children have stood on Massey’s historic stage either with their school or a youth group, including the Toronto Youth Symphony.
In Hart Massey’s deed of gift to the venue’s trustees back in 1894, the industrialist decreed that Massey Hall be available for the “musical, educational and industrial advancement of the people, the cultivation of good citizenship and patriotism, the promotion of philanthropy, religion and temperance, and for holding meetings and entertainments consistent with any of the above purposes.”
As Toronto grew and more venues were built— of various sizes and purposes, some geared toward specific audiences—Massey Hall evolved into primarily a home for marquee acts both national and international; renting the hall became more expensive. But Massey Hall’s commitment to education never waned; in 1999 it started the Share the Music program, bringing Sharing the music
the hope is that many of them take the inspiration found that day and manifest it in their own lives and future careers.
students from the GTA to selected shows and often pre-show talks and workshops that illuminated that evening’s program. Since its inception in 1999, Share the Music has provided free tickets to 22,000 guests (students and their teachers and some parents) to events at Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall. In the last year alone, Share the Music hosted 29 different schools and 21 community music groups for 14 concerts. Those shows include not just classical performances by the likes of Pinchas Zukerman, Yundi and Steve Reich, but jazz shows like The Bad Plus with Joshua Redman, avant-garde shows like Tanya Tagaq, rock shows like Classic Albums Live playing the Beatles, and shows by artists focusing on flamenco, blues, folk, and the Creole Carnival tour featuring artists from Haiti, Jamaica and Brazil—all of which represent the diversity of Massey Hall’s programming, and Toronto itself. In addition to seeing the shows, students were often treated to preshow workshops with local artists operating in the same traditions. Sometimes, as was the case with Wynton Marsalis or Bobby McFerrin, the headlining artists themselves answered the students’ questions. The music is demystified for the curious youth;
Sharing the music
With Massey Hall’s revitalization project, space is being allocated for similar educational and community events that would expand on Massey’s educational mandate, not a special occasion roughly once a month, and not focused entirely on youth, either: it will be a place to spark creativity in all ages. Shows could be programmed in a smaller event space inside Massey; talks and workshops could focus on the science and social benefits of music and performance. The Hall’s archives will be on display and audio tours of the building will be available, which will allow audiences to hear the history of the space come alive while walking through the venue. Partnerships with similar institutions outside the city and local academia could expand the offerings further. Meanwhile, the team at Massey Hall will continue to bring their mission outside of the hall’s walls and into schools, workplaces and communities. Massey Hall is a non-profit organization: it’s not an academic institution, nor are its operating costs publicly funded, and—although the Toronto Symphony Orchestra calls Roy Thomson Hall home—Massey itself doesn’t have a resident company, nor does it program only one kind of music. All of this, combined with the unique position it has in the city’s consciousness and history, positions the venue to play an innovative and exciting role in inspiring new audiences to participate in the next generation of song. Even if they don’t: the social and intellectual function of music facilitates a more engaged and empathetic populace—just like Hart Massey envisioned almost 125 years ago. Everybody has a story with Massey. Soon there will be so many more.
Caught in the act assey Hall has been home to more than a dozen officially released live recordings, some of which are considered landmarks in the artist’s career (Rush, Neil Young)—or in the history of an entire genre (Jazz at Massey Hall). Two artists boasting storied histories with the Hall have recorded live albums there twice: Gordon Lightfoot, of course (1969’s Sunday Concert, 2012’s All Live), and Blue Rodeo (2008’s Blue Road and 2015’s Live at Massey Hall). Everyone from Tears for Fears to Mark Knopfler to Justin Bieber to Keith Richards has recorded promo material there. Both Canadian prog rock band Christmas and prog pioneers King Crimson released recordings made at Massey (in 1971 and 1974, respectively), as have songwriters Valdy (Family Gathering, 1974), Burton Cummings (2012), Matthew Good (2008) and Pavlo (2007). Here are some career-defining moments that went on to become landmark recordings:
1. The Quintet – Jazz at Massey Hall (1953) Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell, Max Roach: five jazz giants assembled for one night only, at the invitation of some Toronto fans who failed to promote the show properly—the Hall was half-full—and cut their heroes cheques that would soon bounce. Mingus had recorded the gig, and released the tapes as three EPs that have since been endlessly remastered, repackaged, and eventually inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. 2. Neil Young – Live at Massey Hall 1971 (released 2007) Young’s long-time producer, David Briggs, liked the tapes of this concert so much that he didn’t want to bother heading into the studio to make what would eventually become the Harvest album. Young sat on the tapes for 36 years; when it was finally released, it hit #1 on the Canadian charts. In 2011, director Jonathan Demme captured a Massey Hall show for the film Neil Young: Journeys. 3. Chuck Mangione – Land of Make Believe (1973) The flugelhorn player from across the lake in Rochester, N.Y., had an earlier live album nominated for a Grammy. He recorded this live album at Massey with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra; the 12-minute title track, featuring vocals by Esther Satterfield, became one of his most popular songs. Caught in the act
4. Bruce Cockburn – Circles in the Stream (1977) The best live albums mark a transition in an artist’s career. In 1977, Cockburn had released seven records in seven years, his latest one being a shift toward jazzier terrain. This record captures Cockburn as his meditative, mystical best. 5. Rush – All the World’s a Stage (1976) Playing Massey Hall was a huge hometown coup for the Toronto trio; Geddy Lee had a life-changing experience as a teenager seeing Cream there. By June 1976, Rush had recorded three albums in 18 months, and wanted to capture their momentum in a double-live album that, 41 years later, is still the most raucous and raw Rush has ever sounded. It also marked the first time one of their albums cracked the American Top 40, and eventually sold more than a million copies. 6. Ronnie Hawkins – Let it Rock (1995) The man who played a crucial role in transforming Yonge Street into a rock’n’roll mecca celebrated his 60th birthday at Massey Hall, with guests including his former protégés The Band and legendary peers like Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. Jeff Healey and Larry Gowan sat in on the monumental occasion in Toronto music history. 7. Herbie Hancock, Michael Brecker, Roy Hargrove – Directions in Music (2001, released 2002) Herbie Hancock has graced the stage of Massey Hall many times, but this time he brought veteran saxophonist Brecker and young trumpeter Hargrove along for a program paying tribute to Miles Davis and John Coltrane. The album won a Grammy in 2003 for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. 8. “Weird Al” Yankovic – The Alpocalypse Tour (2011) Funnyman Yankovic takes his work extremely seriously, which is evident in the calibre of his band, the production values of his live show, and the fact he chose to shoot his second concert film at Massey. 9. Bry Webb – Live at Massey Hall (2015) Recorded as part of the Live at Massey Hall series, this subdued document by the Constantines frontman finds his sparse solo material resonating with the echoes of the great songwriters who have stood on Massey’s stage before him. 10. Russell Peters – Almost Famous (2016) Of all the legendary comedians to have ever emerged from the Greater Toronto Area, Brampton’s Russell Peters is the only native son to sell out the Air Canada Centre—several times. For his fifth concert film, however, he set up shop in the cultural centre of old Canada to satirize the cultural landscape of new Canada.
20 Caught in the act
Such a night Cœur de pirate
eatrice Martin, a.k.a. Cœur de pirate, has played plenty of large venues in her life, mostly in Quebec and France, where she’s sold hundreds of thousands of records. Yet even for a star of her international stature, her May 31, 2014 date headlining Massey Hall, the most historic English-Canadian concert venue in Canada, was a big deal: hence the genuine tears of joy she could be seen fighting back as a sold-out crowd gave her a deafening standing ovation.
Similarly memorable moments happened during other gigs in the Live at Massey Hall series, launched in 2014 and featuring Basia Bulat, Shad, Bahamas, Half Moon Run and many more. Each night there is electricity in the air. Each night, it is more than obvious this isn’t just another stop on the artist’s tour itinerary: this is a career-defining moment, one in which audiences feel just as invested as the performers. Tickets for the Live at Massey Hall series start at the symbolic price of $18.94, a nod to the year the venue opened—and also well within the budget of newer fans. Most important, every show in the series—both the headliner and the opener—is recorded, filmed and edited into a series of 30-minute concert films (in classic black-and-white), capturing the thrill of live performance and the intimacy of behind-the-scenes access,
to be broadcast online at a later date. It’s almost as good as being there—almost. Fans of the artists—not just in Toronto, but across North America and abroad—get to see them perform in one of the loveliest venues in Canada. The artists themselves get a gorgeous snapshot of a pivotal moment in their development, one they can use as a calling card for decades to come. To date, the 16 films posted at liveatmasseyhall.com have virtually welcomed hundreds of thousands of music fans Live at Massey Hall
into Massey Hall; data reveals that viewers realize these aren’t just standard live videos, and that they're worth much more than a quick click-through. Ten more will be posted this spring, from Hidden Cameras, Chilly Gonzales, Tanya Tagaq, Peaches, Owen Pallett, Alejandra Ribera, Rheostatics, Bahamas, the Weather Station, Amelia Curran and others.
ew ideas must use old buildings,” goes the famous aphorism by Jane Jacobs. With that in mind, Massey Hall has made a conscious effort to adapt its mandate for the 21st century, expanding the concert experience beyond the walls of the hall itself. It began in 2014 with the Live at Massey Hall series, clips of which were used to promote album launches (Tanya Tagaq’s Retribution), new singles (Hidden Cameras’ “Counting Stars”) or play an integral role in documentaries (Spirit of the West’s Spirit Unforgettable). In recent years, podcasts and live sessions have also enhanced Massey Hall’s commitment to the next generation of Canadian songwriters. Part of the expanded Massey Hall revitalization project will include media production facilities, where these projects, and others like them, can be produced entirely inhouse, and to which artists who are part of Massey’s development program will have access. From its inception, Massey Hall was intended as a community space. There will never be a substitute for experiencing the physical space, but music fans the world over are now invited into the Massey community.
Live at Massey Hall
Artists are chosen for the series for a reason. It could be they’re finally at the point in their career where they could fill Massey Hall, and getting the bit of extra push from this series guarantees them a sell-out. It could be they’re almost at that point but operating outside the mainstream, and participating in the series accelerates their journey to headliner status. It could be that they’re veteran performers looking to document their final moments or mark a triumphant rebirth. The opening acts are performers who Massey Hall’s programmers believe are some of the best Canadian songwriters working today. When the lights illuminate the upper reaches of the gallery during the Live at Massey Hall shows, you can see the faces who really made the gig happen: the fans who were there in those tiny clubs at the beginning, the fans who helped spread word of mouth, the fans who feel a vicarious victory watching this gig happen. That moment is now captured routinely in each of the Live at Massey Hall films. Many artists, when they play their first large venue, have been known to snap pictures of the crowd from the stage, preserving for posterity the moment they first felt they arrived. Or they ask the crew to turn on all the house lights so they can bask in the magnitude of their appeal. At the very first show of the Live at Massey Hall series, Timber Timbre’s Taylor Kirk had a different tack: at one point in the set, he asked that all the lights be turned off. He then performed solo in the dark, his voice echoing through the hallowed, if not haunted, hall. It was as intimate as Massey Hall has ever felt in its almost 125-year history.
n the old music industry model, roles were more clearly defined. Artists created art. Managers managed. Record labels pressed records, publicized them and put them in stores. Booking agents booked shows. Promoters and venues made the shows happen.
These days? It takes a village, as they say, and a team that works together. As the industry has evolved and faced existential challenges, everyone needs all the help they can get—especially new artists attempting to squeeze through the door separating their niche audience from a more mainstream one. With so much digital noise competing for attention, the competition is fierce. One way to break through the static is as old-fashioned as it gets: in person. Audiences still crave the combination of spectacle and intimacy that comes with the shared experience of witnessing music come to life—and if that happens in a space with the history and acoustics of Massey Hall, all the better. There is no shortage of veteran acts who can fill theatres time and time again. But without new artists to fill those same venues, the future would be grim. From day one, Massey Hall was meant to be more than just a venue. Founder Hart Massey cited “education, good citizenship, patriotism and philanthropy” as part of his vision for the hall at its opening in 1894. So it’s perfectly in keeping with that mission that the current staff at Massey decided to tackle the current problem head-on, by playing a more active role in artist development. For years, they’ve promoted shows at smaller venues, featuring artists that could and should one day headline Massey Hall. So far, that goal has been realized by the likes of Whitehorse, Matt Andersen and Jill Barber, all of whom received nurturing nudges from Massey Hall long before they even stepped foot on its stage. Now Massey Hall is taking its artist development even further, scouting out young Canadian artists long before they get any kind of mainstream coverage, and helping In photo: LZL
Next gen Investing in future voices
them form long-term career strategies in the new musical ecosystem. Liz Loughrey, a.k.a. LZL, is a Toronto artist in her early 20s who garnered a whopping three million views on her YouTube channel, but it was with Massey Hall’s help that she was put on stage in front of an unsuspecting crowd of thousands at Yonge and Dundas Square, where she put on a star-making performance. Her Spotify hit “Rise Up,” with its theme of youth empowerment, led to LZL hosting workshops for Grade 7 and 8 students, with the help of Massey Hall’s educational outreach programs. Meanwhile, the ghostly and groundbreaking alt-folk act Mappe Of had never even played a live show before they were discovered by a local record label via a Bandcamp page. Now, with Massey Hall’s help, the band has crafted a professional media package in advance of their debut album, including a gorgeous video shot on stage in an empty Massey Hall, part of the new Massey Hall Ghost Light Sessions. Perennial favourites like Gordon Lightfoot and Blue Rodeo have helped define the last 50 years of Massey Hall history—but for reasons that should be more than obvious, they are not the future. Who is, exactly? Well, rather than sitting around and waiting to find out, Massey Hall itself is helping write that future and ensure that the kids are all right. The next generation
Recent recollections The long and storied history of Massey Hall usually tells the same tales of Enrico Caruso, Charlie Parker, Gordon Lightfoot, Rush and Blue Rodeo. But more recent Massey Hall shows are just as historic and legendary in the minds of today’s music fans, so here’s a look at some of the top 10 gigs of the last 20 years in Massey Hall history. Morrissey (1997) After a raucous set that included the live debut of a 10-year-old Smiths song, Morrissey was mobbed by fans during the encore —and was then himself mistaken for a fan by security, who ushered the star offstage mid-song, to the sound of loud booing. Afro-Cuban All-Stars (1998) In the wake of the massive (and massively unexpected) 1997 success of the Buena Vista Social Club, this offshoot made their Toronto debut at Massey Hall. The Globe and Mail’s Robert Everett-Green wrote, “The solos seemed to reach higher and higher with every riff, pulling the audience up a ladder that most of us would not know how to find by ourselves, much less climb.” The Flaming Lips (2002) Beck was the headliner, but had brought the Flaming Lips along not only as opening act but as his backing band. The Lips had not played a proper Toronto show in years; many in the audience were there just to see them, greeting the band with a prolonged standing ovation the second they took the stage—unusual for any opening act. But three songs in, their elaborate video and sequencing set-up was unplugged by one of the dozen strangers on stage who they had recruited to dress up in stuffed-animal costumes. The Lips recovered by playing four songs acoustically, giving Toronto audiences a Flaming Lips show like no other. Prince (2002) Shortly after marrying Torontonian Manuela Testolini, Prince asked a sold-out Massey Hall crowd, “Y’all want me to buy a house here?” (He soon did, on the Bridle Path.) Plugging his jazz project The Rainbow Children, featuring James Brown saxophonist Maceo Parker, Prince threatened not to play any of his hits. But he did, as well as a Sly Stone cover and a guest spot from Toronto soul singer Glenn Lewis. Prince lept into the crowd and Parker played on the balcony during the three-hour show—which included a 75-minute encore, of course. Ron Sexsmith (2006) For his entire adult life, the Toronto songwriter has made sure to attend one of the annual shows by his hero, Gordon Lightfoot. As Sexsmith’s own star began to rise in the late 1990s, he received many offers to play Massey as an opening act. He refused: if he was going to play Massey, he reckoned, he’d rather wait until he could headline. In 2006, that dream came true, and his hometown crowd gave him an instant standing ovation.
24 Memorable moments
Arcade Fire (2007) This Montreal group was the hottest new rock act of the decade, and could easily have played Air Canada Centre after the breakthrough success of 2004’s Funeral—which would later top many album-of-thedecade lists—and anticipation for the new Neon Bible. Instead, they set up at Massey Hall for three nights and shook the building to its foundation. Adele (2009) At her third sold-out Toronto show in just over a year, promoting her debut album, the then-20-year-old British superstar wowed the Massey crowd with her voice, if not necessarily her apparel. “I sleep in this jumper,” she joked, of the outfit that the Toronto Sun’s Jane Stevenson described as a “very casual outfit of oversized black-and-white-striped sweater and black tights.” The singer quipped, “Oh my God, I'm wearing my f---ing pajamas.” Joni Mitchell (2013) The legend had not toured since 2000, but showed up to a 70th birthday tribute—featuring Rufus Wainwright, Kathleen Edwards, Cold Specks and others—as part of the Luminato Festival. No one expected the ailing singer to take the stage, but she did just that by kicking off her shoes and saying, “I wasn't sure if I could sing tonight. I'm still not sure, but I'm going to try.” She read a new poem before leading the band on “Furry Sings the Blues,” “Don’t Interrupt the Sorrow” and “Woodstock.” She has not performed on stage since, and her health woes have continued; that night at Massey may well have been the last performance of her storied career. Dream Serenade (2014) Toronto songwriter Hayden Desser once played Neil Young’s annual Bridge School benefit in California, benefiting children with physical and speech impediments—including Young’s own children. Twenty years later, when Hayden’s own developmentally disabled child started attending the Beverly School in Toronto, he wanted to follow Young’s example and rally musical friends to fundraise for the cause. The first annual Dream Serenade—featuring Barenaked Ladies, Billy Talent, Feist, Sarah Harmer, members of The National and others—set a high bar for the years to come. Steve Reich (2016) The pioneering minimalist composer played his first concert of his 80th year at Massey Hall, performing groundbreaking works like “Clapping Music” and “Music for 18 Musicians,” joined by his old friend (and University of Toronto professor) Russell Hartenberger and other local musicians. The Toronto Star reported that “patrons were seen leaning over the railings in the upper balcony with rapt amazement,” while Exclaim! raved that the show was a “thrilling, perception-altering way to hear an already formative piece of music from a living legend.”
Legendary lions T of Massey Hall
o paraphrase Smokey Robinson: we’ve really got a hold on them. Certain performers delight in returning to Massey Hall again and again. Massey Hall Honours recipients Gordon Lightfoot and Blue Rodeo are the obvious examples, as is the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (more than 1,000 appearances), for whom Massey was their primary venue until the construction of Roy Thomson Hall in 1982. Likewise, institutions like the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir (more than 120 times), the Salvation Army Band and the Vienna Boys Choir often played Massey Hall more than once a year during the first 100 years of the Hall’s history. Children’s entertainers Sharon, Lois & Bram would routinely book the hall for a week at a time for most of the ’80s and ’90s. Newer acts like The National, Feist and Sigur Ros have returned numerous times in the last 15 years. The Broadway musical Cats also commandeered Massey Hall for seven straight months in 1989. Here are the 22 performers who returned to Massey time and time again. (Numbers include multi-night runs; classical musicians appeared both as a featured performer with the TSO and solo.)
Gordon Lightfoot: 160 Sharon, Lois & Bram: 47 Blue Rodeo: 32 Nana Mouskouri: 25 Jann Arden: 24 Pinchas Zukerman: 25 Vladimir Ashkenazy: 24 Roger Whittaker: 20 Isaac Stern: 19 Andre Segovia: 17 Yehudi Menuhin: 17 Barenaked Ladies: 17
Bruce Cockburn: 16 Diana Krall: 11 Neil Young: 10 Sergei Rachmaninoff: 10 (first in 1899) Pete Seeger: 10 Bryan Ferry: 10 (4 with Roxy Music, 6 solo) Lou Reed: 9 The Tragically Hip: 9 Ella Fitzgerald: 8 Oscar Peterson: 6
Speaking out Though known as a music venue, Massey Hall has held all manner of community events, political rallies and before the construction of Maple Leaf Gardens was Toronto’s primary venue for boxing matches. Memorial services for the victims of the Titanic (1912) and CBC broadcaster Barbara Frum (1992) were held there. A mass influenza vaccination took place inside Massey at the height of the deadly 1919 outbreak. Isadora Duncan danced there (1909). Six Nations athlete Tom Longboat held his wedding reception there (1908). Polar explorers Ernest Shackleton and Roald Amundsen regaled with tales of their adventures (1910, 1911). Helen Keller made an appearance (1914). (She didn’t speak, but uttered an “awesome, throaty cry of defiance,” according to one author.) Buster Keaton and the Marx Brothers appeared as part of vaudeville acts, before they were film stars. Here are some notable speakers:
Comedians: Bob Newhart Dick Gregory Smothers Brothers Lily Tomlin Cheech and Chong Rodney Dangerfield Jerry Seinfeld Robin Williams Billy Crystal Sam Kinison Chris Rock
Speakers: Ellen DeGeneres Billy Connolly Margaret Cho Kids in the Hall Craig Ferguson Russell Peters Dave Chappelle Amy Schumer Jim Gaffigan Louis C.K.
Prince of Wales 1919 (King Edward VIII) Booker T. Washington Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Winston Churchill Bertrand Russell Rudyard Kipling Clarence Darrow Eleanor Roosevelt Stefan Zweig
Will Rogers Dr. Benjamin Spock Robertson Davies Jane Goodall Lech Walesa Oliver Stone Dalai Lama Naomi Klein Noam Chomsky Aga Khan David Suzuki
Main entrance, exterior, Massey Hall. Photo Credit: Richard Beland, 2008
Massey Hall empty auditorium with guitar amp and microphone. Photo credit: Jag Gundu, 2017
Massey Hall stage and private boxes photograph courtesy of Toronto Public Library. Media Source: B.W. Kilburn, 1894. Massey Hall exterior photograph from the MH-RTH Archive, c. 1900. Massey Hall original deed from the MH-RTH Archive, June 5, 1894.
Enrico Caruso Portrait courtesy of the Library of Congress. Media Source: Laveccha Studio, 1910. Ernest MacMillan as a child at Massey Hall. Media Source: MacMillan Family Collection, 1904. George Gershwin at Massey Hall advertisement from the MH-RTH Archive, 1934. “The Greatest Jazz Concert Ever” poster from the MH-RTH Archive, 1953. “Jeers, Cheers for Dylan” article. Media Source: Telegram, November 15, 1965. The Mendelssohn Choir photograph courtesy of Toronto Public Library, 1911. Toronto Symphony Orchestra program cover, c.1950 from the MH-RTH Archive
Massey Hall interior with chandelier, view from stage with piano. Media Source: National Archives of Canada, 1894 Bob Marley. Photo Credit: Isobel Harry, 1975 Front facade, exterior view, Massey Hall. Photo Credit: Richard Beland, 2008
Centuries Bar & Lounge, Massey Hall photograph from the MH-RTH Archive Massey Hall sign photograph from the MH-RTH Archive
Stained glass, stairwell, Massey Hall photograph from the MH-RTH Archive Details of stained glass windows photograph from the MH-RTH Archive
Views of the auditorium, Massey Hall. Photo Credit: Brent Kitagawa Marianne McKenna, KPMB Architects
Massey Hall rendering from KPMB Architects Playing hockey sticks photograph from the MH-RTH Archive
Bobby Meets Canada: Toronto! Photo Credit: Malcolm Cook, 2015 Bry Webb of Constantines. Photo Credit: Malcolm Cook, 2015
Live at Massey Hall, Coeur de pirate. Photo Credit: Mitch Fillion, 2014 Live at Massey Hall, Bahamas poster. Design: Jud Haynes, 2015
Live at Massey Hall, Shad. Photo Credit: Malcolm Cook, 2015 Liz Loughrey. Photo Credit: Mark Wilson, 2016
Adele. Photo Credit: Patti Hinton, 2009 Arcade Fire. Photo Credit: Lucia Graca Remedios/Analogue Gallery, 2007 Morrissey. Photo Credit: David Andrew Scott, 1997 Joni Mitchell. Photo Credit: Malcolm Cook, 2013 Dream Serenade. Photo Credit: Malcolm Cook, 2014 Steve Reich. Photo Credit: Trevor Haldenby, 2016
Promotional photo of Gordon Lightfoot backstage at Massey Hall. Photo Credit: Lorne Bridgman, 2009
Live at Massey Hall, Great Lake Swimmers and The Rural Alberta Advantage. Photo Credit: Mitch Fillion, 2014
Editorial director and senior writer: Michael Barclay · Contributing writers: Mary Dickie, Jamie Bradburn Photo assistance: Della Rollins
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