LAST LOOK AT OLD MASSEY HALL
Fabled concert venue marks its 124th birthday with star-studded show before it closes for 2-year ‘revitalization’
It’s Massey Hall Day, Toronto. Raise a glass.
The most fabled of Toronto’s many fabled performance venues celebrates its 124th birthday Thursday with an evening of music provided by such Cancon leading lights as Jim Cuddy, Sarah Harmer, Buffy Saintemarie, Sam Roberts and Whitehorse, and Mayor John Tory has officially proclaimed June 14 Massey Hall Day in its honour.
The evening’s star-studded shindig will be a somewhat bittersweet occasion, however, as the venue will go dark early next month until the fall of 2020, while its interior and exterior get a thorough makeover and its overall footprint is expanded to take in a brand-new, seven-storey tower — to the immediate south of its longtime perch on Shuter St. — Star music critic Ben Rayner, left, with Massey Foundation's president Deane Cameron as he gives a tour of Massey Hall.
that will include a new, 500capacity secondary live venue on its fourth floor. After a run of three shows by living local legend Gordon Lightfoot on June 29, June 30 and July 1 and a final staff party on July 3, that’s it. No Massey Hall for two years. The mind boggles.
“Honestly, I’m trying to avoid thinking about it too much since we still have so much work to do in this last stretch,” says Jesse Kumagai,
director of programming, marketing and business development for the Massey Hall/roy Thomson Hall corporation. “Despite that, you inevitably end up talking about it and I’d be lying if I said a few tears haven’t already been shed around the office. But we all know this renovation needs to happen, that this work is going to mean Massey Hall will be here for future generations and that it’s so very well deserved
after 124 years as the hardest-working concert hall in Canada.”
The scale of the $142-million Massey “revitalization,” as its overseers have been calling it, is daunting. But if all goes as planned, the results promise to be genuinely breathtaking.