LAST LOOK AT OLD MASSEY HALL

Fa­bled con­cert venue marks its 124th birth­day with star-stud­ded show be­fore it closes for 2-year ‘re­vi­tal­iza­tion’

StarMetro Toronto - - TORONTO - Ben Rayner

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.

CAR­LOS OSO­RIO/TORONTO STAR

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