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LISZTS | Top Five Classical Music Venues In Toronto

By Michael Vincent on March 18, 2016

Toronto has a lot of great concert venues, and for classical music lovers, it’s a mecca for some of the best music and musicians in the world. We’ve narrowed down what we think are the top five classical concert venues in Toronto based on acoustics, sight-lines, ambiance, location, comfort and amenities.

1: Koerner Hall

Koerner Concert Hall; Left (Photo: Tom Arban) Right (Photo: Eduard Hueber)
Koerner Concert Hall; Left (Photo: Tom Arban) Right (Photo: Eduard Hueber)

Capacity: 1135 seats

Address: 273 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1V6 (Map)

Best Seats: Middle centre (AA)

Worst Seats: Second Balcony Rear, Frond Row Orchestra

Pros: Best acoustics anywhere. Bathrooms are clean and beautiful.  Can accommodate both orchestras and solo recitals with ease.

Cons: Lobby seating is limited. Concessions are expensive and line-ups long. Parking is limited. Will-call area can get crowded.

Our top choice goes to Koerner Hall. The 1135-seat shoe-box style hall was designed and built in 2009 by KPMB Architects to provide an incredibly intimate listening experience no matter where you sit. The hall features is a twisting oak ribbon that seamlessly extends from the back of the stage up through to the floating canopy on the ceiling. The seats are clean and comfortable, and patrons can easily handle a two-hour-long concert without discomfort. The hall is attached to the Royal Conservatory of Music, and includes three levels of lobbies overlooking picturesque Philosopher’s Walk. There is a café on the ground floor that serves a mean espresso and a respectable sandwich. The hall is lined with a million dollar collection of rare antique musical instruments donated by the Koerner family.

2: The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (R. Fraser Elliott Hall)

The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (R. Fraser Elliott Hall) (Photo via the COC)
The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (R. Fraser Elliott Hall) (Photo via the COC)

Capacity: 2,071

Address: 145 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5H 4G1 (Map)

Best Seats: Grand Ring (2A)

Worst Seats: Ring 5, Orchestra Front Sides (AA)

Pros: Central Location. Good concessions. Beautiful space. Close to public transportation. Spacious lobby.

Cons: Elevators to underground subways and parking get crowded. Concessions are expensive.

The Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts is the home of the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. The venue opened on 14 June 2006, and was acoustically designed by Sound Space Design Ltd (Robert Essert). With its proximity to Queen Street, city noise was a major concern but once inside you can hear a pin drop. The horseshoe-shaped auditorium includes design elements from traditional European opera houses and performance halls including the Roman Amphitheatre. The interior decor strikes a rare balance between acoustic design and unobstructed views. Fewer than one-quarter of the seats are further than 30 m (98 ft) from centre stage.

3: Roy Thomson Hall

Roy Thomson Hall (Photo: Engineering Harmonics)
Roy Thomson Hall (Photo: Engineering Harmonics)

Capacity: 2,630

Address: Map of 60 Simcoe St, Toronto, ON M5J 2H5 (Map)

Best Seats: Mezzanine above the main floor C3 section.

Worst Seats: Choir Loft, Frond Row Orchestra

Pros: Underground parking, and access to subway. Location. Lots of pre-and post-concert events. Quick and efficient ticket window.

Cons: Washrooms are difficult to find. Concessions have long line-ups. Parking is expensive.

Roy Thomson Hall is located in Toronto’s vibrant Entertainment District. Both the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Toronto Mendelssohn Choir call it home. The circular designed building was designed by the iconic Canadian architects Arthur Erickson andMathers andHaldenby. Before 2002, acoustic issues were reported by orchestra musicians who struggled to hear each other on stage but were improved after a six-month renovation. The renovation added a new 10.5-toncrescentcanopy and a new 38-ton circular canopy housing a massive retractable sound system. Lining the back of the stage is a pipe organ built by Canadian organ builders Gabriel Kney of London, Ontario. The seats are comfortable, and the space, particularly the expansive lobby, is generous.

4: Massey Hall

Massey Hall, exterior
Massey Hall, exterior.

Capacity: 2,765

Address: 178 Victoria St, Toronto, ON M5B 1T7 (Map)

Best Seats: Center Main Floor, Centre Front row balcony above Main floor)

Worst Seats: Rear Gallery (above the balcony)

Pros: Central location. Historic.

Cons: Some seats have obstructed views, especially in the cheaper seats. Elevators need upgrading. Uncomfortable seats.

Opened in 1894 and designated a National Historic Site of Canada on June 15, 1981, Massey Hall is Canada’s oldest concert hall. It was the original home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra before they moved to their current home at Roy Thomson Hall in 1982. Massey has been the site of many historic performances by artists such as Maria Callas, Enrico Caruso, George Gershwin, Glenn Gould, Vladimir Horowitz, Luciano Pavarotti, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Arturo Toscanini.

Massey Hall was built with Palladian architecture and features Moorish Revival arches spanning the width of the interior hall. This interior decor was inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Spain as well as Louis Sullivan’s Chicago Auditorium and Opera House. It has been renovated many times and currently operated by the same corporation as Roy Thomson Hall. Soundwise, the acoustics are too be desired, but the history of the venue makes up for it.

5: Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, Jeanne Lamon Hall

Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, Jeanne Lamon Hall. Home of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir.
Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre, Jeanne Lamon Hall. Home of Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir.

Capacity: 750

Address: 427 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON, M5S 1X7 (Map)

Best Seats: Center Orchestra Level, Centre Front Balcony

Worst Seats: Balcony 0 and 1 (closest to stage)

Pros: Intimate. Ideal for period ensembles and orchestras.

Cons: Bathrooms are located in the basement and amenities need updating. The front lobby, especially near the ticket window, can get very crowded.

Trinity- St. Paul’s Sanctuary/Jeanne Lamon Hall recently enjoyed a $3-million revitalization which has seen the venue’s acoustics dramatically improved. Home to Tafelmusik — Canada’s premiere period orchestra — the venue produces a warm, clear sound while maintaining a good amount of natural reverberation. The acoustics are designed by master acoustician Bob Essert and were widely praised by musicians and patrons alike. The venue is located near the Bloor Subway line at Spadina, and is centrally located in the heart of the trendy Annex neighbourhood.

For more LISZT’S see HERE.

 

Michael Vincent
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Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. He has worked as a senior editor for over fifteen years and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
Follow me
Michael Vincent
Follow me

Michael Vincent

Michael Vincent is the Editor-in-chief Ludwig Van and CEO of Museland Media. He publishes regularly and writes occasionally. He has worked as a senior editor for over fifteen years and is a former freelance classical music critic for the Toronto Star. Michael holds a Doctorate in Music from the University of Toronto.
Michael Vincent
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