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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

THE SCOOP | UofT Faculty Of Music Receives $7 Million Gift To Open State Of The Art Multimedia Venue

By Anya Wassenberg on June 28, 2022

Artist's rendering of the facility courtesy of Diller Scofidio and Renfro Architects & architectsAlliance
Artist’s rendering of the facility courtesy of Diller Scofidio and Renfro Architects & architectsAlliance

The University of Toronto Faculty of Music has received a $7 million gift that will fund the Jay Telfer Forum, a state of the art facility.

The building will go up on at 90 Queen’s Park, just in front of the Edward Johnson building, where the Faculty is housed. Currently, the entrance is set back from the sidewalk. “We’re a little bit out of sight,” says Ryan McClelland, Professor of Music Theory and Associate Dean, Academic & Student Affairs, Faculty of Music. Frontage on Queen’s Park will give the Faculty more visibility, with a subway stop close by with easy access for audiences.

The multi-million dollar gift is the largest the Faculty of Music has ever received, and will be used to support the facility’s construction as well as its ongoing operations.

Features of the concert hall/multimedia space

The UofT Faculty of Music hosts about 600 performances each year, with two existing public concert venues — the 815-seat MacMillan Theatre, and the 490-seat Walter Hall. The new Jay Telfer Forum concert hall will nicely fill in the gap at 229 seats, a size ideal for soloists and chamber groups. With the addition of modern tech, it’s destined for multiple uses from student recitals and professional performances to conferences, and a space where the Faculty’s scholars can showcase their work via public lectures and other events.

Features include:

  • A huge window that looks out on the city’s skyline will form a backdrop for the stage (as pictured in the artist’s rendering);
  • The technological infrastructure will incorporate both acoustically advanced audio for live performance, and cutting edge digital content capture designed for broadcast or online streaming;
  • It can be used for music and multimedia performance, conference speakers, and public lectures;
  • The south wall will incorporate an acoustically engineered glazed surface that can be used for projections, including SURTITLES™ during performance;
  • Textured surfaces will enhance the room’s acoustic properties.

“It can function as both a concert space and lecture space,” McClelland points out. “We have a new program in musical technology and digital media,” he mentions. The facility will be ideally suited for recording and other projects. “It will be an excellent sized space for multimedia performance.”

He notes that, increasingly, contemporary compositions involve a multimedia component. While the MacMillan Theatre is one of the few in the city suitable for full-scale opera productions, in contrast, the Jay Telfer Forum will become a premiere new technology venue.

The Associate Dean conveyed the University’s gratitude for the gift. “[It’s h]elping us to contribute in an even more robust way to Toronto’s music community,” he says.

Passing Fancy band poster courtesy of Mike Daley
Passing Fancy band poster courtesy of Mike Daley

Jay Telfer

The name Jay Telfer will be familiar to Torontonians of a certain age. Telfer was a musician, songwriter and screenwriter who first caught public attention as a member of the band A Passing Fancy in the 1960s.

The guitarist, and others like him, came to epitomize the Yorkville sound — from a time when now-upscale Yorkville neighbourhood was a haven for hippies and counter-culture aficionados.

After the band, Telfer went on to a solo career, releasing a few singles, and, with the Steel River Band, wrote the song “Ten Pound Note” that hit the Canadian Top 50 charts in 1970. He scored another charting single in 1974 with “Time Has Tied Me”.

Telfer played guitar for the original Toronto production of Hair, and became an award-winning screenwriter in Hollywood. He was also founder, editor, publisher and typesetter of The Wayback Times, a periodical for antique collectors.

He passed away in May 2009.

The gift comes from Telfer’s brother Ian, and Nancy Burke. “The Jay Telfer Forum will be a fitting tribute to my brother: a place where rising musicians can learn, experiment, and grow,” said Ian Telfer. “Nancy and I hope this gift will lift up the entire arts community in Toronto as it emerges from one of its most challenging eras.”

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