At Toronto’s legendary Massey Hall, a 21st-century renovation turns the lights back on

At Toronto’s legendary Massey Hall, a 21st-century renovation turns the lights back on

Hall, City

2021-11-26 2:21:00 AM

At Toronto ’s legendary Massey Hall , a 21st-century renovation turns the lights back on

After a retrofit that was several years in the making, the storied music venue reopens its doors with a string of sold-out shows by Massey ’s unofficial mayor, veteran singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot

Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail2 of 15Final touches are underway at the newly renovated Massey Hall.Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail6 of 15A preserved section of Massey Hall is encased in glass seen during a media tour of renovations on the eve of the concert hall's grand re-opening.

Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail10 of 15People walk by a lit up Massey Hall sign as the newly renovated legendary Toronto music venue is unveiled for media the night before their reopening show following the storied concert hall's $184-million facelift, in Toronto.

Read more: The Globe and Mail »

Maple Leafs will regret any trade for Rasmus Sandin

Maple Leafs defenceman Rasmus Sandin remains without a contract for next season but general manager Kyle Dubas needs to negotiate new term for Toronto's 2019... Read more >>

vivien2112 🤩

CTV National News: First look at Massey HallCTV’s John Vennavally-Rao has the first look at the long-awaited renovations to Canada’s Massey Hall concert cathedral.

The Massey Hall renovations are finally done. See the new changes to the iconic Toronto music hallThe legendary Toronto music venue, is unveiled for media the night before their reopening show following the storied concert hall's $184-million facelift.

The Massey Hall renovations are finally done. See the new changes to the iconic Toronto music hallThe legendary Toronto music venue, is unveiled for media the night before their reopening show following the storied concert hall's $184-million facelift.

CTV National News: First look at Massey HallCTV’s John Vennavally-Rao has the first look at the long-awaited renovations to Canada’s Massey Hall concert cathedral.

Biden may restart Trump’s ‘remain in Mexico’ immigration policy by next week, news outlet saysAxios reported the U.S. President may start turning asylum seekers back to Mexico under a reinstated Trump-era immigration program, but will offer them the option to receive the COVID-19 vaccine Muhammad Qasim saw in his dreams, that after many unsuccessful rulers, people of Pakistan will lay their trust and hope in Imran Khan, but even then nothing will change. This and many other dreams of Muhammad Qasim are coming true today. More at Go figure.

Tavares, Engvall lead Maple Leafs attack in 6-2 rout of KingsJohn Tavares scores once, adds helper as Toronto Maple Leafs beat Los Angeles Kings 6-2

The top 10 most significant concerts in Massey Hall’s history, as reviewed by The Globe That’s the right attitude with which to approach a national historic site.CTV News | News Video - Top National News Headlines - News Videos CTV News Video Network CTV News | News Video - Top National News Headlines - News Videos Clip link:.The newly renovated Massey Hall, legendary Toronto music venue, is unveiled for media the night before their reopening show on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.The newly renovated Massey Hall, legendary Toronto music venue, is unveiled for media the night before their reopening show on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

From centre stage, the 2800-seat hall looks the same as ever: wooden orchestra seats with red upholstery, two balconies with some filigree, and then a ceiling decorated with Moorish arches. The newly uncovered stained-glass windows glimmer. All this is basically the way architect Sidney Badgley, working for the Methodist millionaire Hart Massey, imagined it in the 1890s. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 3 of 15 Final touches are underway at the newly renovated Massey Hall. But the sameness is an illusion. All the seats are new, and a set of robots can drive under the floor to pull the orchestra seats under the stage to create a general-admission standing area. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 5 of 15 Frederic Dionne works to complete renovations on Massey Hall on the eve of its re-opening.

The edges of the floor now have a terrace of seats accessed by a level and fully accessible passageway, cooked up by Charcoalblue. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 6 of 15 Details inside the newly renovated Massey Hall concert venue in Toronto. The newly renovated Massey Hall, legendary Toronto music venue, is unveiled for media the night before their reopening show on Wednesday, November 24, 2021. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 1 of 15 Workers complete the final touches of renovations on Massey Hall. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 2 of 15 Media receive a tour of the newly renovated Massey Hall, in Toronto, on Wednesday, November 24, 2021. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 9 of 15 Marianne McKenna, lead architect on the revitalization project of Massey Hall, stands outside the venue on the eve of its re-opening. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 3 of 15 Final touches are underway at the newly renovated Massey Hall. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 10 of 15 The newly renovated Massey Hall officially opens on Thursday November 25, 2021 with a Gordon Lightfoot concert.

Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 4 of 15 A view of the newly renovated Massey Hall, in Toronto, on Wednesday, November 24, 2021. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 5 of 15 Frederic Dionne works to complete renovations on Massey Hall on the eve of its re-opening. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 12 of 15 Archival photo of Massey Hall on Shuter Street in Toronto taken on September 30, 1970. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 6 of 15 Details inside the newly renovated Massey Hall concert venue in Toronto. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 7 of 15 A preserved section of Massey Hall is encased in glass seen during a media tour of renovations on the eve of the concert hall's grand re-opening. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 8 of 15 Jesse Kumagai, CEO of Massey Hall, is photographed on the eve of the venue’s opening, on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.L.L.

Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 9 of 15 Marianne McKenna, lead architect on the revitalization project of Massey Hall, stands outside the venue on the eve of its re-opening. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 10 of 15 The newly renovated Massey Hall officially opens on Thursday November 25, 2021 with a Gordon Lightfoot concert. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 11 of 15 People walk by a lit up Massey Hall sign as the newly renovated legendary Toronto music venue is unveiled for media the night before their reopening show following the storied concert hall's $184-million facelift, in Toronto. Massey Hall Archives. Christopher Katsarov/The Globe and Mail 12 of 15 Archival photo of Massey Hall on Shuter Street in Toronto taken on September 30, 1970. John McNeill/The Globe and Mail 13 of 15 This photo from October 23, 1925 was taken inside Massey Hall at a Liberal party rally.

Crowds gathered in the upper galleries of Massey Hall to listen to a keynote address by Prime Minister W.L. Mackenzie King. John Boyd/The Globe and Mail 14 of 15 The interior of Massey Hall photographed in 1894, the year it opened. Massey Hall Archives 15 of 15 Further up, the balcony has grown in area; and up top, the arches of the ceiling have all been pulled down, rebuilt and reapplied.

The ceiling now conceals many tons of steel structure, enough to support a serious PA system and lighting, and an attic space for production. Acoustician Bob Essert said the sound of the hall will be much the same, but not quite: Certain surfaces facing the stage now have a coating of sound-absorbing plaster that will should mute some of the awkward echoes that performers used to experience. The hall now has a dream logic. Climb up into the balconies, mounting the steep rake and ducking past the gold-painted steel columns, and you feel as affably cramped as ever. Then you open a big swinging door and another world – like an extra wing unpacked from your subsconscious – reveals itself.

This is one of four glassed-in corridors, or “passerelles,” that hang on the outside of the old building. They link the seating sections with the new lobby and bar areas at the other end of the complex, within a new addition. Here you get up close with the Ionic columns and Don Valley-sourced red brick of the original building; walk around to the back of the hall and you’ll find the new lobby and bar, with sleek white oak, blackened steel and accessible washrooms. “We’re trying to dissolve any sense of enclosure, and open it up to the city,” Ms. McKenna said.

Windows depicting famous composers have been restored as part of the renovations. Alex Bozikovic/The Globe and Mail The biggest changes are behind the stage. Here, KPMB (including principal Chris Couse and associate Graham Baxter) designed a seven-floor addition that contains all the nuts and bolts that Massey had been missing, including a loading dock. The whole complex is now called Allied Music Centre. The addition includes two new venues – a 100-seat theatre and a 500-seat club-style space with a stage whose backdrop is a picture window overlooking Old City Hall (another important Toronto building of the staid 1890s, waiting for its own restoration.

) While those new venues won’t be done until next year – electricians and millwork contractors are still at work at the moment – they will transform the hall’s role in the city, providing smaller streaming-ready venues for developing artists. “Across the city, venues are disappearing,” said Jesse Kumagai, CEO of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall. “We’re hoping that artists will start performing in these spaces, and make their way to Massey Hall.” This article from The Globe and Mail, circa Oct. 9, 1933 is on display at Massey Hall.

Alex Bozikovic/The Globe and Mail The new architecture is quiet and serious, as one would expect from KPMB and Ms. McKenna in particular – an expert in theatre architecture who oversaw the renovation of what is now Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music. The architects have allowed themselves a few beautiful details – new pearly terrazzo on the stairs, and a “curtain” of bias-cut red brick that slides onto the old facades – but these are few. “The emphasis at Massey was all on the hall itself, and on bringing people together,” Ms. McKenna said.

“Music does that: It creates community.” The new version of Massey Hall is only the latest in a string of changes. The first iteration combined that flashy Moorish detail on the interior (en vogue in the 1890s) with a very severe neoclassical exterior. Later additions of the 1930s and 1940s added an Art Deco character in the revamped stairs and lobby, and tacked on fire escapes out front. All of this remains, cleaned up – inscrutably altered, but the same in spirit.

And the payoff is clear from the main entrance on Shuter Street. Look twice: The steel fire escapes are gone. The sandstone and brick façade is, for the first time since the 1930s, plain to see. It’s very Victorian, very serious – very much the product of a colonial city suspicious of music and secular fun. But the distinctive red neon sign is back, too.

The lights are on once again. for The Globe’s arts and lifestyle newsletters for more news, columns and advice in your inbox. Follow .