Last weekend Gordon Lightfoot played the last concert at Toronto's Massey Hall before two years of renovations. In its 124 year history, the greatest names in music including Igor Stravinski, George Gershwin, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Glenn Gould, Charlie Parker, Joni Mitchell, and St. Michael's Choir School amongst many others have performed in the space. It holds the distinction of being Canada's oldest concert hall, but its design has held up as an intimate space to hear world-class musicians.
Over the years, the Archbishops of Toronto have been invited to and have attended many events at Massey Hall including a 1933 protest against Hitler. In 1959 Cardinal McGuigan joined the St. Michael's Choir School boys onstage:
|Cardinal McGuigan addresses the crowd at a concert honouring Ukrainian Greek Catholic Metropolitan Archbishop Andrew Sheptytsky, OSBM.
December 13, 1959
ARCAT Photograph Collection
Archbishop McNeil was invited to an event celebrating the opening of a house on Beverly Street by Sir Arthur Pearson to train men blinded in the first world war:
The Catholic Youth Organization held a rally in 1938:
The National Chorus of Toronto performed annually from 1903 to 1928:
Admiral Earl Beatty of the British Navy visited Toronto in 1921:
Archbishop Pocock was on the board of directors of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which performed at Massey Hall until Roy Thomson Hall opened in 1982. He kept a copy of their 1964-1965 brochure. That year concert goers would hear the Canadian premiere of Britten's War Requiem, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, and Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, amongst other great classical works. The back of the brochure shows pricing for season tickets. Fifty dollars would get you fifteen concerts in one of the best seats in the house:
|1964-1965 Toronto Symphony Orchestra Season Ticket price chart.
Archbishop Pocock Fonds
Massey Hall holds a special place in my heart because it was the venue of the first rock concert my sister took me to when I was in grade 10. I've seen many of my favourite artists there since then, and I'm looking forward to seeing more after the renovations are finished. It will be exciting to see the changes! In the meantime, I'll watch the Live at Massey Hall series online.