Music Gallery

The Music Gallery is one of Toronto most loved venues for live music. Located in an old Church on John Street just north of Queen, The Music Gallery has amazing acoustics and usually has a small make-shift bar set up in the foyer.

Music Gallery

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Music Gallery

10 Upcoming Events
About the Event
  • May 16

    The topic of safe spaces has been an active and controversial one with respect to live music and beyond. Every live music venue ought to ensure that patrons feel secure in an environment where they are not targeted by aggressive behaviour or threatening environmental factors. There is no single way to ensure that a space is safe but much work has been done to develop adaptable action plans. Before focusing on action plans, however, it’s important to explore wider social intersectionalities that exist in Toronto which impact safety in order to develop suitable tactical approaches.

    This event is intended for venue owners/staff and presenters. This is a mandatory training session for Music Gallery staff and the results of this event will be made public and inform our own safety policies in the venues we use. The format will be educational, not discussion-based, for live music professionals, but the public is welcome to attend.

    Facilitators Syrus Marcus Ware and Kira-Lynn Ferderber (of Ottawa’s Project Soundcheck initiative) bring vast, diverse experience to this topic. Join them as they examine gender, racial and accessibilty impacts on safety, then provide actionable advice.

    Syrus is a Vanier Scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Ware’s writings on trans health, disability studies and activism are part of curricula at City University of New York, York, and Ryerson. He is a core-team member of Black Lives Matter-Toronto and is also part of Blackness Yes!/Blockorama. Syrus was voted “Best Queer Activist” by NOW Magazine (2005) and was awarded the Steinert and Ferreiro Award for LGBT community leadership and activism (2012).

    Kira-Lynn is an educator and internationally accomplished trans queer activist. Topics of their workshops and writing include hip-hop and disability, LGBTQ politics, and the decriminalization of sex work. She has spent the past few years focused on anti-racist approaches to bystander intervention to prevent sexual violence in the music industry, Kira-Lynn is pleased to connect with other feminists looking to make shows and festivals safer for women and everyone.

    Admission is free!

  • May 5

    First up is The Toronto Harp Society, whose members and instruments have graced the Sanctuary every so often in recent years. Their mandate is to cultivate and foster an appreciation of the harp, as well as to encourage new works for harp by Canadian composers. The society is also adamant about supporting arts education, which has resulted in tonight’s featured performer being the winner of their annual competition. The winner will play two solo works, including one piece by a Canadian composer. To end the set, harpist extraordinaire Angela Schwarzkopf performs A Portrait of Tschamiu by Patrick Arteaga.

    The second half of the night features Stereoscope Duo, Toronto’s newest saxophone duo – Olivia Shortt (last seen here during X Avant as a member of Dialectica) and Jacob Armstrong. This creative and quirky duo is dedicated to the development of their instrument’s repertoire and commissioning composers to write for saxophone. They’re not afraid to use electronics, collaborate with dancers and other artists or make new sounds. It’s all in a day’s work. For this event, the duo performs an eclectic program of works by Robert Lemay, Ben Wylie, and Finola Merivale. Merivale, an Ireland-based composer, has written a work for saxophone duo, dancer and vocalist, exploring the concept of home and security.

    The Emergents Series is generously funded by Roger D. Moore.

  • April 25

    What Sovereignty Sounds Like is a forum for Tkaronto’s Indigenous musical artists to share their perspective on the sounds of sovereignty and emerging musical communities in Canada’s cultural capital.

    With the recent explosion of Indigenous artists into the spotlight of the Canadian music scene, Indigenous musicians are shaping new and important conversations with their art. Are settler audiences equipped with the proper knowledge to actively listen? What will reconciliation sound like?

    This conversation, moderated by classically trained Wolastoq First Nation vocal artist Jeremy Dutcher, will guide attendees through questioning and exploring Tkaronto Indigenous musical landscapes and investigate how existing musical structures support the development of new dialogues and spaces. How are performance spaces transformed when Indigenous artist inhabit them? How are protocol and ceremony incorporated into Indigenous performance? What sorts of Transnational collaborations are possible for Indigenous artists in a place like Tkaronto?

    To complete the evening we present a set from emerging Anishinaabe electronic artist and Tkaronto resident Ziibiwan. Ziibiwan explores many different genres with his work but pulls most inspiration from contemporary R&B and alternative artists such as Radiohead and Björk. His ethereal sonic landscape opens into deeply hypnotic spaces where land, sky, and deep sea meet. His debut EP, Time Limits, is the first release on RPM Records.

    Admission is Free!

  • April 22

    Surely one of the driving cultural collectives in the city over the past decade is 88 Days of Fortune. Driving force Ayo Leilani played the Music Gallery last year as Witch Prophet and curates this evening’s lineup:

    “I chose to curate this showcase by specifically focusing on black women who are currently making music that seamlessly flows through the realms of blues, jazz, soul, hip hop experimentation and Afrofuturism. I purposely wanted to shine the light on talented black women who help smash the patriarchy (and white supremacy) by being self sufficient, creative, proud, active leaders in their craft(s) and communities.

    SassyBlack, M.I. Blue and OBUXUM all share those qualities which I hold in high regard and their talents alone speak volumes for anyone lucky enough to hear. I am very excited to have them showcased at the Music Gallery and I’m looking forward to having women, especially black women, taking up space and being heard.”

    SassyBlack (Catherine Harris-White), formerly of THEESatisfaction, is a singer, songwriter and producer based in Seattle, Washington. With roots in classical & jazz, her voice is often compared to Ella Fitzgerald and Erykah Badu and her production style is reminiscent of Roy Ayers and Herbie Hancock. Sassy is preparing her second solo album due in 2017.

    OBUXUM is a up-and-coming young Somali performative- experimental music producer. She’s currently working on an instrumental series called The Metaphor which will consist of intricate samples, soundscapes, jazz, hip-hop, Afro-dance, dancehall/reggae, dub and EDM-inspired music.

    M.I.Blue, also known as Blue, is an Eritrean, Alternative R&B artist from Toronto. Her raspy, jazz-infused sound is showcased on her first EP, Black Tea and Mint. She is currently working on releasing her new LP Introspective and Blue.

  • April 7

    April’s Emergents, curated by Joe Strutt (the citizen archivist behind the Mechanical Forest Sound blog and the Track Could Bend monthly concert series) explores the borderlands between formalist rigour and the experimental “nation of tinkerers”.

    Musicians can “emerge” from many points of origin, whether from academic training grounds or underground performance spaces — increasingly, it’s a mix of both. Laura Swankey has a formal “jazz” background but has been spending more time lately following in the footsteps of free-vocal explorers like Christine Duncan while Jess Forrest (also a top-notch popsmith as Castle If) is constructing meticulous fields of electronic drones that always retain a shy, humanistic warmth.

    Castle If is the moniker of electronic composer Jess Forrest. Equipped with a small, yet powerful assembly of analog synthesizers, she crafts retro-futuristic “cosmic exotica” inspired by the strange sounds of the synth pioneers that forged electronica. The eerie yet comfortingly familiar echoes of lounge and library music shaped into a dream of the future.

    Forrest has appeared on bills alongside artists such as Julianna Barwick, Steve Hauschildt, Grimes, U.S. Girls, and Silver Apples. She currently resides in Toronto, Canada, where she cares for an extensive collection of houseplants. Castle If has an instrumental 30-minute cassette tape set for independent release this coming April, and a full length sci-fi concept album due to follow in summer 2017.

    Laura Swankey is an eclectic and skilled improvising vocalist known for her versatility, creativity and open mindedness. In the spring of 2013, Laura released her debut, self-titled quartet EP. Her international feminist avant-garde improvising ensemble JBDC, with Jessica Ackerley (guitar) and Elisa Thorn (harp) released their debut self-titled record in Brooklyn, NY in October 2015 and have a second album to be released early 2017 on HAVN Records. Most recently, Laura was featured on Toronto’s Collective Order debut EP, released in August 2016 on Longbow Records.

    The Emergents Series is generously funded by Roger D. Moore.

  • March 31

    New Music for Strings, Harp and Guitar

    The Madawaska Quartet has recently expanded its string quartet to become a full ensemble, and this concert adds more strings in every sense to ensnare the audience’s attention.

    Sky High combines premieres by prominent composers with immersive staging. Performing in the round, the Quartet and their guests will slowly be consumed by its environs as the show progresses. This is no genteel salon –the experience is sure to bring to mind the spellbinding staging of the Flux Quartet’s performance of Morton Feldman’s String Quartet No. 2 during the X Avant festival four years ago.

    The Madawaska Quartet (MSQ) have consistently pushed boundaries throughout their career. Hailed for their “astonishing talent” (Musicworks Magazine), they perform pieces from the mainstream to performance art, and from the Baroque to the present-day. As champions of Canadian composers and their works, the MSQ has premiered more than thirty new pieces.

    Sanya Eng is one of Canada’s most sought-after harpists, equally celebrated as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician. A dynamic and sensitive performer, she has been described as “an outstanding musical talent” (Jerusalem Post), “remarkably polished” (Globe and Mail), and “dazzling with her delicate and intense command of the harp” (Musical Toronto).

    Though he plays the most popular instrument in the world, guitarist Rob MacDonald digs incessantly to find some of the least popular repertoire. This focus comes from a distinct interest in composers who risk taking things too far – sometimes they discover fascinating new ways of using the classical guitar. He teaches at the University of Toronto.

    Omar Daniel – Only the Eagle flies the Storm

    Andrew Staniland – Equations/Constellations

    Scott Good – Sonata

    Yoko Ono – Sky Piece for Jesus Christ

  • March 31

    This season’s new History Series has journeyed through Toronto’s places and spaces for free improvisation and Black diasporic over the years. The final edition for the year explores developments in electronic and New Music during the 1970s, presented by someone who was at the heart of it: musician, composer and broadcaster David Jaeger.

    Jaeger illuminates groundbreaking artists of the 70s through words and music, including the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, Possibilities Portmanteaux, Tony Gnazzo, Nexus Percussion, The York Improvised Music Association (Yimpa), the Glass Orchestra, and Udo Kasemets.

    We’re lucky to have Jaeger telling the tale as he is a crucial figure in the development of New Music in this country. In the early 1970s, Jaeger established a digital sound synthesis facility at the University of Toronto, one of the first in Canada. He joined the CBC in 1973 as a radio music producer for various series including ‘Music of Today’ and ‘Music Makers International’, and in 1978 he created one of the world’s most celebrated new music programs, “Two New Hours,” which was heard on the national CBC Radio Two network until spring 2007. He co-founded the Canadian Electronic Ensemble, has released numerous CDs, and headed international music organizations. His commitment to new music has made available to radio audiences a full spectrum of music from around the world, with a special emphasis on Canadian music and performers. Jaeger has encouraged a generation of composers and musicians, aiding in the birth of a number of ensembles and festivals dedicated to this repertoire.

    Admission is free!

  • March 11

    “With its assortment of strings, various brass arrangements, guitars, and so much more, Plumes is a glorious crossover of classical music grace and indie-pop catchiness” – Greyowl Point

    Producer/singer Grimes has become one of Canada’s most intriguing talents, whose highly detailed yet insanely catchy sonic constructions provide much to explore. Powered by the imagination of thirteen composers, Montreal’s Plumes Ensemble reinvents Grimes’ breakout album Visions to create an entirely new sonic universe.

    Plumes, a hybrid pop/classical group originating from Montréal, is the ideal group to take on this mission. Singer/guitarist and songwriter Veronica Charnley, former frontperson for Canadian indie rock group Flotilla, is joined by musicians from diverse backgrounds, including composer and multi-instrumentalist Geof Holbrook, harpist Éveline Grégoire-Rousseau, drummer Karl Jannuska and an expanding cast of chamber musicians including violist Pemi Paull and bass clarinettist Louise Campbell.

    Many Visions’ composers include Cassandra Miller, Nicole Lizée, Marielle Groven, Emilie LeBel and our own Monica Pearce. Each draws from the songs of Visions to create original compositions celebrating subversion and deconstruction.

    Many Visions is presented on a cross-Canada tour which is supported in part by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Cluster: New Music + Integrated Arts Festival (Winnipeg).

    David Jones is an electronic musician who blends analogue and digital systems to create intense, beautiful and rhythmic environments. In the Fall of 2016 he performed as part of the multimedia trio Lydian for Forms Festival, his video art was screened at Pleasure Dome’s New Toronto Works and he performed in collaboration with the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra for their Underground Elysium concert at the Great Hall.

  • February 11

    Pleasence Records, co-founded by James Lindsay and Deirdre O’Sullivan, is a label dedicated to underground experimentation based in Toronto. The music walks a fine line between pop and experimental, respecting the past while looking forward to (im)possible futures. This showcase also promises immersive visuals from multidisciplinary artist Vanessa Rieger (co-founder of The White House Project and the safe space project Nightlifeguard) and Randy Gagne aka Man Made Hill, last seen here as Randy the Tongue in performance art ensemble Stillboys.

    Alexander Moskos is a long-standing participant in Montreal’s experimental music community. He has performed and recorded his own songs under the name Drainolith, with the noise rock band AIDS Wolf. Moskos has toured constantly over the past few years and released recordings on labels like NNA, American Tapes, and Drag City. This show is a rare solo piano outing, drawing from his first album of solo piano compositions, Military Terms, released on Pleasence Records in 2015.

    ZONES began as a sphere of sonic exploration established in the summer of 2012 by Toronto-based multi-media artist Derek McKeon. Working as ZONES, McKeon weaves hypnotic loops and psychedelic textures together to create a marbling of pop hooks in a kaleidoscopic haze. ZONES’ latest album, After Image, was released on Pleasence Records in 2016.

    Doom Tickler, Leslie Predy, is a Toronto-based artist who strives to create a primal musical experience that pushes the limits of sounds a human body can create. She utters twisted vocals from another planet, like all the cats on the internet blended into a digital grinder. These are the sounds of your stomach turning, bubbling like a soup & eating itself. This is dark, foreboding music.

  • February 4

    Our first Emergents of 2017 investigates how sound can be used to explore cross-cultural ideas, community, and communication. Two Toronto-based composers’ collectives shed light on what it means to be a composer/performer collective in a diverse multi-cultural city. Spearheaded by pianist Noam Lemish, the mission of The Israeli-Iranian Musical Initiative (I = I) uses music as a medium to communicate between Israeli, Iranian, and Jewish communities, and to celebrate the rich history of Jewish and Persian cultures. Formed in 2013, the group celebrates the peaceful coexistence of these communities in Canada, where dialogue and artistic collaboration serve as a path to peace and understanding.

    Caution Tape Sound Collective is a new collective of composers and performers committed to presenting works that push musical boundaries. The group encourages risk-taking and experimentation often through the use of technology, non-musical elements, and virtuosic writing. Caution Tape has commissioned over 20 new works by early career Canadian composers, and presented the Toronto premieres of works by Jimmie LeBlanc and Georges Aperghis. Their projects have received generous support from the Ontario Arts Council, SOCAN Foundation, and the Canadian Music Centre. This evening’s program will feature an all-Canadian array of works by some of the brightest young composers of today: Bekah Simms, August Murphy-King, Tyler Versluis, and Patrick Arteaga.

    The Emergents Series is generously funded by Roger D. Moore.

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