10 under-the-radar classical music venues in Toronto
Under-the-radar classical music venues in Toronto give you a chance to take it outside the proverbial box (violin case?). Think hard. Where do you go if you want to kick it classical? Roy Thompson Hall and The Royal Conservatory probably come to mind. A fancy treat, sure, but there are other venues scattered across downtown Toronto that you might not know are there.
While you can find classical showing up everywhere from Lula Lounge to Placebo Space, if you'd like to venture off the beaten path and listen to some classical music away from the crowds, take a look at this list of the best unexpected venues for classical music in Toronto.
If you happen to be wandering the side streets of Yorkville, you might come across an old white chapel. That is Heleconian Hall, a quaint, peaceful little concert venue. When it was built over 100 years ago, it was part of rural Toronto and inside it still feels like you're far away from the city. The Heliconian Club offers a wide range of arts and culture programs including classical concerts.
Toronto Music Garden
Designed by the world-renowned cellist YoYo Ma and landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy, the bird's eye view of the Toronto Music Garden resembles the head of a cello. Take a break from the score of outdoor movies showing in Toronto this summer and enjoy some classical music performances instead, hosted by the Harbourfront Centre. Bonus: it's occasionally called The Sound Garden, which is kind of funny.
Trinity St. Paul's
Trinity St. Paul's United Church towers over Bloor St. West with its 115-foot tower, but inside there is a sanctuary for classical music. Home to the world-renowned Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir, the church is also where they host the better part of their concerts. In the Jeanne Lamin Hall you'll find the unique acoustics often identified with churches, but rest assured, the newly renovated, ergonomic seats will allow you to enjoy longer performances right up to the end.
Do you associate classical music concerts to old, cold churches with uncomfortable seats? Breaking that mold, 918 Bathurst offers a relaxed atmosphere for music and art lovers of all stripes. Formerly the home of Toronto's Buddhist Temple, 918 is a non-profit culture centre that also has an art gallery in addition to hosting musical performances and small theatrical productions.
Described as "Toronto's Centre for Creative Music," the Music Gallery (located at the Church of St. George the Martyr,) prides itself in offering Torontonians a wide variety of music, injecting Toronto's music scene with experimental and innovative music. With programming like the X Avant Music Festival, you'll find music at this venue to satisfy your curiosity.
Picture a grand piano placed in an old industrial warehouse in Toronto's west end. In Gallery 345, you can experience that odd combination while enjoying art and a variety of classical music. Coming this fall is the concert "Bridge Between the Arts: A Move Towards Peace," featuring music composed by J.S. Bach, R. Strauss and more.
Performances from around the globe including poetry readings, jazz and fusion music mean attending shows at Musideum will allow you to expand your definition of classical music. In August alone, there will be more than fifteen shows to choose from in their intimate showroom. They also sell all kinds of instrument - if you feel inspired by the music you hear, maybe you'll be ready to create your own.
Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Let's go to The Ex - but instead of heading straight for the cronut stands and bro-country focused Bandshell, take a peak at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. This is a perfectly sized venue for both classical and jazz performances. Fun fact: it was the host for Adele's first concert in Toronto in 2008. It's a hidden treasure among the myriad of venues in Toronto, and offers an intimate setting for larger crowds.
Glenn Gould Studio
The Glenn Gould studio at CBC's headquarters offers a range of concerts and events, including classical music, though it's probably best known for hosting live radio shows like CBC's The Debaters. Upcoming events include a musical based on Chet Baker, legendary jazz trumpet player. Do you want to record? The space is also available to rent. Awesome sound included.
Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre
The Four Seasons Centre's world-class stage is the Canadian Opera Company's main venue, but don't feel you need to know much about classical music or opera to enjoy what the centre has to offer. The COC hosts The Free Concert Series, free classical music concerts (and if you happen to have opera tickets, pre-opera seminars) in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre situated in the centre's lounge. The amphitheatre is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows making the ambiance unbelievably relaxing, even though you're in the heart of downtown.
Writing by Naomi Grosman. Photo via 918 Bathurst on Facebook