ALERT: Please be advised that due to COVID-19 the events section is not currently being maintained. Events listed here are likely rescheduled or canceled and new submissions will not be approved.

100 Years of Hugh Le Caine

Celebrating the 100th birthday of the founder of Canadian electronics

Even among knowledgeable devotees of electronic music, Canadian scientist and composer Hugh Le Caine is more likely someone they’ve heard of than someone they know much about. This celebration of Le Caine’s 100th birthday aims to change this perception.

Hugh Le Caine (1914-1977) has been called a hero of electronic music. At an early age he began building musical instruments and experimenting with electronic devices. Shortly after World War II he developed the electronic sackbut. This was a sophisticated monophonic performance instrument now recognized as the first voltage-controlled synthesizer, which paved the way for the majority of commercially available synthesizers available today.

Le Caine developed some twenty additional instruments. Gayle Young, composer/performer, author and former publisher of Musicworks Magazine, writes in The Sackbut Blues, her biography of Le Caine, “Perhaps the most important aspect of Le Caine’s designs for his instruments was the ‘playability’ that he took care to build into them. His fixation with ‘beautiful sound’ led him repeatedly to design electronic instruments capable of producing a nuance-filled expression typical of the orchestral tradition.”

Young will be the host of this multi-media presentation and relate a wealth of knowledge about Le Caine’s life and work. She will be joined by special guest speakers Alcides Lanza and Robert Aitken, both of whom worked with Le Caine and will recount their experiences.

Finally, the difficult task of translating Le Caine’s unique sounds (his instruments are all housed in museums) is brought to life by Dave MacKinnon and Rob Cruickshank. McKinnon’s band, the Fembots, are renowned for their custom built instruments which set them apart from most other Toronto bands of the last 10 years. Here MacKinnon indulges his love of tape loops with an homage to Le Caine’s Special Purpose Tape Recorder. Cruickshank takes Le Caine’s most famous work, “Dripsody” (1955) and recreates the piece’s transformation of a recording of a single drip of water into an intense electro-acoustic storm.

Don’t miss this chance to learn more about one of the great figures of electronic music! Keep checking for updates to this event.

Doors 7pm | Concert 8pm

Tickets $15 regular | $10 member

$12 Advance at

100 Years of Hugh Le Caine

Leaflet | © Mapbox © OpenStreetMap Improve this map