Toronto is a music town. As Canadian talent continues to reach new levels of popularity world-wide, Toronto should be proud of the place it continues to hold in the training, developing and launching of artists, in the support of existing artists, teachers and mentors, as well as its role its role in making the music actually happen through performance venues, recording marketing and distribution.
We’re reminded, at least by our visitors to the city, of the strength of our music scene: take in roots music at Hughes Room, an opera at the Four Seasons, some jazz at the Rex Hotel all in one weekend (one evening if you’re fast). And that’s not even scratching the surface of variety, style and format. We have one of the finest music training facility in North America (the RCM), our Air Canada Centre is ranked 8 of the top 10 concert venues in the world, and we’re Canada’s recoding capital, and industry where we’re ranked high in the global marketplace—with sales well over $500 million each year.
So check out this past Saturday and put these words to the test. We begin the day early, at an old TDSB school at Dufferin and Bloor where a rather motely group of kids gather with various instruments to practice for the Toronto School Board’s All City Band. Each year, the TDSB invites students from ages 3-8 to audition for a choir, concert band, string ensemble and orchestra in order to perform at Massey Hall in the spring. The concert has been held every year, for 125 years, without exception—taking it through 2 world wars and a mind-boggling array of new music, composers and compositions.
The concert band warms up and after a couple of hours had pass the kids already were sounding like pros. A few hours later we attend the first of two Juno Awards ceremonies—the penultimate celebration of Canada’s music scene this year held in Toronto. It’s their 40th Anniversary of the Juno Awards, first held at the small St. Lawrence Hall. The first half of the awards is a gala dinner that fills the AllStream Centre, the second (the broadcasted awards) packs an audience in the Air Canada Sunday the following night.
Among the countless “new” musicians that I don’t recognize I see some true heros of music in Canada. Neil Young, a Juno recipient this year and strong supporter for Canada’s music industry, is a Toronto boy (I remember his father “mumbling” to our neighbour about his son’s “band”, some 50 years ago now.)
Whether you’re the teacher volunteering to lead the band early on a Saturday morning or a first time Juno nominee watching your dream finally come to life, congratulations to all—for Toronto’s talent and diversity that continues to give us unending talent learned and heard, recorded, played, sold and sought after and just plain, enjoyed every day of every week.