I can’t help feeling that Doors Open Toronto, our annual celebration of interesting architectural spaces, is missing an opportunity to extend itself by mixing more arts activity — especially music — into its programming.
Out of the 135 buildings that are opening themselves to the public this weekend, only a handful — most of them churches — offer music as part of the attraction.
I realise that these two days are about our great immovable objects, but they are irrelevant without the people that move, work and live inside and around them. They remain part of our living history, which includes literature, theatre, dance, visual art — and music.
Yes, it would require more energy and time and creativity to marry artistic expression with each building, but it would make for an even more compelling journey through the city.
Imagine a two-day-long journey, carefully mapped and timed like a fine tasting menu…
In case you are looking for a splash of music or dance along with your architectural tour, here is a fair sampling of what to expect:
- The Chapel of St Alban-the-Martyr, 120 Howland Ave.
The boys of Royal St George’s College will sing on Saturday afternoon in the recently refurbished, soaring Victorian Gothic space that is, essentially, the chancel and quire of the unfinished former Anglican Cathedral of St Alban-the-Martyr, a failed late-Victorian attempt to replace St James Cathedral with the biggest cathedral building in Canada in a remote strip of farmland that would become known as the Annex (there are eerie 21st century echoes in the Orthodox cathedral on the side of highway 404 in Markham). Organ recitals are scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday, as well.
- Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church, 427 Bloor St W.
Tafelmusik’s home base hosts an abundance of arts and social justice groups who have planned interesting performances throughout the weekend.
- Church of the Holy Trinity, Eaton Centre
This musically diverse working church has fantastic acoustics, one of the city’s finest pipe organs, which will be played on both days this weekend. Sunday hours begin later, at 1:30 p.m.
- Metropolitan United Church, Church and Queen Sts
On Saturday, Canada’s biggest pipe organ will get a workout, thanks to the congregation’s music director Patricia Wright, starting at 10 a.m. The church’s resident silver band is also playing, between 1 and 3 p.m.
- Cathedral Church of St James, Church and King Sts
There are organ recitals on both days, as well as a chance to hear the choir in rehearsal on Sunday at 3 p.m.
- St Lawrence Hall, 157 King St E.
Opera Atelier, which has its offices in the building, hosts a demonstration of historical dance styles by its corps de ballet on Sunday at 3 p.m. Details here.
- Emanuel Howard Park United Church, 240 Roncesvalles Ave.
This late-1920s building sits right across from some very fine indie coffee on Roncesvalles Ave. The musical attraction is an organ recital on Sunday at 3 p.m.
- High Park Branch, Toronto Public Library, 228 Roncesvalles Ave.
The library has organized improvised dance performances inspired by books during both afternoons.
Worth a detour
- The Gretchen Ross Production Centre of the National Ballet of Canada
Yes, it is worth the drive to darkest post-industrial Scarborough to see where the National Ballet’s sets come from.
Details and directions here.