Toronto is a city with plenty of performing arts venues, from the small and intimate to the grand-in-every-way. We have seen a lot of money poured into the grander spaces over the last decade, places like the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the TELUS Centre at the Royal Conservatory of Music, and soon the Massey Hall Renovation. Now, there's another facility in town of a more intimate nature getting a major makeover.

Improved space is being created for music, arts and culture in the Annex at the Trinity-St Paul Revitalization Project, and in particular for Tafelmusik, Toronto's cherished baroque orchestra and choir, founded in 1979. The heritage building, an 1889 United Church located on Bloor, is currently undergoing renovations that will sustain and expand the Tafelmusik program and that of other arts organizations which also use the venue.

Trinity-St.Paul United Church, Annex, TorontoTrinity-St.Paul United Church, image courtesy of Google Maps

Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Chamber Choir — who have been centred at the venue since 1981 — have announced that philanthropist, the Honourable Henry N.R Jackman, has presented a $1 million leadership gift towards the $3 million Venue Revitalization Project at Trinity-St.Paul's Centre. The Canada Cultural Spaces programme of Canadian Heritage has also contributed to the project with a $500,000 donation. With other donations, Tafelmusik has now raised slightly over $2.5 million, and is close to realizing the fundraising goal. The venue will be titled the Trinity-St.Paul's Centre, Jeanne Lamon Hall, named after the devoted Music Director who will be celebrating her final year with Tafelmusik after three decades of contribution. 

Trinity-St.Paul United Church, Annex, TorontoStage, image courtesy of ERA Architects and Tafelmusik

Tafelmusik has played in some of the best concert halls around the world, and this revitalization will bring improved qualities to their own Annex home.

Trinity-St.Paul United Church, Annex, TorontoSeating, image courtesy of ERA Architects and Tafelmusik

The renovations are taking place in two phases, with Phase One set to be complete by September 2013. Designed by heritage building specialists, E.R.A Architects Inc. and currently being constructed by Clifford Restoration, Phase One of the renovations focuses on transforming concert experiences for future audiences. Some of the main enhancements include:

  • perfecting the acoustics in the performance hall
  • providing more comfortable seating
  • building a permanent and expanded stage
  • improvement of audience sightlines
  • creating a more visually appealing interior

Phase Two of the project will take place in 2014 and 2015, and will deal with increasing accessibility, aesthetic improvements and the addition of new lighting and multimedia equipment.

Trinity-St.Paul United Church, Annex, TorontoGround Floor Plan, image courtesy of ERA Architects and Tafelmusik

An exciting addition to Toronto's cultural and historical scene, UrbanToronto will keep a close eye on the progress here, and will post further updates. In the meantime, feel free to check out Tafelmusik's website for more details on the project.