With festival season fast approaching, what it is about certain festivals which draw people back year after year? We spoke to some regular attendees to get the ‘inside track’ on what makes their festival so special. Here, we discover the background behind Toronto Summer Music.

Heliconian Hall © Toronto Summer Music
Heliconian Hall
© Toronto Summer Music

What is it about this festival that makes you return year after year?

Its excellent and innovative programming, insiders events that provide insight on the music, and mentors and rising young  musicians playing together and making terrific music with enthusiasm and great skill. The opportunity to support the development of outstanding young professional musicians through the Academy, plus consistently high quality and innovative programming at a time of year when the classical music scene in Toronto has few alternatives.  

What tips would you offer would-be attendees about the best places to sit in the venue?

This is very personal, but at Koerner Hall I like to sit in the centre of the front row of the Lower Balcony for orchestral concerts or concerts which have a visual appeal that takes in the full stage. For smaller ensemble instrumental concerts I like a few rows back in the orchestra stalls left of centre.  The latter typically applies to all the concerts at our other venue, Walter Hall.

What are the acoustics like?

Acoustics are excellent in all venues. Koerner Hall is beautiful as well. Walter Hall provides a real intimacy and the Heliconian Hall has a good ambience.

Where are the best places to eat before/ after the concert?

Taking a picnic and sitting in the sun in Philosophers Walk is good before noon events and the Royal Conservatory has great coffee and good snacks. We also like The Host (Indian restaurant) and the Museum Tavern (up market pub fare).

Is there a dress code? What should I wear?

Comfortable casual suits most events. Anything goes. Generally people on the whole are more likely to dress up for Koerner Hall which offers more of a sense of occasion.  

Toronto festival-goers © Toronto Summer Music
Toronto festival-goers
© Toronto Summer Music

How far in advance is it best to book tickets? Any booking tips?

It’s good to book in advance to get the seats you want.

What other cultural activities are there to do in the region?

Because we are right in Toronto the area is full of other attractions.  Our venues are both within a few steps of the Royal Ontario Museum,  the Gardner Museum, the Bata Shoe Museum.  

What makes your festival different to all the others?

The Academy, the free daytime events (lectures, interviews, open rehearsals, master classes) which make for the opportunity to develop one’s understanding and appreciation of great music, the time of year when there are so few other classical music events in the city.

How is the best way to get to the venue? 

Public transit saves the hassle of downtown driving and parking. There are three close by subway stops, St. George, Museum and Bay. If you are over 65 make sure to get seniors tickets.