Koerner HallKnown simply as Koerner Hall, the Michael and Sonja Koerner Concert Hall is located in the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) at 273 Bloor St West, Toronto as part of the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning.
Koerner Hall, which seats 1,135 and took about 3 years to build at an approximate cost of $110 million, actually dates back to 1991. It was designed by Marianne McKenna of the architectural firm Kuwarabara Payne McKenna Blumberg which has worked on projects for such Canadian cultural institutions as the National Ballet School of Canada , the Canadian Museum of Nature, and the Art Gallery of Hamilton. A multi-use venue, its stage and platform can be adapted to accommodate chamber ensembles, an orchestra pit, additional seating rows or a choir balcony as needed. Its elegant three-story interior boasts glass lobbies with excellent views and options for refreshments during intermissions. Koerner Hall in addition to being a showcase for RCM students, international performers, varied performances, lectures and film is available as a rental space for gala functions.
Designed for ideal performance and recording, rubber pads isolate the venue and its teaching studios below from sound and vibrations from nearby St George subway, and an aerodynamic design eliminates mechanical noises. Its natural white oak interior is complemented by bronze detailing. Balconies encircle the stage, and the stage canopy houses and conceals lighting and speakers.
The hall opened with a gala concert on 25 Sep, 2009 on what would have been pianist Glenn Gould's 77th birthday, with Mervon Mehta as executive director. On the programme were R. Murray Schafer's Spirits of the House, Mieczyslaw Weinberg's piano quintet, and works by Leonard Bernstein, György Ligeti and Beethoven. Artists included the RCM Orchestra under Jean-Philippe Tremblay, pianist Anton Kuerti, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, soprano Erin Wall, mezzo Wallis Giunta, tenor Richard Margison, and bass Robert Pomakov.
Despite the glamour within, there was an element of discord outside the hall on opening night. RCM faculty, who are members of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation, gathered peacefully in protest. Demonstrating good faith, they offered carnations to audience members, while holding placards reminding the public that it is the RCM's human resources not bricks and mortar that constitute the foundation of the organization. The teachers were working without contracts while resources were available for the hall.
Koerner Hall, has won the Chicago Athenaeum International Architectural Award (2010) and the TELUS Centre has been the recipient of additional prizes.