Toronto’s Inspirational Music Garden – an Oasis in the City

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Musicians play under the willow tree as birds fly above and the lake creates an open view.
Musicians play under the willow tree as birds fly above and the lake creates an open view.

By Diana Condolo

Have you been to the Music Garden? It is a beautiful retreat in the city, a place to cool the body and soothe the mind, naturally, while surrounded with nature’s beauty. If you are seeking entertainment, there is free live music in the Gardens. Additionally, there is much on offer at the neighbouring Harbourfront Centre. Have you explored it fully? I’d love to share with you how much delight could be had in one Thursday summer’s eve.

Take a tour of the Music Garden on a Thursday, just before the concert
Take a tour of the Music Garden on a Thursday, just before the concert

The brainchild of landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy and renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the garden was inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach’s Suite #1 for Unaccompanied Cello. I highly recommend you learn about the Toronto Music Garden’s unique design and history on a guided, one-hour tour, led by a volunteer Toronto Botanical Garden guide. Tours are offered every Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Thursday at 5:30 p.m. throughout the summer and begin in the west end of the garden’s Prelude section.

Our tour guide told us that the garden is composed of six “movements” whose form and feeling correspond to that suggested by the Suite #1. She guided us through the garden, telling us about the music that inspired its creation and playing some pieces of the Suite for us to go deeper into the Music Garden experience. Our volunteer had an abundance of information to share about botany, pointing out a tree whose forefathers have been around since the dinosaurs and asking us if we knew what Ontario’s tree is? We didn’t know, but if you guessed the Eastern White Pine, I’d say you are really well informed and want you on my trivia team!

A unique and magical venue, the Toronto Music Garden is the only garden in the world to be directly inspired by a specific piece of music
A unique and magical venue, the Toronto Music Garden is the only garden in the world to be directly inspired by a specific piece of music

After the tour, you’ll have enough time to find some prime space to settle in for Summer Music in the Garden. Some concerts can get busy but you’ll always find a place.

The music selection ranges from Bach to Taiko drumming, Lafayette String Quartet to Panache (the all-female fiddling super group), Canada to Iran to Jewish klezmer ensembles. Explore a world of music at the free Summer Music in the Garden series. Concerts are on most weeks on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Sunday, from July 3 to September 14, 2014 for one hour.

Enjoy the summer sun in the Summer Music in the Garden series
Enjoy the summer sun in the Summer Music in the Garden series

Bring something to sit on as there are very few benches (which I leave for those who need them more) and something to drink and you will be in for a treat. This July evening featured North Indian classical ragas associated with gardens, including the great love story of Krishna and Radha in the garden of Vrindavan. I chose to attend this concert as my friend loves all things Indian and knew she would love to join me. The music was so captivating that we felt transported to another place.

Musicians play under the willow tree as birds fly above and the lake creates an open view.
Musicians play under the willow tree as birds fly above and the lake creates an open view.

After the concert, it was still bright out so we decided to walk east and enjoy Dancing on the Pier. This beautiful evening’s theme was Cuban Roots led by Sean Bellaviti. The pier was flooded with dancers strutting their stuff. An elderly couple danced as though they have danced together for over a half century – knowing exactly how the other moved. Some looked like they were quite new to dancing while others were very experienced and oh so polished. How I wished I could dance like that…but without the effort of practicing. Everyone danced in their own style making it quite fun to watch.

Any gender mix pairing works on the dance floor. Just get your groove on and shake your tail on the shores of Lake Ontario on Thursday between 7 and 10PM. Check out the variety of music and schedule at Dancing on the Pier.

There is so much going on Thursdays that you have to pick and choose. Want to be active in a zen way? Try the free outdoor yoga classes for all levels in the beautiful new Exhibition Common. Every Thursday until the end of August, 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Don’t forget your mat!

You can take a break from the action and enjoy a fun float on a canoe or paddleboat on the Natrel Pond, located beside the picturesque Harbourfront Centre boardwalk. 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
More info.

What about food? The belly must always be happy! There is a nice selection of places to eat or get refreshments, such as The Music Garden Cafe or Lick It Gelato. Check out other options on Blogto.com.

Treat yourself, family and friends to a few free music concerts this summer, featuring well-known artists exploring a diverse range of international themes and music styles. Your summer will be all the richer for it.

www.harbourfrontcentre.com
www.harbourfrontcentre.com/summermusic
Best to check the website for transportation options.

2 COMMENTS

  1. There’s so much happening by the waterfront. I don’t remember the last time I walked along the boardwalk. Thanks to this post, I’m definitely going to make an effort to go there by summer’s end.

    • Glad to hear that, Grace! We are so lucky to have it and I hope people are enjoying it to the fullest. Enjoy summer!

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