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Image Courtesy of Myseum

the newspaper recently had the opportunity to chat with Sarah Munro, the director of public programs for Myseum, in preparation for their newest exhibit Myseum Presents: Music From People City. For those who may not be familiar, Myseum is a Toronto Museum that is constantly travelling and evolving to fit the city itself. It is taking place around the city with its exhibits not having one central home but instead, moving to venues that are a part of the exhibit itself. Music From People City aims to showcase the history and evolution of music in Toronto through various talks, tours, pop ups and shows. They have tapped into Toronto music mainstays with events like tours of Massey Hall, a Myseum x Sonic Boom pop up at the TIFF Lightbox, a talk on Moses Znaimer at Zoomerplex and a music tour in Kensington Market. That list of events is not extensive. From November 10th, 2017 until January 12th, 2018, they will be hosting events all over the city.

An exhibit of this magnitude is the result of many hardworking and dedicated individuals. Sarah Munro was kind enough to give us some insight into this process below:

the newspaper: The collection of 'pop up' exhibits, lectures and shows for the Myseum Presents: Music From People City Event is quite diverse and extensive. What was the process behind curating this array?

Sarah Munro: Toronto is an artist-shaping and hit-making hub with a huge impact on the international music stage. While it's easy to be pessimistic about the closure of concert venues, or the infiltration of American artists in Toronto, we wanted to focus on what Torontonians can really be proud of within our music scene. We thought: what have passionate people accomplished – and sustained – over the years, often against all odds?

This November Myseum of Toronto and our arts and cultural partners launch Myseum Presents: Music From People City, a series that puts some of Toronto’s most iconic musical assets on display. The programming is organized around ten themes—a sort of "Toronto Top 10"—that represent a selection of this city's musical attributes. Those 10 themes cover everything from world-class concert venues to music-friendly neighbourhoods, Toronto anthem makers to iconic record shops. All of the exhibits, events, talks, tours and more are held across the city and speak directly to those themes. Ultimately, this series is about inviting locals, visitors, and travellers to get to know and experience Toronto’s history, through the city’s scenes, stories, and sounds.

tn: For someone who may be unfamiliar with the 'pop up' concept how would you explain what this event is and how all the different facets come together?

SM: Myseum Presents: Music From People City offers a citywide celebration of exhibits, events, and experiences that showcase how Toronto got its groove. In essence it’s transforming Toronto into a citywide music museum. Meaning that on any given day, and at a number of locations, you can explore a part of Toronto’s music history: from downloading an audio tour of Kensington Market’s spaces and sounds, to catching a talk on Toronto's changing reggae scene, checking out a performance of up-and-coming TO talent, or helping jumpstart your own music career. There's so much to explore, and it's all anchored by our Myseum x Sonic Boom hub: a pop-up record shop presented in partnership with Sonic Boom at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, where you can shop, spin records, and get to know Toronto's musical legacies – plus learn about upcoming Myseum Presents: Music From People City events. 

tn: How do you define Myseum of Toronto?

SM: People often ask if there's a museum for Toronto. Myseum is your Toronto museum. Our programs and experiences showcase the history, spaces, cultures, architecture, and the people, that represent Toronto’s unique place in the world. But it's not just a matter of understanding Toronto's place in the world; it's also about understanding your place in Toronto. What Toronto narratives do you gravitate towards? What stories can you tell? What can you take ownership over? That's the MY in Myseum.  Our goal is to help locals and newcomers really get to know our city together.

tn: What are some of the more unique exhibits coming out of this event that you are excited about? Another way of looking at this would be if someone (sadly) could only make it to one or two events, which will they not want to miss and why?

SM: Our Massey Hall event ‘Shining a Light on Massey Hall’ offers a behind-the-scenes tour of the Hall – now 123 years young! – just as Massey is embarking on an ambitious revitalization project. To stand on the same stage where everyone from Charlie Parker to Neil Young has performed, to tour the dressing rooms and see the original show posters and images, and to soak up so much Toronto music history in one space is really special. Tours will be led by Canadian Grammy award-winner and music historian Rob Bowman, who knows pretty much everything there is to know about music, and isn't shy about sharing it! 

Another of our partners, Young Offenders, has teamed up with Toronto's favourite supergroup party band, Dwayne Gretzky, to throw a massive New Year's Eve party at the CNE's Enercare Centre. There will be Toronto eats and art, in addition to the band playing to help us ring in the new year. It's going to be an incredible night.

Of course, that doesn't even count the public talk with radio host Alan Cross, or the music video screening with some of Toronto's hottest video directors, including Juno award-winner Joel Goldberg (Maestro Fresh-Wes, Let Your Backbone Slide – Best Video).The list goes on!

For more information about all of the pop up events happening from November 10 – January 12, 2018, visit http://www.myseumoftoronto.com/program/myseum-presents/

tn: Why did Myseum think that that now was the time to highlight Toronto's music community and culture? Was there any catalyst for this?

SM: The true inspiration for this project was the original Toronto anthem, "People City." It was a track that was commissioned as a love song for the city by media pioneer Moses Znaimer, and it truly spoke to that era in Toronto's history where the city was diversifying and where Toronto's music scene started to absolutely explode. "People City" as an anthem was the catalyst for a broader conversation around the people that have helped to make Toronto a music city: everyone from Sam Sniderman of Sam the Record Man fame, to hip hop pioneers like Maestro Fresh-Wes.

The conversation around closing concert venues is also very front of mind right now: What spaces still exist for live music, and how can we help them to survive and thrive? At the same time that we're mourning the loss of sites like the Silver Dollar Room, we're also celebrating the worldwide success of local artists like Drake and The Weeknd. It's a polarizing time in Toronto's music history, and Myseum felt it was worth a closer look.        

tn: What does Myseum hope the people of Toronto will gain from this event series?

SM: From reggae to rap, jazz to classical and beyond, Toronto is a city that is filled with unique sounds, incredible music venues, diverse artists, and groundbreaking radio and TV stations. The Music From People City programming was created to help give voice to the people and influences that have shaped Toronto’s music scene, while providing a more personal look at all that Toronto has to offer to the music world. 

Myseum’s hope is that people will be able to appreciate and learn more about Toronto's music legacy, and possibly even be inspired to dig a little deeper. And for all of those music-makers and dancefloor-takers that have never stopped building and believing in Toronto's music scene, we're offering a platform to make their passion known and ideally, helping them continue to make Toronto a musical city.


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