Toronto Music Garden
Performance Schedule | Curatorial Statement | About the Garden & Tours

Toronto Music Garden

A reflection in landscape of Bach's Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello, BWV 1007

This delightful garden a reflection in landscape of Bach's Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello, BWV 1007 was designed by internationally renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma and landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy, in collaboration with landscape architects from the City of Toronto's Parks and Recreation department.

Two Canadian artists created special features for the Music Garden: Tom Tollefson, architectural blacksmith, fabricated the Music Pavilion; and Anne Roberts, Feir Mill Design Inc., designed the Maypole.

Click here to view the Summer Music in the Garden 2013 peformance schedule.

General Information

Getting to the Garden and more

The Toronto Music Garden is a City of Toronto park, located at 475 Queen's Quay West on the waterfront between Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue. Map it here.

Please note that construction is underway that will completely rebuild and revitalize Queens Quay both above and below ground. Unfortunately, this has disrupted the regular TTC routes leading to the Toronto Music Garden. During construction, take Bathurst Street south to Queen's Quay West. Visit the TTC website or call the Toronto Transit Commision at 416-393-4636 for service information.

The Toronto Music Garden is open year-round and there is no admission fee. The Toronto Music Garden is wheelchair-accessible.

Photography, video or audio recording in the Garden is permitted, except during Summer Music in the Garden performances which require prior authorization from the performers and Harbourfront Centre.

For information on the Toronto Music Garden and its programs, or to receive information on upcoming events, call the Harbourfront Centre Info Line at 416-973-4000.

Sign up now for our Summer Music in the Garden eNews, and we'll keep you updated all summer long!

Touring the Toronto Music Garden

Learn about the Garden's unique design and history

Guided Tours

Our popular garden tours return for another season. Learn about the garden's unique design and history on a guided, 45-minute tour led by a volunteer Toronto Botanical Garden guide. Tours begin in the west end of the garden's Prelude section and will run as scheduled unless there is heavy rain, lightning or severe heat. Reservations are not required.

  • Wednesdays at 11am
    June 5 to September 25
  • Thursdays at 5:30pm
    July 4 to September 12

Click here for the Toronto Music Garden tour handout.

Take Your Own Audio Tour

Hand-held audio players offer commentary by the Garden's designers Yo-Yo Ma and Julie Moir Messervy, detailing each unique section, as well as excerpts from Bach's First Suite for Unaccompanied Cello. You can rent one for $6 at the Marina Quay West office at 539 Queens Quay West (on the pier immediately south of the Garden). A security deposit is required. Audio tours are approximately 70 minutes in length.

Bring the history of the
Toronto Music Garden home!

Visit Toronto Parks and Trees online to order your copy of the book The Toronto Music Garden: Inspired by Bach, an in-depth guide by author and landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy to the creation of the three-acre public garden.

You can also purchase a copy at The Centre Shop at Harbourfront Centre.

About Toronto Parks and Trees

The Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation is a charitable Public Foundation dedicated to enhancing Toronto's parks. Visit them online at torontoparksandtrees.org.

About Toronto Botanical Garden

Toronto Botanical Garden offers an array of 12 award-winning themed gardens spanning nearly four acres, designed to educate and inspire. Visit them online at torontobotanicalgarden.ca.

The Garden's Design

Hearing the Toronto Music Garden

Each dance movement within Bach's Suite No. 1 in G Major for unaccompanied cello, BWV 1007 corresponds to a different section of the Toronto Music Garden:

PRELUDE

An undulating river scape with curves and bends

The first movement of the suite imparts the feeling of a flowing river through which the visitor can stroll. Granite boulders from the southern edge of the Canadian Shield are placed to represent a stream bed with low-growing plants softening its banks. The whole is overtopped by an alley of native Hackberry trees (Celtis occidentalis), whose straight trunks and regular spacing suggest measures of music.

ALLEMANDE

A forest grove of wandering trails

The allemande is an ancient German dance. Interpreted here as a Birch forest, the movement invites the visitor to swirl inward to various contemplative sitting areas, that move higher and higher up the hillside, culminating in a rocky vantage point that looks over the harbour through a circle of Dawn Redwood trees.

COURANTE

A swirling path through a wildflower meadow

Originally an Italian and French dance form, the courante is an exuberant movement that is interpreted here as a huge, upward-spiralling swirl through a lush field of grasses and brightly-coloured perennials that attract birds and butterflies. At the top, a Maypole spins in the wind.

SARABANDE

A conifer grove in the shape of an arc

This movement is based on an ancient Spanish dance form. Its contemplative quality is interpreted here as an inward-arcing circle that is enclosed by tall needle-leaf evergreen trees. Envisioned as a poet's corner, the garden's centerpiece is a huge stone that acts as a stage for readings, and holds a small pool with water that reflects the sky.

MINUETS

A formal flower parterre

This French dance was contemporary to Bach's time. Its formality and grace are reflected in the symmetry and geometry of this movement's design. Hand-crafted with ornamental steel, a circular pavilion is designed to shelter small musical ensembles or dance groups.

GIGUE

Giant grass steps that dance you down to the outside world

The gigue, or "jog", is an English dance, whose jaunty, rollicking music is interpreted here as a series of giant grass steps that offer views onto the harbour. The steps form a curved amphitheatre that focus on a stone stage set under a weeping willow tree; a place for informal performances. Shrubs and perennials act as large, enclosing arms, framing views out onto the harbour.

Summer Music in the Garden 2013

Celebrating 14 years of FREE concerts in a magical setting!

Let yourself be carried away by the classic sounds of brass, wood and percussive instruments as our annual Summer Music in the Garden series returns for 2013.

FREE concerts take place in the Toronto Music Garden on most Thursdays at 7pm and Sundays at 4pm and are approximately one hour in length. Bench seating is available but limited, so feel free to bring a lawn chair and don't forget your hat or umbrella and sunscreen as shade is also limited.

Concerts proceed weather permitting. Please call our info desk at 416-973-4000 for up-to-the-minute rain calls.

Click here to view the Summer Music in the Garden 2013 performance schedule.

The annual Summer Music in the Garden series and tours are produced by Harbourfront Centre in partnership with City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation and Economic Development & Culture Divisions and the generous support of TD Bank Group. Thank you to Margaret & Jim Fleck, George & Katherine Dembroski, David Graham, KM Hunter Charitable Foundation, Michael & Sonja Koerner, Judy & Wil Matthews, Sandra & Jim Pitblado, Ben Saskin, and William & Phyllis Waters.

The artistic director of Summer Music in the Garden is Tamara Bernstein.

Sign up now for our Summer Music in the Garden eNews, and we'll keep you updated all summer long!

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