Toronto’s New Music 101 – A successful model for Education and Outreach

Part of the “Public Engagement Success Stories” series

Toronto’s New Music 101 is a shining success story about how new music can move beyond the usual spaces to reach a broader community.

New Music 101 was originally part of the Canadian Music Centre’s New Music in New Places series in 2011. But for the last two years, the Toronto New Music Alliance has continued the program, with its third season just completed.

From the beginning, New Music 101 was envisioned as a convergence of music practitioners offering engaging, educational presentations to new audiences. Having artists lead discussions is important because it brings the public closer to what the artists do, giving the public a larger context to better connect with their music.

Creating more accessible public education about new music in Toronto has proven to be a successful way to build audience.  It has been thrilling to see audiences from the New Music 101 sessions attending concerts, or buying CDs featuring contemporary music.  Each session manages to spark curiosity among listeners.

But how did New Music 101 find this success?

Location and partnership is key:

New Music 101 collaborates with the Toronto Public Library who hosts the series at their flagship location, the Toronto Reference Library. This library is very busy with dozens of activities each month, so it gets the attention of many people. The location puts New Music 101 in touch with a whole new audience, most of whom are unfamiliar with the music presented. Check out the program on the Toronto Public Library web site.

Programming approach is also important:

The series always features new participants and puts together interesting and different combinations to ensure it continues to provide a discovery experience for everyone involved.  Check out the season’s program here.

Music critic John Terauds hosted each event this year, and he proved to be a great asset.  Apart from bringing exceptional knowledge, skill, and personality, Terauds acted as a bridge to new audiences.  For example, he was able to provide additional context when difficult or obscure concepts were brought up in a presentation, and he also prompted the presenters to effectively communicate their ideas. Check out some coverage on Teraud’s blog – here and here.

So often we, the artists justify our music amongst ourselves or with arts councils. New Music 101 instead lets us connect with the larger community of which we are a part and grants us greater awareness as well as visibility. This is a crucial step if we are to increase our relevance.

When we extrapolate from our regular concert programming while exploring new spaces, audiences, and collaborators, our music gains greater momentum.

by Matthew Fava with Emily Hall


David Hetherington performs at New Music 101’s April 22, 2013 event. Photo credit: Daniel Foley

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