National Music Centre

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Street entrance to Studio Bell home of the National Music Center
National Music Centre
Alternative names StudioBell
General information
Status Complete
Type Music Museum
Location Calgary, Alberta
Coordinates 51°02′43″N 114°03′18″W / 51.0453°N 114.0549°W / 51.0453; -114.0549Coordinates: 51°02′43″N 114°03′18″W / 51.0453°N 114.0549°W / 51.0453; -114.0549
Construction started 2013
Completed 2016
Cost $191 million
Owner National Music Centre
Technical details
Floor count 5
Floor area 160,000 sq ft (15,000 m2)
Design and construction
Architecture firm Allied Works Architecture
Services engineer SMP Engineering

The National Music Centre or NMC is a non-profit organization located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Its new building, branded Studio Bell,[1] is located at 850 4th Street S.E. in Downtown East Village, Calgary. The centre includes a music-related museum collection and a performance centre, and organizes a variety of events designed to develop and promote music in Canada.



The National Music Centre and its collections origins can be traced to the installation of a pipe organ (known as the Carthy Organ) in Calgary’s Jack Singer Concert Hall in 1987.[2] The installation of this instrument was the genesis of the International Organ Festival and Competition operated by TriumphEnt from 1990 to 2002.[3] It also subsequently led to the creation of a new organization known as the Chinook Keyboard Centre, which began developing a collection of keyboard instruments in mid-1996. Chinook Keyboard Centre was soon renamed Cantos Music Museum and expanded the scope of its collection beyond keyboard instruments to include electronic instruments and sound equipment beginning in the year 2000, it also began to offer limited programming in the way of gallery tours and concerts.

Customs House[edit]

In 2003, TriumphEnt and Cantos Music Museum joined forces to become the Cantos Music Foundation, located at the historic Customs House building, 134-11th Avenue S.E, and expanded its presentation of music programs using the collection and gallery spaces. In 2005, an exhibition commemorating 100 years of music in Alberta to mark the Centennial led to plans to expand the organization’s scope to chronicle, celebrate, and foster a broader vision for music in Canada. In February 2012, Cantos became the National Music Centre.[4]

As the centre began to outgrow its space, plans for construction of a 60,000 square-foot facility in Calgary’s East Village with a projected cost of $168 million. With a design by Portland architect Brad Cloepfil, construction began on February 22, 2013.[5] The final steel beam was set into place on December 12, 2014.[6] The building eventually cost $191 million.

The National Music Centre held its last public tour at the Customs House on December 28, 2014. After that the location shut down in order to begin the move to the new centre. East Village.[7]

Studio Bell[edit]

National Music Centre Interior
Performance Hall of the National Music Centre

The National Music Centre's Studio Bell opened in 2016 on Canada Day, July 1, 2016, with an estimated 5600 people attending. Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo and Great Big Sea's Alan Doyle performed at the official opening.[8]

National Music Centre’s new space showcases the collection, which includes over 2,000 rare instruments and artifacts including the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, the TONTO synthesizer, and one of Elton John's pianos, along with the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame collections.[9][10] Its interior is clad with 226,000 custom glazed terracotta tiles which were made in Germany and fired in the Netherlands.[11] Bell Canada paid $10 million for naming rights for the centre, for 12 years.[1]

The centre organizes interactive education programming, artist incubation, exhibitions and performances daily, as well as an artist-in-residence program.[12]

Features of the National Music Centre include broadcast facilities of the CKUA Radio[13] and a 300-seat performance hall that has already hosted a variety of events, including the Tragically Hip’s last concert which was streamed on CBC. Included as part of the centre is the historic King Edward Hotel, which was dismantled and rebuilt, and operates as a seven nights a week live music venue.[14][15]


  1. ^ a b Bain, Jennifer (8 September 2016). "7 reasons to love Canada's new National Music Centre". Toronto Star. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-12-16. Retrieved 2014-12-16. 
  3. ^ Norman, Barbara. "Calgary International Organ Festival". Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  4. ^ "Visit | Studio Bell". Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  5. ^ "Infrastructure Canada - National Music Centre breaks ground in Calgary". 2013-02-22. Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  6. ^ "Building toward a delightful crescendo at the National Music Centre in Calgary". The Globe and Mail. 2014-12-11. Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  7. ^ "National Music Centre to close its current space as it prepares to move to its new building in 2016". Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  8. ^ "Jim Cuddy talks about his love of Alberta, Blue Rodeo's next album and the 'magnificent' Gord Downie". Mike Bell, Calgary Herald July 8, 2016
  9. ^ "Can the National Music Centre survive in Calgary?". MacLeans, Jason Markusoff, September 1, 2016
  10. ^ "Calgary's National Music Centre begins to take shape in revitalized East Village". Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  11. ^ "Music of the Spheres". Graham Livesey, Canadian Architect.
  12. ^ "Séan McCann talks music and mental health at Calgary’s National Music Centre". Aaron Chatha, Metro, January 24, 2017
  13. ^ "Calgary Foundation CKUA Studio - CKUA Radio Network". 29 June 2016. Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  14. ^ "King Eddy hotel dismantled, pieces stored meticulously - Calgary - CBC News". 2013-12-13. Retrieved 2016-09-15. 
  15. ^ "Last chance to buy a historic brick in Calgary's King Eddy". Metro News, Aaron Chatha. Feb 05 2017.

External links[edit]