Nestled in the heart of downtown Montreal’s Quartier des spectacles cultural district, a new performance hall – formerly known as L’Astral –provides a platform for up-and-coming musicians and performers.
The new performance hall, known as Le Studio TD, opened its doors in March and arrives after a challenging two pandemic-years for the city of Montreal and the artists and musicians who call the city home.
Designed to accommodate audiences and concerts of all kinds, Le Studio TD is aimed at helping up-and-coming artists receive special support and profile. In addition to having the opportunity to perform on stage as part of the Série libre presented by TD, artists can also book time in the space to record a video about their life and a video for one of their songs, free of charge.
A concert by Montreal-based singer-songwriter Clerel officially inaugurated Le Studio TD on March 31, 2022. The Cameroonian-born soul singer said he was especially moved by the warm welcome he received from the audience, and that he believes Le Studio TD can help launch the careers of many musical artists.
"To be able to play in a venue like that, it’s amazing for artists," he said. "You create a bond with people. I had the chance to start off like that, and I know from experience that when we have access to a venue of that size, it drives musicians to perform well, and to give even more of themselves. This is an opportunity for artists to have a real stage."
A commitment to diversity and inclusion
The idea of creating a performance hall in Montreal to showcase diverse voices as part of its core activities immediately appealed to Claudine Bergeron, Senior Manager, Music Sponsorship at TD.
"Music brings us together and it’s extremely important for us to be able to provide opportunities for artists and fans to create special bonds and to help amplify voices from various styles," she said.
"By making music accessible, we are helping to create more inclusive communities. And that’s important to us."
Bergeron believes offering free access to a recording studio and a space to perform will provide upcoming artists with the opportunity to help them develop their full potential.
Laurent Saulnier, Vice-President of Programming for Groupe Spectra, which owns and manages the venue, said that following the performance by Clerel, his team received a number of requests from artists hoping to perform at Le Studio TD.
"At the beginning, we sensed some curiosity," he said. "People wanted to see what Le Studio TD looked like, whether the name change had an impact. Subsequently, the people who attended the inauguration had seen the venue’s transformation and its mission simply created the buzz."
Groupe Spectra aims for gender parity in the events it presents and wanted the new venue to reflect these values.
"It’s important for us to create an environment where upcoming diverse artists can perform for free several times a year," Saulnier said. "Not only are we helping to launch their career, but we’re making music accessible to people who might otherwise not be able to attend paid performances."
Staying optimistic in the face of challenges
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting restrictions severely tested the Montreal artistic community, Clerel says he stayed focused on his goals and used his free time to focus more on song writing and creating.
He said it was difficult being physically away from an audience but considers himself lucky to have been able to pursue his craft virtually while waiting for things to get back to normal.
“I certainly suffered, but I learned resilience, I learned to give myself the means to succeed even in tough times, and that’s what I did,” said Clerel.
Born in Cameroon and raised in a home where music was the daily rhythm of family life, Clerel learned to see the glass as half full no matter what, and being a musician for him means being optimistic.
“We believe in something beautiful that drives us forward, something beyond ourselves,” said Clerel.
As part of the TD Ready Commitment – the Bank's global corporate citizenship platform – TD is committed to helping bring people together through common experiences to foster the development of inclusive communities.
The next big event for Le Studio TD will be the Montreal International Jazz Festival kicking off on June 30. All concerts at Le Studio TD during the Festival will be free – the first time a venue of this size has offered free shows featuring local and international jazz musicians.
Série libre presented by TD, the program of free concerts at Le Studio TD, will provide fans with a number of concerts featuring upcoming artists and world-renowned artists. It’s an initiative with a focus on reminding people that music has the power to bring people together and help to create a more inclusive world.
Like Clerel, Bergeron believes in the innate optimism of musicians who can enthrall crowds. She said Le Studio TD brings a breath of fresh air and sense of renewal that could not have come at a better time.
"By giving life back to this performance hall, we are helping to revive the artistic community that suffered greatly under the pandemic, and at the same time helping to create opportunities to revitalize downtown Montreal, which has also suffered for many months due to lack of foot traffic," said Bergeron.
"It’s good for Montreal, it’s good for artists and it’s good for the community in general."