Studio Bell set to launch Calgary on to global music scene, says CEO Andrew Mosker

When Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, opens its doors on Canada Day on Friday, it’ll be the start of an ambitious plan to catapult Calgary on to the international music scene, says CEO and president Andrew Mosker.

'I think they’ll be surprised by the things we’ve done musically on the national and international stage.'

The National Music Centre opens to the public July 1. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

When Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre, opens its doors on Canada Day on Friday, it'll be the start of an ambitious plan to catapult Calgary on to the international music scene, said its CEO and president. 

"There's never been a place in this country where you can come and learn about Canada's music on the international stage," said Andrew Mosker. 

Mosker has high expectations for the future of the city's music scene, he told the Calgary Eyeopener's David Gray from the top of the centre on Wednesday, about 48 hours before opening day, with the sounds of construction going on in the background.  

People will learn how influential Canadian music is and has been throughout history through the centre's ever-changing interactive exhibits and regular live music performances. 

The country's homegrown musical talent — from country, to hip-hop, electronica, rock and classical — will be showcased in ways not seen before in Canada, all under its unique and ultra-contemporary roof, Mosker said.

See outfits worn by deadmau5, Avril Lavigne and other Canadian icons

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Musicians have either donated or lent these artifacts to the new Studio Bell. 0:40

International music hub

"Calgary is going to become an international music hub, in time," says Mosker. [The centre]  is going to set the tone for that for a number of reasons."

Among them will be the international visiting artists who will come to the centre to either to record or perform.

"Just think about the recording opportunities for artists like Daniel Lanois or Brian Eno or Arcade Fire, to come here and record … and use this equipment to build new sounds for future projects and what kind of impact it will be for Calgary to have those artists … touring through here and spending time here."

Special tiles lining the interior and exterior acoustically amplify and absorb sound

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The National Music Centre was designed with music performance in mind. Flexible spaces can be rearranged for pop-up concerts, and built-in concert halls will host international visiting artists. 0:28

Ongoing and ever-changing exhibits will happen regularly inside the five-storey structure designed to take on the characteristics of an instrument, says "starchitect" Brad Cloepfil, who designed the building.

That means wherever visitors are in the building, they'll hear music filtering throughout.

Three halls of fame under one roof

Mosker has been tireless in his passion about his hopes for the centre, which will also house the three national halls of fame — the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.

The centre was built to be a living museum with interactive experiences.

Interactive instruments invite kids and adults to try their hand at an electric bass or guitar

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Studio Bell aims to make music accessible to all people, regardless of age or experience, says president Andrew Mosker. 0:26

That starts from the moment people walk into the unique and ultra-contemporary design of the building, the eclectic collection of musical instruments spanning 450 years of history, including a drum kit of Rush's Neil Peart and an organ once used in silent movie theatres, as well as the Rolling Stones mobile recording unit.

Tour Neil Peart's drum kit in the Unplugged area

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The rock and roll drummer from Rush recorded a cover of the NHL's "The Hockey Theme" on these drums. 0:43

"They'll experience an incredible building which in and of itself is awe-inspiring. The exhibitions that tell our national music story …  in all genres of music," Mosker said.

"They'll experience dynamic programming that occurs often and gives visitors a chance to come back and experience more."

The Canada Day opening is fitting.

"I  think they'll learn a lot about Canada; I think they'll be surprised by the things we've done musically on the national and international stage. And I think they'll be inspired."

Mosker hopes local and aspiring student musicians will be, too. After all, the centre was born out of a local organization formerly known as Cantos, which has always supported the the local music scene, he said.

Mosker said the new Studio Bell will not only nurture the careers of established artists, but also inspire generations of new musical talent. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Supporting local musicians

"The national music centre was built by locals. Our predecessor foundation was about as grassroots as it comes.  We did about 200 shows a year in our old space and 95 per cent of those were local artists using our stage, using our equipment … and finding ways to incorporate it into their performance."

That will definitely continue, he says.

"We're going to create not only more artists, but we're also going to develop the audiences."

With files from The Eyeopener