TONTO Week At National Music Centre to Launch As Part Of AEMCON 2018

(Calgary, AB — September 13, 2018)  After years of careful restoration, the National Music Centre (NMC) will commission one of the crown jewels of its music and technology collection, The Original New Timbral Orchestra (aka TONTO), during TONTO Week from November 14-18.

To commemorate this milestone, NMC will host a week of music programming timed to coincide with Alberta Electronic Music Conference (AEMCON), running concurrently with TONTO Week at Studio Bell. All AEMCON Pass-holders receive free entry into all TONTO week content. NMC Members receive discounted or free admission to all TONTO Week events (not including AEMCON conference passes), so purchase your membership online today at studiobell.ca/membersIndividual tickets are available at nmc.ca/whats-on. AEMCON conference passes are available here.

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Members of A Tribe Called Red will be the first musicians to create new music with the legendary synthesizer, and they’ll demo TONTO during a public workshop and incorporate the instrument into an evening Studio Bell After Hours set. “After seeing TONTO for the first time back in 2014, I knew that I had unfinished business at the National Music Centre,” said 2oolman of A Tribe Called Red. “I have been waiting patiently ever since to get my hands on that instrument.” 

Malcolm Cecil, one of the co-creators of TONTO, will be in attendance to deliver demonstrations and lectures on the history of the instrument. NMC will also host a screening of the cult classic filmPhantom of the Paradise, in which TONTO appeared, and other activities associated with the instrument. 

TONTO is one of the world’s largest modular synthesizers. Created by Malcom Cecil and Robert Margouleff in 1968, its creation marked the first attempt at making a universal language for different synthesizers to communicate with each other, which was a revolutionary achievement. Under the band name Tonto’s Expanding Head Band, Cecil and Margouleff released the highly influential album Zero Time. The album demonstrated the rich, layered sounds of the massive synthesizer and attracted significant attention.

Used on multiple Stevie Wonder and The Isley Brothers albums in the 1970s, TONTO helped shape albums by a long list of notable artists such as Minnie Riperton, Joan Baez, the Doobie Brothers, Quincy Jones, Randy Newman, Bobby Womack and more, and was prominently featured in Phantom of the Paradise.

“I needed to find a home for TONTO that would survive me and where it could be used,” said Malcolm Cecil after NMC acquired the instrument in 2013.

“We made a promise to Malcom to ensure that TONTO would be used again in the creation of new music and that its legacy would live on,” said Adam Fox, NMC’s Director of Programs. “It took several years to properly restore the instrument, and now it’s finally ready to enter its next chapter. We couldn’t be more excited to hear where NMC’s Artists in Residence take TONTO next.”

Official Tonto Content

TONTO Week content is open to the public as well as AEMCON pass holders. If you wish to purchase a single ticket for a TONTO event, please consult the NMC website. For AEMCON Tickets, click here.