In 1988, arts lover,
philanthropist and retired businessman Dr. Francis G. Winspear donated $6
million towards the building of Edmonton's first concert hall designed
specifically for the performance of classical music. Construction on the
1,800-seat hall began in March 1995 and Winspear's gift - matched by the
provincial government - was the largest single private donation ever made
to a performing arts facility in Canada.
Said Winspear: "My dream is to have a place where the people of our region
can make the most beautiful music they are capable of - and share it with
The hall, officially named The Francis Winspear Centre for Music, would
become the performing home for the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, the
Richard Eaton Singers (Edmonton's premier symphonic chorus) and Pro Coro
Canada (one of three professional choirs in Canada), as well as housing
the offices of the ESO and the Edmonton Opera. In 2002, the largest
concert organ in Canada was installed in the hall, with the inaugural
performance taking place in September of that year.
Since its opening in September 1997, the hall has been considered one of
the prime acoustic spaces in North America, and several classical
performances recorded there have won awards for the ESO.
Winspear died in January 1997 before seeing the hall opened; his widow
Harriet would be sitting in a box seat during the September opening-night
News and Current Events #53
In a story from the July 3, 1996
broadcast of the evening edition of Alberta Today, the hall is half-built,
on schedule and on budget.
In addition to the Winspear
story, the other stories of the day include:
Edmonton's plan to close Alberta Hospital, as well as the suspension of
services at other hospitals.
The Alberta Government will help Aboriginals prevent contracting AIDS.
News and weather.