Written by Maya-Rose Torrão
Often called “the holy grail of synthesizers”, TONTO, or The Original New Timbral Orchestra, is a legendary synthesiser that was built by Malcolm Cecil in the early ’70s and is the largest polyphonic analog synth in the world. TONTO consists of several Oberheim models, two ARP 2600s, two Moog Series III, Serge modules and many other custom modules, along with sequencers and MIDI control. It was used extensively in the ’70s on classic albums by Stevie Wonder as well as records by the likes of Quincy Jones, The Isley Brothers, Weather Report and Gil Scott-Heron.
TONTO was sold to Calgary’s National Music Centre in 2013, where it was refurbished and restored by centre employee John Leimseider. The centre has now announced that TONTO will be on display in conjunction with a week of events that will include a performance from members of A Tribe Called Red using TONTO, along with lectures and demonstrations from Malcolm Cecil and select film screenings.
The events will take place during the annual Alberta Electronic Music Conference in Calgary and will take place from November 14th through 18th.
Watch a promo video of TONTO, in anticipation of this historic event, below.