Out for Lunch Noon Hour Concert Series

“The core of the city can be a faceless, artless place during the daytime. Most concerts and events are scheduled at night. What a great oasis the Out For Lunch series is for people downtown. They can walk into an event during their lunch break and have their lives enhanced.” - Jesse Read, Bassoonist and “Out for Lunch” performer.


Created by Gene Ramsbottom as a Centennial Project for Vancouver’s birthday in 1986, the Out for Lunch concert series, hosted and supported by the Vancouver Art Gallery since its inception, has brought thousands of local and international musicians to the attention of Vancouver audiences.

Sponsored by Gene Ramsbottom


What is “Out for Lunch”?

“Out for Lunch” is a popular noon-hour concert series held at the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) on select Fridays. The shows are performed in an oak-panelled room on the third floor of the Gallery’s annex and are free with membership or paid gallery admission – and often filled to capacity. The series was created by clarinetist Gene Ramsbottom as a Centennial Project for Vancouver’s 100th birthday in 1986. Determined to create a lasting legacy of European-style noon-hour concerts in the downtown core, Ramsbottom encouraged VAG to revisit their past commitment to showcasing musical and performing arts.

VAG had a long history of hosting classical music, beginning in the 1940s when they held recorded symphony concerts on Friday evenings as morale boosters for war workers. The gallery agreed to Ramsbottom’s initiative to re-establish noon-hour concerts, and their partnership has endured for over three decades. Ramsbottom points out that few cultural legacy projects of Expo 86 or the 2010 Olympics have had as much sticking power.

With 874 concerts to date, the series has introduced thousands of musicians to Vancouver audiences, including international choirs, local orchestras, chamber ensembles and student performers. Ramsbottom has produced and co-sponsored these events for 32 years without taxpayer support. Although he performs at only a handful of the concerts each year, Ramsbottom personally funds many of the concerts to give back and spotlight the artists. In turn, VAG Gallery supports the series by sharing its venue, offering ongoing publicity and staff support and other co-sponsorship responsibilities.

“We are collectively enriched by the Out for Lunch concert series that Gene Ramsbottom works tirelessly to organize,” said concert-goer and music teacher Marianna Ussner. “Living at a time when city life is so fast and demanding, these concerts provide us with a cultural hearth.” When the Vancouver Heritage Foundation asked the public to submit nominations for “Places That Matter” in Vancouver, “Out for Lunch” received more nominations than any other site.

When’s the next show?
The concert series runs on selected Fridays from September to June. Check the website for details or follow the Out for Lunch facebook page.

The man behind “Out for Lunch”
Gene Ramsbottom is one of Canada’s best known and most recorded classical clarinetists. He has over 55 orchestral and solo recordings as well as innumerable radio and television broadcasts to his credit. Ramsbottom performed with the CBC Radio Orchestra since 1974 and was its principal clarinetist from 1984 until the orchestra was disbanded in November 2008. He was the founding principal clarinetist of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra from 1976-1996.  

Ramsbottom’s association with the Vancouver Art Gallery started early. In 1968, when he was a ninth-grader at nearby King George Secondary in the West End, he had an after-school job helping with the special-programmes department, which included advertising and producing Wednesday Noon Concerts.

A lifelong organizer of music events, some of his numerous concert series productions include Saturday Serenades, Chamber Music at St. Andrews, Urbanarium, Music at Whistler, Music After Hours, Third, Fourth, Fifth & Sixth Season, Youth Christmas Gala, Mostly Mozart, Whistler International Mozart Festival, Chateau Classics, Bach’s Lunch and Lunch & Listen. He has taught clarinet and chamber music longer than any other clarinetist in B.C. at the music departments of Douglas College, Capilano University and the University of British Columbia.


On December 16, 2011 we celebrated Gene Ramsbottom and the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Out for Lunch Noon Hour Concert Series with music by the Marcus Mosley Chorale. 

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Community Stories

To attend these Friday concerts is of great significance to me, as well as to many other patrons of the arts that attend on a regular basis. I am transposed to another realm of inner reality! The synthesis of being present at live performances, to listen to and watch the musicians, is a deeply artistically moving and educational experience for all!
One is carried above the mundane and stresses of everyday Vancouver city life!

We are collectively enriched by the OFL concert series that Gene Ramsbottom volunteers tirelessly to organize and publicize and cosponsor. He contacts musicians, schedules, publicizes, produces, introduces and synchronizes the concerts with Jennifer Sorko and her team of volunteer docents at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Gene's dedication, passion and commitment to presenting and performing music at the OFL, as well as other musical venues, is to be marvelled at! No other musician in Canada has created a cultural legacy to be proud of. Without his initiative and immense giving back to the community the series would not exist.

Devoted to community outreach he also conducts and performs with the Terrace Symphony on a regular basis and donates his professional services to the WestCoast Symphony as its principal clarinetist. He also donates his time in Limerick, Ireland to support the Summer Music on the Shannon Festival which provides a professional musical setting for children and young performers in County Clare, Ireland.

According to Oliver Sacks, the neurobiology of music is necessary for human beings to flourish. Music enhances mood, cardiovascular function, athletic performance, math and language skills, spatial-visual ability, and tranquility of being. Living at a time when life is so fast and demanding, these concerts provide us with a cultural hearth, where we can sit and contemplate music and the inner realms of emotion and imagination that is evoked. I think the OFL concert series envisioned and created by Gene Ramsbottom, allows us to stop and enjoy pure aesthetic beauty, helping us metamorphosize as better human beings!

I met Gene Ramsbottom many years ago during my search for a clarinet teacher. Gene introduced me the 'Out For Lunch' concert series, and I try to attend those as often as possible. Being a complete hack, Gene has managed to keep me engaged in classical music, and this concert series provides a fantastic opportunity to experience a great variety of first class musicians. We are truly fortunate that Gene has the drive, ability and community spirit to present this series. It is a true treasure, and we must do everything possible to ensure that it continues.

Vancouver Art Gallery

750 Hornby St.

plaque is located inside the building as you enter from Hornby Street

49.283008, -123.120818

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