Celebrating Canada’s 150th in Vancouver

I had the wonderful experience of performing with the Silk Bamboo and Maple Festival Orchestra in Vancouver on May 21, 2017 in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. We played contemporary Canadian works for Chinese instrumental ensembles. It was a challenging and amazing experience, under the leadership of Dr. Chih-Sheng Chen (Taiwan). It was great to collaborate with these talented musicians and composers.

On our program:
Slender Gold (Owen Underhill)
Yangguan Sandie (Gloria Wong)
Shadow of the Candle (Zhi-Min Yu)
Qui Qiao Xian (Mark Armanini)
Endless Sands of Taklimakan (Moshe Denburg)
Mo (Bruce Bai)

The BC Chinese Music Association (BCCMA) hosted the first Chinese Traditional Instrument in Canada Networking Conference on May 20, 2017. The panelists were Dr. Chih-Sheng Chen, Dr. Gloria Wong, and Dr. Mei Han. The focus was on the history and development of Chinese instrument music education in Canada and the sustainability and growth of the Chinese orchestra in Canada. Charlie Lui (BC Chinese Orchestra), Jason Wong (Edmonton Philharmonica), Jeffrey Chao (Calgary Chinese Orchestra) and I (Toronto Chinese Orchestra) spoke about our own experiences.

I hope that this will be the beginning of more such exchanges so that Chinese ensemble music can continue to flourish here in Canada. It was interesting to learn about how Chinese ensembles started in each of the provinces, how we evolved, and the difficulties that we face now.

This is a topic close to my heart. Since I was 12 years old, the Chinese orchestra has been an important part of my life. If it weren’t for musicians that felt responsible to teach and share their love of music to the next generation, I would not be where I am today – leading a Chinese orchestra. My personal passion is to develop our own niche here in Canada, where we can encourage Canadian composers to write for traditional Chinese instruments. Though our music is steeped in tradition, we need to grow and evolve, making music that is relevant to our life here in Canada, but not forgetting our roots. We face many challenges as members of the Chinese diaspora, but if we can share ideas and be open to change, anything is possible!