23 May 2021 | 2 p.m. EDT
Artistic Directors: Professor Chan Ka Nin, Alice Ping Yee Ho
Opening Remarks: Mr. Justin Poy, Honourary Patron, Asian Heritage Month-CFACI
The Asian Heritage Month Concert returns with a virtual concert on 23 May 2021. Asian artists from Canada, China, India, Japan, Korea and the Philippines will showcase their artistry in a 60-minute presentation. Heartfelt thanks to the many diverse and talented performers, many of whom are participating for the first time with us: percussionist Bobby Ho, soprano Stephanie Nakagawa, violinist Sharon Lee, tenor Shirshendu Mukherjee, and mezzo soprano Renee Michaela Fajardo. Featured ensembles include the Korean Canadian Symphony Orchestra, Taoyuan Chinese Orchestra, Spire Fusion Band, and Toronto Chinese Orchestra, who will present liuqin virtuoso Felix Yeung with a concerto by Xijin Liu. This year we have introduced a special segment called Pandemic Reflections in which artists share with our audience their personal experience during this global epidemic. Contributions by Photographer Tam Kam Chiu, poet Lien Chao, painter Irene Hung, and students from Toronto Catholic District School Board add an extra finesse to this concert’s musical palette. We hope the spirit of this concert imbues us with new life and vitality.
Co-Artistic Directors: Chan Ka Nin, Alice Ping Yee Ho
* Poetry by Lien Chao; photography by Tam Kam Chiu; and paintings by Irene Hung and from the Toronto Catholic District School Board
I. Flying on a Drum (⿎上⻜舞), a paigu solo
Bobby Ho, 何松聲 , Percussion
Pandemic Reflection 1: Amely Zhou
II. Charm of Manchu— IV movement: Dance of Fire by Xijin Liu
Felix Yeung, liuqin
Toronto Chinese Orchestra, Chih-Sheng Chen, conductor
III. An Aria and Two Japanese Folk Songs
I Need You Guillaume by Victor Davies
Stephanie Nakagawa, Soprano
IV. Bluebird, a Korean Folk Song
Korean Canadian Symphony Orchestra
Sharon Lee, conductor
Toronto Concert Orchestra
Sharon Lee, violin
Pandemic Reflection 2: Photos by Tam Kam Chiu
Music by Chan Ka Nin
V. Rising Warrior
Amely Zhou 周嘉麗 (⼆胡) Erhu
Wendy Zhou 周晚濛 (琵琶) Pipa
Ken Yang 杨晓赓 (鋼琴) Piano/Keyboard
Jaimie Chan 陳祖慧 (⼤提琴)Cello
Perry Ho 何柏蔚 (⼩提琴) Violin
William Tran 陳家俊 (架⼦⿎) Drum Set
Lipeng Wu 吴⽴鹏 (笛⼦) Dizi
VI. Khamaj Thumri—Music from India
Shirshendu Mukherjee, tenor
Ravi Naimpally, tabla
Pandemic Reflection 3: Poem by Lien Chao
Paintings by Irene Hung and students from Toronto Catholic District School Board
Music by Alice Ping Yee Ho
VII. ‘Noli me Tangere’, an opera by Felipe Padilla de Leon
‘Dandansoy’, a Visayan folk song arranged by Lucrecia Kasilag
Renee Michaela Fajardo, mezzo-soprano
VIII. Flying Dragon, Leaping Tiger (⿓騰⻁躍), a drum concerto by Minxiong Li.
Bobby Ho, 何松聲, Percussion,
Taoyuan Chinese Orchestra
Conductor: Chih-Sheng Chen
About the Artists
Chan Ka Nin, Artistic Director, composer
Twice winner of Juno Awards for Best Classical Composition, composer CHAN Ka Nin’s works have been performed by ensembles and artists such as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Orchestra, CBC Vancouver Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra London Canada, Symphony Nova Scotia, Amici, Miro Quartet, Purcell Quartet, Rivka Golani and Lawrence Cherney. His numerous international awards include Béla Bartók International Composers’ Competition, Barlow International Competitions, International Horn Society Composition Contest, Jean Chalmers Award, PROCAN Young Composers’ Competition and Amherst Saxophone Quartet Composition Competition. Chan was born in Hong Kong and moved with his family to Vancouver in 1965. At the University of British Columbia he studied composition with Jean Coulthard while pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. After graduation he decided to continue studying composition with Bernhard Heiden at Indiana University where he eventually obtained his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in music. Since 1982, he has been teaching theory and composition at the University of Toronto.
Characteristically luminous in texture and exotic in instrumental colors, Chan’s music has been described by critics as “sensuous,” “haunting,” and “intricate.” The composer often draws his inspiration directly from his personal experiences: for example, the birth of one of his daughters, the death of his father, his spiritual quests, or his connection to nature and concern for the environment. In 2001, his opera Iron Road, written with librettist Mark Brownell, won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Musical. In 2002, his chamber work Par- çi, par-la , which was recorded by Ensemble Contemporain du Montréal, has won the Juno Award for Best classical composition. In 2017, The Toronto Symphony Orchestra recorded the composer’s My Most Beautiful, Wonderful, Terrific, Amazing, Fantastic, Magnificent Homeland on their CD Canada Mosaic SESQUIES. In 2018, the Dragon’s Tale was awarded the Kathleen McMorrow Award, which recognizes the presentation of contemporary classical music by Ontario composers. His new composition Viral, for four acoustic guitars and six electric guitars has been accepted for inclusion at The 21st Century Guitar in Lisbon, Portugal in 2021. In the same year, his Moods of Couchiching will be premiered by the AsianArt Ensemble in Berlin, Germany. Currently he is working with librettist Mark Brownell on his second full length opera Dragon’s Tale.
Renee Fajardo, Mezzo Soprano
Born and raised in Manila, Filipino Mezzo-soprano Renee Fajardo has performed on both the opera stage and as a solo recitalist in the Philippines, the UK, Europe and Canada. Her operatic roles include Popova in The Bear (U of T Opera), Donna Anna in Don Jo (Grimeborn Opera Festival), Public Opinion in Orpheus in the Underworld (Guildhall School of Music and Drama), The Assistant in The Tsar wants his Photo Taken (UCL Performance Lab) and Fanny Price in the Canadian premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park (U of T Opera).
Winner of the Metcalf Performing Arts Grant, Renee currently works as Producing Intern at Against the Grain Theatre, furthering her commitment to building a more equitable, diverse and justice-facing industry for all historically-underrepresented identities in opera. Equally passionate about performance and off-stage creative practice, Renee sings with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, and is a mentor and provincial coordinator for independent Opera education collective, Opera InReach. She also volunteers as an Institutional Giving intern with Boulanger Initiative, working on funding opportunities to support and advocate for works composed by women and marginalized gender composers. As a settler of Filipino heritage, she is grateful to be currently based in T’karonto (Toronto), the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples; currently home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
Renee recently completed her Masters in Opera Performance from the University of Toronto, and holds a first-class Bachelor of Music degree from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Alice Ping Yee Ho, Director, composer
Alice Ho is an acclaimed Hong Kong-born Canadian composer. She has received numerous national and international awards including the 2019 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize, 2016 Louis Applebaum Composers Award, K.M. Hunter Artist Award, top prizes at 2014 Prince Edward Island Symphony Composers Competition and Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Friendship Orchestral Composition Competition, 2013 Dora Mavor Moore Award (“Outstanding Original Opera” for her opera “Lesson of Da Ji “), 2013 Boston Metro Opera International Composition Competition , and Luxembourg Sinfonietta International Composition Prize. Her works have been performed by many major ensembles including the Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Victoria, Hamilton, and Windsor Symphonies; the Finnish Lapland Chamber Orchestra, China National Symphony, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Polish Radio Choir, Estonia’s Ellerhein Girls Choir, Luxembourg Sinfonietta, and Amsterdam’s Nieuw Ensemble. A twice JUNO Award Nominee (2015 and 2018), she has an impressive discography released on the Centrediscs, Naxos, Marquis Classics, Blue Griffin, Electra, Leaf Music, and Phoenix labels. She has six solo discs devoted to music written for different genres, including two recent releases of her children’s opera “The Monkiest King” with the Canadian Children’s Opera Company on Centrediscs, and “Venom of Love” (electronic ballet music) on Leaf Music. She is currently commissioned by City Opera Vancouver on a new opera Chinatown with librettist Madeleine Thien opening September 2022 at the Vancouver Playhouse. A noted classical pianist, she had performed in many new music festivals, including a solo piano recital recorded by CBC Radio 2 in which she premiered Tan Dun’s solo piano work “Traces II”.
Bobby Ho, Percussionist
Bobby was first introduced to the drum kit in 2002, and eventually became obsessed with drumming when he began forming his own bands and participating in extra-curricular music ensembles. Since then he decided to supplement his musical horizon by composing and arranging music for percussion ensembles, orchestras, choirs, symphonic bands, and his personal rock bands. Although he has been attending Chinese music concerts since he was a child, Bobby did not become actively involved in Chinese music until 2012. That year he joined the Apex Martial Arts Academy in Toronto to learn wushu and sanshou, not knowing that this is where his journey as a Chinese percussionist would begin. The martial arts school had a drumming ensemble called the Apex Drumming Team, a group of youth that specialized in lion dance drumming.
After witnessing the ferocity of the drumming team through shared community performances with the Toronto Chinese Orchestra (TCO) Bobby was invited to join the TCO not as a performer, but as a composer. He debuted his first composition for Chinese drums, Legend of Jade Dragon, in 2013 with the TCO percussion ensemble. Since then, he has been performing with the TCO and has been appointed the section principal for their percussion section. He has arranged collaborations between the TCO and the Apex Drumming Team to perform his second composition, Wild Game, and renowned Chinese percussion songs, such as Flying Dragon Leaping Tiger and Emperor Qin Musters Army. Bobby was invited to Taiwan as a soloist to collaborate with the Taoyuan Chinese Orchestra in the 30th Taoyuan Chinese Music Festival in the summer of 2018, and has also collaborated with Bobby has also collaborated with the Edmonton Chinese Orchestra, Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra, and Xian-Se Gong Chinese Orchestra.
Despite his love for music, Bobby earned his master’s degree in Professional Education, specializing in Applied Behaviour Analysis. In addition to teaching and performing drums part-time, Bobby is the founder and Clinical Director of Apex Educational Consulting Services Inc., which offers behaviour therapy for individuals diagnosed with autism and various developmental delays.
Sharon Lee, violinist, Director
Aptly pegged “a compact fireball” (La Scena Musicale), violinist Sharon Lee gave her concerto debut at the age of ten with the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra (Wisconsin). Sharon was appointed Music Director of the Korean-Canadian Symphony Orchestra in 2019, and was appointed Co-Artistic Director of the Toronto Concert Orchestra (TCO) in the following year, having served as Concertmaster for the TCO under the late Maestro Kerry Stratton since 2014. Sharon is also founder and Artistic Director of the Toronto Chamber Players, and is a YAMAHA Canada Artist and D’Addario Canada Artist as member of Dévah Quartet.
Sharon can be frequently found appearing as guest concertmaster with ensembles including Toronto Beach Chorale, PAX Christi, Mississauga Choral Society, Sneak Peek Orchestra, Sudbury Symphony, and Canzona Chamber Orchestra. Sharon has dedicated a part of her career to participating in the creation of new music, and has performed more than one hundred world premieres. In addition, Sharon is an active session artist, performing live and in studio for film and television soundtracks and leading artists such as Barbra Streisand, Peter Gabriel, and The Tenors. In the months before COVID, Sharon served as Concertmaster for local tours for Josh Groban and Michael Buble.
Sharon’s cumulative educational efforts include providing private lessons at University of Toronto Schools, violin facilitator at Axis Music, violinist and coach with the Toronto District School Board /Continuum New Music project, and as clinician at the Ontario String Association, and the Ontario Music Educators Association. With Dévah Quartet, Sharon frequently works with high-school students to help bridge the gap between classical music and other genres. Also an experienced Adjudicator, Sharon recently served as Adjudicator for the Toronto and Kitchener-Waterloo Kiwanis Music Festivals.
Invited to join the studio of the late Professor Lorand Fenyves at age 16, Sharon performed at the Lorand Fenyves Memorial Concert as his final pupil at the University of Toronto. Sharon also studied with the late professor Ik-Hwan Bae at Indiana University, where she was awarded the Dean’s Scholarship. Sharon is a recipient of the Lorand Fenyves String Scholarship, the Felix Galimir Chamber Music Award, and the Ontario Arts Council’s Orford String Quartet Award.
Korean Canadian Symphony Orchestra
Founded in 1987, the Korean Canadian Symphony Orchestra is deeply embedded in the fabric of Korean immigrant history here in Canada. A bridge between Korean and Canadian musicians for over 30 years, former members of the KCSO hold prominent musical positions across the globe. The KCSO creates a place for professionally trained musicians to continue creating music in a new environment, and an opportunity for newly arrived professional Korean musicians to perform alongside Canadian musicians in a welcoming setting.
Toronto Concert Orchestra
Toronto Concert Orchestra is Toronto’s premier professional entertainment orchestra, dedicated to creating quality music with an emphasis on social responsibility. TCO’s summer concert series ‘Symphony in the Gardens’ sold out six seasons, drawing audiences of up to 1,800 people per event. During the year, TCO can be found presenting uniquely curated programs to their loyal Toronto audience, as well as touring in the Southern Ontario region, sharing quality live professional music with our many smaller neighbouring communities. TCO is a fluid ensemble that values collaborative efforts and that adapts in numbers as the project requires. TCO pulls from a Southern Ontario based pool of roughly 200 carefully selected musicians.
Shirshendu Mukherjee, Indian Classical Vocalist
Born in a family of music connoisseurs, Shirshendu Mukherjee was inducted into music at the tender age of 3 under the tutelage of Smt.Chandana Chakrabarty. Later on, he joined ITC Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata as a Scholar and received extensive training from Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, the doyen of Patiala Gharana.
Shirshendu started performing at the age of 14 by rendering at the Annual Classical Music Programme organized by Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Kolkata when he shared the dais with the giants of Indian Classical Music viz. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Birju Maharaj, Ustad Zakir Hussain. He has been a regular performer in various major conferences in India as well as in Europe, wherein he has been highly appreciated by the connoisseurs of Indian Classical Music. With the mission and vision of spreading Indian Classical Vocal Music through performance, education and research, he has migrated to Toronto, Canada where he is co-founder of the Riyaz Institute of Hindustani Music, a school of music providing traditional knowledge to a modern world. Within a short period of time he has performed at various venues and has gathered accolades from the music lovers of Canada.
Ravi Naimpally, Tabla player
Ravi Naimpally began his study of tabla in Mumbai with his uncle Pandit Nikhil Ghosh. For the past twenty years Ravi has been fortunate to receive guidance from the legendary Pandit Anindo Chatterjee. He is a member of the faculty of music at York University and Humber College and is co-founder of the Riyaz Institute of Hindustani Music.
Dr. Stephanie Nakagawa, Soprano
Dr. Stephanie Nakagawa, has a great passion for Canadian opera. Her outstanding contribution to the field and her publication, A Canadian Opera Aria Anthology for Soprano has been recognized by the Canadian Music Centre with the Barbara Pentland Award of Excellence. Stephanie completed her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Voice and Opera from the University of British Columbia, where she was also awarded the UBC Public Scholars Award, UBC Wesbrook Scholar, Johann Strauss Foundation Scholarship, UBC Medal, Canada Millennium Scholarship, and the BMO National Scholarship. In addition, Stephanie holds a Master’s degree from Indiana University, a Bachelor of Music in Opera from UBC, and ARCT Performance Diplomas in both piano and voice. She was also awarded the Voice National Gold Medal from the Royal Conservatory of Music.
An active performer and recitalist, Stephanie has performed with various ensembles including the Aspen Music Festival, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Bard on the Beach, Westcoast Symphony, Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, Prince George Symphony, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Gerdine Young Artist, Indiana University Opera Theatre, Oberlin in Italy, Pacific Opera Victoria Lunchbox Series, and the Canadian Music Centre. Her stage credits include Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Vixen (The Cunning Little Vixen), Gretel (Hansel & Gretel), Adele (Die Fledermaus), Amy (Little Women), Musetta (La Bohème), Zerlina (Don Giovanni), and Miss Wordsworth (Albert Herring). Stephanie’s other accolades include the regional winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, first place at the BC Provincial Festival of the Performing Arts, BC Arts Council Award, and Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques Laureate.
In addition to performing, Stephanie loves to work with young aspiring singers and is the music director and conductor of the Vancouver women’s chamber choir, Coro Cantare.
Spire Fusion Ensemble
Established in 2010, Spire was formed with the vision of creating fusion between Eastern and Western genres of music. Spire uses Eastern and Western musical instruments to perform a variety of music ranging from traditional to modern pop music.
Over the past years, Spire has grown to become an extremely well-received group in Toronto. Since its establishment, Spire has been featured as guest artists with the Toronto Chinese Orchestra’s annual concerts, performed live on Canadian National Media Network – WOWtv, and has been featured in several of Toronto’s largest summer events, including “Night it Up!”, “T&T Supermarket’s Waterfront Night Market”, “Richmond Hill Summer Carnival”, and at the “Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) International Stage”.
Spire has received high acclaim from audiences for its unique musical style and arrangement of music. They have reached milestones of holding their own concerts, to sold-out audiences at the Toronto Chinese Modern Art Academy, and a standing ovation performance at the University of Toronto Chinese New Year Concert in support of UNICEF Canada. Most recently, Spire has also been featured as one of the top 6 finalists at a large North America Asian Pacific Showcase – ‘Kollaboration Toronto’ and has been featured at a number of corporate and charity events including TD Bank, Sick Kids Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society, ROM’s Friday Night Live!, and many more! Spire continues to musically inspire its audience bridging the East with the West.
Toronto Chinese Orchestra
Toronto Chinese Orchestra (TCO) is the largest Chinese orchestra in Ontario and the longest running in Canada. Our purpose is to promote and develop an appreciation of Chinese orchestral music and culture amongst Canadians. The TCO family consists of our two training orchestras (Youth and Community), our main orchestra, and the professional Chamber Players.
Asian Heritage Month—Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc.; Toronto Public Library; York Centre for Asian Research, York University; Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto; York University; Richard Charles Lee Canada Hong Kong Library, University of Toronto; Chinese Canadian Photography Society of Toronto; WE Artists’ Group; Social Services Network; Cambridge Food and Wine Society; Fête Chinoise
Asian Heritage Month Festival is partially funded by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Asian Canadian Artists in Digital Age is funded by Canada Council for the Arts Digital Strategy Fund