Site icon Asian Heritage Month-CFACI | Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage (VMACCH)

Asian Heritage Month Concert 2023

Performances by Award-Winning Asian Canadian Artists including singing, music and dance

Date and Time: Wednesday, 17 May 2023 | 7:00 p.m. EDT

Venue: Innis Town Hall, University of Toronto, 2 Sussex Avenue

Artistic Directors: Professor Chan Ka Nin, Ms. Alice Ho, Dr. Vania Chan

Opening Welcome

MC: Dr. Vania Chan

Land Acknowledgement: Dr. Vania Chan

Welcome speech: Mr. Justin Poy (Honourary Patron, Asian Heritage Month-CFACI)



Two Vietnamese songs by Tan Vu



Tan Vu will be performing his new song: “HOME,” which he created from combining elements of musical theatre and Southern Vietnamese folk music to tell the story about a wanderer trying to find his way back to his roots.

Two Vietnamese Folk Songs

–  Cay Truc Xinh (Pretty Bamboo Tree) from Northern Vietnam;

–  Ly Nam Can variation (from “A lullaby for our motherland” Folk Opera) from Southern Vietnam with libretto(/text) by To Trung Kiet


Vietnamese LyricsEnglish Translation

Cây trúc xinh, tang tình là cây trúc mọc,Qua lối nọ như bờ ao.Chị Hai xinh tang tình là chị Hai đứng,đứng một mình,Qua lối như cũng xinh Đứng, đứng một mình qua lối như cũng xinh.

Bamboo tree oh pretty bamboo tree,Standing alone by the pond.Bamboo tree oh pretty bamboo tree,Beautiful even when alone,Beautiful even when alone.
Thể điệu LÝ NĂM CĂN (từ Ca cổ Lời Ru Cho Đất Nước- soạn giả Tô Trung Kiệt)LY NAM CAN variation (from “A lullaby for our motherland” Folk Opera – libretto(/text) by To Trung Kiet)

À ơi, con ngủ à ơi.Việt Nam, Tổ Quốc thiêng liêngGhi dấu cha ông xưa,Hùng Vương mở mang cõi Việt.
Ngàn năm tiếng trống hùng thiêng.Người xưa chiến đấu hùng anh,Xương máu điểm tô cho đất nước trường tồn.Người xưa chiến đấu hùng anh,Xương máu điểm tô cho đất nước trường tồn.

My lullaby forVietnam, our sacred homelandBuilt thousands of years agoBy the hands of Hùng Kings
For thousands of years, the Great Drum sounded,Millions of warriors fought valiantly.Their blood was spilled, so you may live forever;Their blood becomes yours, and you will live forever.

Tan Vu is a Vietnamese-Canadian artist. A Fulbright fellow, Tan performed in theatre, musical theatre and opera with Saigon’s leading institutions before moving to New York to train under a scholarship at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Tan immigrated to Canada in November 2019 and has since worked with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Cahoots Theatre, City Opera Vancouver, Eclipse Theatre Company, Talk Is Free Theatre and Toronto Operetta Theatre, among others.

Tan is also a creator of new works that weaves together musical theatre and Vietnamese folk music and oral folklore, and received grants from Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, and Canada Council for the Arts. Tan was also a recipient of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre’s 2020 Queer Emerging Artist Award and of Toronto Arts Foundation’s 2021 RBC Newcomer Arts Award.
Tan is a member of the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, and represented by da Costa Talent Management.

Pipa Solo and Two Chinese Pop Songs

Pipa Solo by Wen Zhao


On the Frontier 塞上曲 (Traditional Chinese)   

Song of Sparrow 雀语 (folk music, rearranged by Wen Zhao)

Two Chinese pop songs by Wen Zhao (pipa) and Dr. Vania Chan (soprano)


Tian mi mi” 甜蜜蜜

Yue liang dai biao wo di xin” 月亮代表我的心

About Dr. Vania Chan

Vania Lizbeth Chan is a versatile artist, active in the fields of vocal performance, academia and education. She enjoys collaborating with fellow artists to create new and exciting projects that inspire and reach out to a wide ranging audience. Vania received her Master of Music degree at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. In the pandemic year of 2020, Vania successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, and officially graduated with a PhD in Music from York University.

She sings in a variety of styles, performing opera, operetta, early music, musical theatre, oratorio, sacred, jazz and popular music. A lyric coloratura soprano, Vania’s voice has been described as “gently shimmering” (Opera News, NY), “lovely and agile” (Karas Reviews), with “birdlike coloratura” (opera ramblings). She has been praised for her fine acting skills, acclaimed as a “first-rate comedienne” (Halifax Chronicle Herald).

Vania has performed with several prominent performance companies, ensembles and music festivals. In Canada, she performs frequently with Toronto Operetta Theatre, Voicebox: Opera in Concert, Soundstreams, and most recently with the Toronto Consort, Confluence Concerts and City Opera Vancouver. While living in New York City, she performed with several companies in the United States. She was also featured in Early Music America’s Emerging Artists Showcase performing “Handel’s Heroines” a program of opera arias by Handel, with Rezonance Baroque Ensemble in Bloomington, Indiana.

Her most recent trip to Europe was on a tour in 2022 with Soundstreams, travelling to England and Germany to perform the music of Canadian composer Claude Vivier. Read more about Vania’s Career Highlights.

While continuing to perform, research and teach, Vania is excited to embark on new creative and collaborative projects. She recently became a co-artistic director for the annual Asian Heritage Month Concert in Toronto, working with composers Chan Ka Nin and Alice Ho. Vania is establishing a concert series in her hometown of Richmond Hill, called Moon Bloom Music, featuring live concert programs and educational outreach chats. Moon Bloom Music also has an online presence through her YouTube channel Vania Chan Music, where she creatively engages with her artistic colleagues, and reaches out to a growing online audience.

About Wen Zhao

Wen Zhao is an acclaimed pipa virtuoso, “a sensitive and lyrical performer.” Born in Beijing, she began to learn the pipa at the age of seven, eventually winning the first prize at the Beijing Youth National Instrument Competition, having studied under the renowned pipa master Wang Fan Di at the China Conservatory of Music. In 1990, Wen continued her musical journey in England, performing and leading Chinese music workshops throughout the UK. Wen has lived in Toronto since 1997 and teaches pipa at York University.

Wen has appeared at major ethnic music festivals worldwide, touring in China, Europe, Canada and the US, and has given solo recitals on many concert series and at universities. In recent years she has collaborated with some world’s top Western ensembles, including Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Consort as well as other organizations dedicated to music education. Wen has been a key player in world-premiere productions by Western opera companies, including Guo Wenjing’s Feng Yi Ting at the Luminato Festival and Alice Ping Yee Ho’s The Lesson of Da Ji with Toronto Masque Theatre. She has also created several East-West music projects for Toronto’s Aga Khan Museum. 

Wen directs the China Court Trio, which performs traditional music from the Qing Dynasty using the haunting combination of pipa, guzheng and dizi. The trio produced narrative concert projects about Marco Polo (with the Toronto Consort) and Matteo Ricci (with the Toronto Chamber Choir). Wen is especially honoured to be one of the featured musicians for the CBC award-winning documentary film, The Four Seasons Mosaic. The Toronto Star described her as “a virtuoso player who displayed her dexterity and percussive skills on the pipa,” while a reviewer in WholeNote magazine described her as “the Jimi Hendrix of the pipa.”

Dance by Yvonne Ng, Winner of the Canada Council for the Arts Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts, 2022


Miniature Solo and Music, an excerpt (2021)

Choreography by Yvonne Ng, in collaboration with

Performer: Kurumi Yoshimoto

Composer: Nick Storring

Outside Eye: Bonnie Kim

Yvonne Ng | Photo by Sean Howard

Yvonne Ng’s introduction of the work: “In 2020, I was preparing for the premier of my full length work, Wéi 成为 which of course had to be postponed, three times. Finally premiering in summer 2022. By the time we got into 2021, there was an absence of dance in my life, I was missing the desire to engage in a personal and collective creation. While I was bound to the limits of my physical container, I found it liberating to be able to still create dance through my imagination. This sparked a curiosity around how I could transmit and transfer my imagination to the physical body of another person. So with inspiration from Nick Storring’s stunning composition from Wéi 成为, which still at that time, was waiting for its presentation premier, and in collaboration with 5 exquisite artists, we created a series of solo variations.  For the 2023 Asian Heritage Month celebrations, I’m going to be showing one of the 5 solos, that Kurumi will perform.”

About Yvonne Ng:

Born and raised in Singapore, Yvonne Ng is a choreographer, presenter, arts educator and founder and artistic director of princess productions. princess productions supports the work of two divisions—tiger princess dance projects (1995) for Yvonne’s activities as a performer, choreographer, arts educator and producer; and dance: made in canada / fait au canada (2001) a presenting division that produces a biennial festival of contemporary Canadian dance works. Her works have toured internationally for the past 15 years. Her company’s arts education programs, Swallowing Clouds (youth) and Moving Stories (cross-generational) are active in 18 library branches and retirement residences.

Yvonne completed her Masters in Intergenerational Practice at York University in 2018. She has taught at and created work for Toronto Metropolitan University, York University, and for six years at Juniata College, Pennsylvania and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and La Salle College of the Arts, Singapore. She is currently adjunct at University of Waterloo.

Yvonne Ng received the Ontario Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts for New Talent in 2007 and, since then, her choreography and performances have earned her 15 Dora Mavor Moore nominations and one win. She has received numerous other accolades, including the Muriel Sherrin Award, the Jacqueline Lemieux Prize, the Soulpepper Community Artist Award, the K.M. Hunter Artist Award, a New Pioneers Award and a Chalmers Arts Fellowship.

About Kurumi Yoshimoto

Kurumi is a Toronto-based dancer originally from Osaka, Japan. She trained at private dance studios and earned her BA in Psychology in 2015 from Kwansei Gakuin University. In 2017, she came to Canada to study modern dance at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre’s Professional Training Program from 2018 to 2021. During the summer of 2019, she trained at the Alvin Ailey School in New York and also participated in ProArteDanza’s summer intensive, which earned her an invitation as an apprentice with the company for their 2019 Fall season. In 2021, Kurumi created a short dance film called “縁-En-” for SummerWorks Performance Festival and also had the opportunity to perform in the dance:made in canada Festival. Recently, since graduating from STDT, she has been working with tiger princess dance projects.

Aria from Dragon’s Tale Opera by Professor Chan Ka Nin

Performed by Vania Chan, soprano; Alice Ping Yee Ho, piano

Aria from Chinatown Opera by Alice Ping Yee Ho


Performed by Vania Chan, soprano; Alice Ping Yee Ho, piano


About Dr. Vania Chan (see above)

About Professor Chan Ka Nin:

Chan Ka Nin. Bo Huang photograph

Photo by Bo Huang

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.

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, Sinfonia Toronto’s commission work My Most Beautiful, Wonderful, Terrific, Amazing, Fantastic, Magnificent Homeland was recorded by the Toronto Symphony 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 work, Pikä Talvi, (long winter) was premiered by percussionist Antti Ohenoja and a string quartet in Helsinki in January 2022. His Harp Concerto will be premiered by Sinfonia Toronto with harpist Teresa Suen-Campbell in November 2022. His “Welcoming Spring” was premiered by Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under Naomi Woo in January 2023. This work will be recorded by the same artists next year. Currently he is working with librettist Mark Brownell on his second full length opera Dragon’s Tale which will be premiered in June 2023 in Toronto.

About Alice Ping Yee Ho: 

Alice Ho. Bo Huang photograph

Photo by Bo Huang

One of the most acclaimed composers writing in Canada today, Hong Kong-born Alice Ping Yee Ho has written in many musical genres and received numerous national and international awards, including the 2022 Symphony Nova Scotia’s Maria Anna Mozart Award, 2022 Barlow Endowment General Commission, 2019 Johanna Metcalf Performing Arts Prize, 2016 Louis Applebaum Composers Award, K.M. Hunter Artist Award, 2014 Prince Edward Island Symphony Composers Competition, and 2013 Dora Mavor Moore Award for her opera “Lesson of Da Ji “.

Critics have called her music dramatic and graceful, while praising its “organic flow of imagination,” “distinctly individual” style”, “colourful orchestration” and “emotive qualities”.

Her works have been performed by the Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Victoria, and Hamilton Symphonies; the Finnish Lapland Chamber Orchestra, China National Symphony, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Florida Orchestra, Polish Radio Choir, Estonia’s Ellerhein Girls Choir, Luxembourg Sinfonietta, and Amsterdam’s Nieuw Ensemble.

A twice JUNO Award Nominee, she has an impressive discography released on the Centrediscs, Naxos, ATMA, PARMA, Marquis Classics, Blue Griffin, Electra, Leaf Music, and Phoenix labels. Her recent releases including “A Woman Voices” (Leaf Music) featuring her music for female voice(s) and piano, “Blaze”(Centrediscs), a solo piano album featuring acclaimed Canadian pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico, and the full length recording of her new opera CHINATOWN commissioned by City Opera Vancouver with librettist Madeleine Thien, will be released in September, 2023.

Alice Ho’s website 

Korean Dance by Navillera Korean Dance Company 

Dongcho handkerchief Chum


Dongcho handkerchief Chum is a regional folk dance from the Honam region of South Korea. It is a type of gyobang dance where participants dance on a small mat while holding a handkerchief in their hand. The dance is characterized by delicate and graceful arm and foot movements, and it is known for its intricate and sophisticated choreography. It is a traditional dance that showcases the beauty and elegance of Korean culture.

About Navillera Korean Dance Company
Navillera Korean Performing Arts Development (NKPAD) is a non-profit organization based in Toronto that promotes traditional and creative Korean culture through performing arts, workshops and education. Toronto Korean Dance Company (TKDC) is a professional dance troupe affiliated with NKPAD, showcasing various Korean dance repertoires to promote Korean dance.

Hee Rin Kim( Founder of NKPAD,/Artistic director/Choreographe/artist)

She started learning Korean dance at the age of 10 and has been practicing it for over 35 years. She majored in Korean dance at Sungeui Women’s University in Korea and graduated as a professional dancer. In 1999, she immigrated to Canada and worked as the principal dancer for KDSSC for 16 years before founding the Navillera Dance Company in 2017 and the non-profit organization NKPAD in 2018. Based in Toronto, these organizations aim to pass down and promote Korean traditional and contemporary dance.

She has performed in numerous shows, including the following representative performances:
• “Harmony” @ Fairview Library Theatre / NKPAD (April 2018)
• “Nirvana the Connected Oneness” @ Toronto Centre for the Arts / NKPAD (October 2018)
• “Saranbang project: Breath” @ Navillera Dance Studio / NKPAD (April 2022)

Upcoming event of Navillera Korean Dance Company:
• “Saranbang project: In-yeon” @ Alumnae Theatre / NKPAD (June 3rd, 2023 at 4 pm)

Jiyun Back (NKPAD Artist/ Choreographer/TKDC Instructor)

Jihyun Back has performed in over 100 shows worldwide as a member of The Little Angels, a Korean traditional art and dance troupe. Jihyun
holds an arts diploma in Korean dance from Sangmyung University and worked for Uijeongbu City Dance Organization in Korea as a professional dancer before relocating to Canada in 2020. Since then, she has been performing, creating new dance repertories and leading workshops with NKPAD.

6) The Sundar Trio | with JUNO-winning saxophonist/flutist/vocalist and composer Sundar Viswanathan, renowned for his Jazz music




Samsara (Mvmt. I of the Kanishka Suite)


About Sundar Viswanathan

JUNO-winning saxophonist/flutist/vocalist and composer Sundar Viswanathan has shared the world stage with national/international artists alike. He has performed extensively in Europe (including stints with the Grammy-nominated Charles Tolliver Big Band at several Jazz Festivals), Japan, Brazil, South Africa, Canada, the Caribbean and the US. Musical associations from Jazz and World music arenas include Wynton Marsalis, Vijay Iyer, Kenny Wheeler, Jaffa Road, Lee Konitz, Dave Holland, Kiran Ahluwalia, Rez Abbasi, John Abercrombie, Suba Sankaran, Terry Clarke, Joe Lovano, John Hicks, Cecil McBee, Billy Hart, Jim McNeeley, Hip Hop artist GURU and Dave Douglas. Sundar released two critically acclaimed albums with his world-jazz group Avataar: ‘Petal’ in 2016, and ‘Worldview’, which won the 2022 JUNO Award for Best Jazz Album of the Year (Group). He has been commissioned to compose/perform with several Dance companies in Canada/USA and has been reviewed/profiled in Downbeat, JAZZIZ, the New York Times,, Toronto Star, Ottawa Citizen, EYE magazine and several other Canadian and international publications. Sundar’s music has been featured on CBC radio, JAZZ FM, WBAI, Radio Bombay and college radio nationally and internationally and he can be heard on over 30 recordings as a featured or side artist.

Read Sundar Viswanathan’s full bio.

About Ben Dwyer, Bass

Ben Dwyer has worked professionally in music for over 10 years and in that time has performed and recorded with various artists across the musical spectrum. Tone production, time feel and a sense of playfulness and openness are all hallmarks of Ben’s playing. He has lived in Toronto since 2018, after stints in Montréal and Vancouver and performs regularly around the city with many of Toronto’s brightest musicians.

About Ewen Farncombe, keyboard

Ewen Farncombe is a Juno-nominated pianist and composer based out of Toronto and has been a professional on the scene there for nearly a decade. Having played on various recordings and with numerous bands, he has earned his reputation as a highly skilled musician.

While he was attending Humber College for a degree in music performance, he received several prestigious awards, including the Hnatyshyn Foundation Oscar Peterson award. While jazz is Ewen’s passion, he is a versatile player and is known to play many genres of music.

Co-Organizers: Asian Heritage Month—Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc.; Toronto Public Library; Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto; 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

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.

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