Asian Heritage Month-CFACI
Virtual Museum of Asian Canadian Cultural Heritage (VMACCH)
Logo for Asian Heritage Month

Presented by The Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc. in partnership with the Toronto Public Library

Chan Ka Nin

Chan Ka Nin. Photo by Bo Huang

Chan Ka Nin was born in Hong Kong and moved with his family to Vancouver in 1965. He studied composition with Jean Coulthard at the University of British Columbia and 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.

Twice winner of Juno Awards for Best Classical Composition, composer Chan Ka Nin’s works have been performed by ensembles and artists from Canada, United States and around the world. 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 the Ensemble Contemporain du Montréal, 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. In June 2023, his Pandemic Diary will be premiered by Elite Artists Trio in Taiwan. His Harp Concerto will be premiered in Toronto this November, and performance again by the City Chamber Orchestra from Hong Kong in 2023

Glimpses of the Moon (music video)
Music: Chan Ka Nin
Poem: Stephen Parks
Grace Liang: Soprano
Charlene Chin: Harp

Alice Ping Yee Ho

Alice Ping Yee Ho. Photo by Bo Huang

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, 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.

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.

Alice Ping Yee Ho’s website

The Weeping Woman (music video), including introduction by Alice Ping Yee Ho

Mushtari Afroz

Mushtari Afroz

Mushtari is a Greater Toronto Area-based dancer and choreographer with training in Kathak, a North Indian classical dance form, and has been practising within the South Asian diaspora since early 2000 following her immigration to Canada from Bangladesh. While her movement vocabulary is rooted in the classical form, her work is rooted in the essence of ‘Now’ that manifests itself through conceptual wit, physical rigor and poetic metaphors.

SOM (music video)

A space of destruction
Is the space of new creation
An end
Is the point of a new beginning
A death
Is the passage to a new life
And a collapse
Is a catalyst to ‘rise again’
SOM evokes this inseparability and the constant dialogue between the opposite forces in nature that define our existence. Through the poetic verses of Late Kazi Nazrul Islam – the National poet of Bangladesh – I invoke Lord Shiva – the embodiment of the forces of destruction as well as of creation – during our prolonged time of crisis with an urgent request: Please stop your dance of darkness and begin your dance of new light.

Song Written and Composed by: Kazi Nazrul Islam
Concept, Choreography, Performance and Narration: Mushtari Afroz
Vocal and Music Arrangement: Tanveer Alam Shawjeeb
Sitar: Nishit Dey
Tabla, Pakhawaj and Bol Padhant: Pallab Sanyal
Film and Post-production: Inner Space Studio
Research & Creation phase of this work was made possible in 2020–21 by the support from Canada Council for the Arts.

Mushtari Afroz website

PhoeNX Ensemble

PhoeNX Ensemble, which includes Patty Chan and Sanya Eng, is a cross-cultural mixed chamber ensemble that blends traditional East Asian and Western instruments. Its vision is to explore, promote and expand the East/West mixed-musical medium through performances, educational workshops, commissioning and cross-disciplinary collaborations.

This multi-layered instrumental palette merges together the rich musical histories and influences of the East and West, giving rise to an altogether new canvas of limitless sound potential and musical story-telling.

Founded by leading erhu musician Patty Chan, Director of Centre for Music Innovations and Past-President of the Toronto Chinese Orchestra, in collaboration with Sanya Eng, an internationally acclaimed Toronto-based harpist, PhoeNX Ensemble is rooted in the heartfelt hopes of sharing inspirational narratives through a mixed ensemble sonority.

Each concert has an arc of experience. Programmes are based upon compelling stories of true history, traditional mythology, or tales of life-lessons learned through fables. With music ranging from time-honoured, Eastern-oriented classics to freshly commissioned contemporary new music, the audience is treated to a journey across cultures, languages, borders, and time . . . and ultimately: a journey of hope and inspiration.

A Mid-Autumn Festival Offering—the Legend of Chang’e, Immortal Goddess of the Moon (music video)

PhoeNX Ensemble offers a retelling of the tale upon which is celebrated during every annual Mid-Autumn Festival: the Legend of Chang’e, Immortal Goddess of the Moon. Through music, dance, and narration you will be transported to a world of power, passion, greed, sacrifice, and eternal love.

Composers (in order of performance): Grace Lizan Currie (CA), Andrew Gosse (CA), Jérôme Langlois (CA)
Musicians: Patty Chan, erhu; Sanya Eng, harp; Lina Cao, guzheng; Ryan Scott, percussion
Narrator: Courtney Ch’ng Lancaster
Choreographer: Emily Cheung
Dancers: Jessica Gomes, Chang’e, Zachary Cardwell, Hou Yi and Peng Meng
Videographer and editor: Taylor Long
Sound engineer: Dennis Patterson
Photographer: Dahlia Katz
Translator: Angela Howell

This project was made possible with the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council

PhoeNX Ensemble Website

Patty Chan

“Finding Belonging” is short documentary that explores the history and legacy of the Chinese Instrumental Music Group of Toronto (CIMGOT), Toronto’s first traditional Chinese orchestra (1969–1987). This film was created using the collected archival materials of the orchestra’s activities, the recorded interviews with the founders and members of the orchestra, and Patty Chan’s autoethnographic observations and experiences.

Watch “Finding Belonging” at this link

Renee Fajardo

Renee Fajardo

Born and raised in Manila, Filipino Mezzo-soprano Renee Fajardo has performed on the opera stage and as a solo recitalist in the Philippines, 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), 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 was the 2021–22 Producing Intern at Against the Grain Theatre. Passionate about ensemble performance and equitable community engagement, she also sang with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale and currently serves as mentor for opera education collective Opera InReach.

Renee holds a Master’s degree in Opera Performance from University of Toronto, and a first-class Bachelor of Music degree from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She will be premiering the role of Euryale for Toronto-based OperaQ’s film, Medusa’s Children, in Summer 2022.

Soprano Renee Fajardo’s music presentation (video)
Renee Fajardo on Facebook

Bobby Ho

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 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.

Apex Predators (music video)
Apex Predators; Horse Lantern Dance (馬燈舞) (music video)
Flying Dragon Leaping Tiger (龍騰虎躍) (music video)

Program Notes:
Apex Predators performed by Apex Drumming Team

Apex Predators showcases traditional lion dance percussion and rhythm outside the context of the lion dance. Such patterns include “High Lion” at the beginning of each section, which is typically used to signal the lion to socialize, and “Seven Star” to signal the end of a section. Due to the widely practised art of lion dance, compared to Chinese orchestral percussion, in Canada, lion dance drumming remains the most well-known form of Chinese percussion in Canada.

Horse Lantern Dance (馬燈舞)
By Zhengui Li (李真貴) and performed by Apex Drumming Team

The piece is written for a percussion trio that expresses the lively scene of three horses dancing around lanterns on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month.

Flying Dragon Leaping Tiger (龍騰虎躍)
by Li Minxiong (李民雄) and performed by the Taoyuan Chinese Orchestra
Conductor: Dr. Chih Sheng Chen (陳志昇) | Soloist: Bobby Ho

One of most renowned percussion concertos of Chinese orchestral music, Flying Dragon Leaping Tiger (龍騰虎躍) depicts a dragon and tiger chasing and playfully fighting each other. The main melody was inspired by a song from the Zhejiang (浙江) province of China called Dragon Head Dragon Tail and was reinterpreted for the characteristics of the flower drum and paigu.

Contact Bobby Ho by email

Ron Korb

Ron Korb is a Japanese Canadian award winning flutist and composer from Toronto. He plays a wide variety of indigenous woodwinds including Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and Cambodian instruments. And has concertized in many Asian countries including: Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan. He has 30 albums released internationally and in 2016 his album Asia Beauty was nominated for a Grammy® Award.

After graduating the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto in flute performance, he moved to Japan to study traditional shinobue and ryuteki flute with master flutist Akao Michiko. While exploring his Japanese heritage he recorded his seminal album Japanese Mysteries with Hiroki Sakaguchi in Tokyo and Osaka. During this period he began working as a songwriter for JCM writing songs for Hong Kong pop singers Alan Tam, Stephanie Lai, Yvonne Lau, Astor Fong and Roman Tam with some songs selling double platinum.

Ron represented Canada at 2005 Expo Aichi, Japan and the Shanghai International Arts Festival where won the audience choice award. In 2006, the Royal Ontario Museum commissioned Ron to compose and perform an original musical tribute at the opening of the Prince Takamado Gallery with Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado in attendance.

As a flutist he has played on many films with Asian subject matter including “The White Countess” (with Ralph Fiennes & Vanessa Redgrave), “Kama Sutra,” “China Rises,” and “The Terror” (a horror television series starring George Takei set in a Japanese American internment camp during the Second World War). He was also appeared on screen playing nohkan in the film “Nô” by director Robert Lepage based on his play The Seven Streams of the River Ota. He also played western classical flutes, Japanese and Chinese woodwinds on the worldwide top grossing film of 2020, “The Eight Hundred.”

Ron was featured in the documentary “Stolen Memories” about his aunt Kay Kamitakahara and his mother Mariko Ennyu Korb’s experiences during the evacuation in British Columbia. Mariko taught at the Pine Crescent School in the Slocan Valley where environmentalist David Suzuki, artist Aiko Suzuki and legendary architect Raymond Moriyama were pupils.

Ron performed and co-hosted with Terry Watada and Bryce Kanbara at Being Japanese Canadian: Reflections on a Broken World gala at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto in 2019. The exhibit featured works by eight Japanese Canadian artists about the internment. Ron also participated with pianist Jamie Parker in the speaker series We Should Know Each Other initiated by an idea author Joy Kogawa and coordinated by photographer Katherine Yamashita. In 2022 Ron played flute and was associate producer on the Grammy® Award winning album Divine Tides by Stewart Copeland (The Police) and Indian musician Ricky Kej.


The Beautiful Sadness composed by Ron Korb (music video)

Ron Korb speaks about his life and career with excerpts of his compositions: Blue Bamboo, Take My Hand, Little Jade, 1759, Ancient China, St. Johann, Hanoi Café, and Two Mountains.

Derek Kwan

Derek Kwan is a theatre performer/creator working at the intersection of various forms including opera, clown, and puppetry. His performing career has taken him across Canada and around the globe. Recently, he digitally hosted the WeeFestival; as a Therapeutic Clown, he participates in MABELLEarts’ food security program, MABELLEpantry; and performed in Factory Theatre’s audio drama series, You Can’t Get There From Here, Vol 1 & 2. Performance highlights include: The Tempest (Citadel Theatre); The Cave (LUMINATO 2019); Blood Weddings (Modern Times/Aluna); Mr. Shi and His Lover I (Tarragon/NAC), Claudia (Theatre Ignite, Taipei); The Curious Voyage (Talk is Free Theatre/London, England). He is the Artistic Director of Common Boots Theatre, and the Interim Co-Executive Director for Red Nose Remedy.

Excerpt from Lenski’s Aria from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Oregon
Die Krähe from Schubert’s Winterreise
Excerpt from Clérambeau’s Orphée
Blessing the Boats, by Ricky Ian Gordon and Lucille Clifton

Derek Kwan Website


Haneum is a Traditional Korean and Jazz fusion band. Formed in 2018 by members of the Korean Traditional Music Association of Canada, Haneum’s goal is to make and perform music that represents the Korean-Canadian identity.

Onara, Happiness (music video)

Haneum on Instagram

Sharon Lee

Korean-Canadian violinist Sharon Lee is Co-Artistic Director of Toronto Concert Orchestra and Music Director of the Korean-Canadian Symphony Orchestra. Sharon had her concerto debut with the Lawrence Symphony Orchestra at the age of ten, and is a recipient of the Ontario Arts Council’s Orford Quartet Award. Invited to join the studio of the late Professor Lorand Fenyves at the tender age of 16, Sharon performed at the Fenyves Memorial as his final pupil.


Kachi (New Years Song) – Traditional Korean
JOY for solo violin and string orchestra – Kevin Lau (Hong Kong born Canadian composer)
Arirang – Traditional Korean
Pining for Diamond Mountain – Post-Korean War art song, music by Choi Young Sub, lyrics by Han Sang Uk

Sharon Lee Website

Sodam Lee Milavic

Sodam Milavic is a lyric coloratura soprano who has a warm and colourful voice. Sodam has performed opera leading roles including Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann and Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, and she also has achieved success as a soloist in oratorios and mass settings including F.Poulenc’s Gloria, and R.V. Williams’ Dona nobis pacem.She won the People’s Favorite Choice Award in the Metropolitan Opera Council Auditions and many other competitions. Sodam started to pursue opera with her father, Euichun Lee. She completed her Master’s in Opera at University of British Columbia under the guidance of professor Nancy Hermiston and her bachelor’s at Kyungpook National University in South Korea also in Opera under the guidance of professor Soyoung Yoo. Currently, she performs as a professional opera singer and teaches voice not only operatic vocal but also musical and pop vocal, and piano as well.

The Loom Song 베틀노래(이원주) 소프라노 이소담, 피아니스트 장수연
Pear Blossom Rain 이화우(이원주) 소프라노 이소담, 피아니스트 장수연
Longing 연(이원주) 소프라노 이소담, 피아니스트 장수연

Facebook: sodam.lee.opera | Instagram:sodam.lee_opera
Contact Sodam Lee Milavic by email

Stephanie Nakagawa

Soprano, Dr. Stephanie Nakagawa, is a fourth-generation Japanese-Canadian from Vancouver, B.C. She has a great passion for Canadian opera. Her outstanding contribution to the field and her research work, 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.

Stephanie is an active performer and recitalist, and has performed across Canada and internationally. In addition to performing, Stephanie loves working with young aspiring singers as a teacher and adjudicator. She is also the music director and conductor of the Vancouver women’s chamber choir, Coro Cantare.

1. 早春賦 Sōshunfu | An Ode to Early Spring by Akira Nakada

2. 荒城の月 Kōjō no tsuki| The Moon Over the Ruined Castle by Rentarō Taki

3. Ninety-Nine Sandy Beaches by Hirai Kozaburo

4. からたちの花 Karatachi no hana | The Karatachi-orange flowers by Kōsaku Yamada


早春賦 Sōshunfu | An Ode to Early Spring by Akira Nakada



An Ode to Early Spring by Akira Nakada

People say that spring has come,
But the wind is rather cold
The bush warblers in the valley
Are ready to sing their songs
But they cannot sing their songs
In such cold weather
But they cannot sing their songs
In such cold weather.

I wouldn’t have known spring
Had come if someone hadn’t told me
So I decided to hurry to tell
My true feelings to my love
But would she receive my love
With her warm heart?
But would she receive my love
With her warm heart?

荒城の月 Kōjō no tsuki| The Moon Over the Ruined Castle by Rentarō Taki

春高楼の 花の宴
めぐる盃 かげさして
千代の松が枝 わけいでし
むかしの光 いまいずこ

秋陣営の 霜の色
鳴き行く雁の 数見せて
植うるつるぎに 照りそいし
むかしの光 いまいずこ

The Moon Over the Ruined Castle by Rentarō Taki

High up in the castle a flowery feast in spring
Moonlight reflected on the sake as they drank
Moonlight shined through the old pine branches
Where is that old moonlight now?

Site in autumn was white covered with frost
Geese honked as they flew across the sky
Moonlight on swords thrust into the ground
Where is that old moonlight now?

九十九里浜 Kujū-kuri-hama | Ninety-Nine Sandy Beaches by Hirai Kozaburo

沖はるかに 荒れて
浪たち 水平線

沖つ浪みるに はるけし

太平洋に まむかいて

Ninety-Nine Sandy Beaches by Hirai Kozaburo

Off the rugged coast
And on the straight horizon
The sun is rising
And the seabirds are flying

A huge wave came crashing
Its size was bewildering
And its distinctiveness
A once in a life-time sight.

There is nothing like being
Face to face with the Pacific Ocean
Standing on the white sandy beach
Of Kujū-kuri

からたちの花 Karatachi no hana | The Karatachi-orange Flowers by Kōsaku Yamada


The Karatachi-orange Flowers by Kōsaku Yamada

The flowers of the karatachi-orange are blooming.
Flowers of pure white are in bloom.
The thorns of the karatachi-orange can hurt you.
They are needles of pure green.
The karatachi-oranges make a hedge around the field, I used to walk beside them every day.
In Autumn, the flowers bear fruit.
Round, round balls of gold.
I have sobbed beside the karatachi-oranges.
People around me were all kind.
The flowers of the karatachi-orange are blooming.
Flowers of pure white are in bloom.

Wendy Zhou

Wendy started learning the pipa at the age of five. She competed in the Youth Pipa Competition in Suzhou, China, and received great praise. After immigrating to Canada in 2001, she began her studies with renowned pipa soloist, Ms. Gui-Lian Liu. Shortly after, Wendy joined the B.C. Chinese Orchestra in 2002 and held the position of Section Leader. During this time, she won multiple awards in the Kiwanis Music Festival. In 2005, she was also awarded the S.K. Lee Scholarship for Ethnic Instruments and won third place in the Kiwanis Gala Concert. Wendy subsequently completed the performance level in the Chinese Conservatory of Music Exam for pipa in 2007 and was highly praised for her performing abilities and sense of music. In 2010, she co-established Spire and began to explore the boundary of Eastern and Western music through rearranging and composing multiple pieces for the group. She has been involved in many contemporary Chinese performances such as The Monkiest King opera with Canadian Children’s Opera Company (2018–19) and Sound of Dragon Music Festival in Vancouver 2018 in Vancouver. She is also a part of Toronto Chinese Orchestra Chamber Players which hosts many local workshops and performances throughout the year.


Give me a Rose (video)
Wave Sweeping Sand (video)
Golden Snake Dance (video)

List of Supporters of Asian Heritage Month

Main Partner: Toronto Public Library
Canada 150 Activities showcasing the works from the school workshops are sponsored by Canadian Heritage Canada 150 Fund and York University Canada 150 FundCanadian Heritage Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Program

Canada Council for the Arts Digital Strategy Fund
Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto
Cambridge Food and Wine Society
Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture
Cheng Yu Tung East Asian Library, University of Toronto
Chi Ping Dance Group
Chinese Canadian Photographic Association of Toronto
Chinese Collective Arts Association
City of Toronto
Justin Poy Agency
Moon Pointer Production Inc.
Reel Asian Film Festival
ReelWorld Film Festival
Richard Charles Lee Canada-Hong Kong Library
Toronto Arts Council Toronto Catholic District School Board
Toronto District School Board
Toronto Public Library
WE Artists Association