Showcase SeriesTaking place in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at the Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts, the Showcase Series features artists and creatives from the Asian, African & Caribbean and Latin American diasporas, to celebrate and honour these many cultures and histories.
This series continues to fulfill the Canadian Opera Company's mandate for increased access to the arts through developing new relationships and partnerships with diverse communities and championing culturally responsive and engaged learning opportunities.
May 2022: Asian Heritage MonthThe inaugural series will present five events that will highlight and share the beauty of music, cultural identity, and language, and also support an understanding of the vast range of identities and experiences within Asian communities. Participants will have the opportunity to experience musical performances that feature Chinese calligraphy, Japanese folk drumming traditions, Malaysian choral music, and much more.
Performances take place in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre from 12-1pm. All events are FREE but require registration. Register online below or call COC Ticket Services at 416-363-8231 to reserve your spot.It is our policy to overbook. In the event of reaching full capacity, your reservation may not guarantee admission. Unclaimed reservations will be released to a standby line 10 minutes prior to the start of the program. We recommend that you arrive at least 20 minutes before the event start time.
Limited seating is available on a first-come-first-served basis for 100 guests. Once these seats are filled, all other guests will be standing for the duration of the performance. Seats cannot be held or reserved in advance.
Please note: Throughout our performance run this spring, masks will remain mandatory for all audiences, unless actively eating or drinking. Find our latest health and safety policies at coc.ca/SafeReturn.
12 P.M.–1 P.M.
The Vibrant Resonance of Shufa and Dance
Showcasing the art and living history of Chinese Calligraphy
Chinese calligraphy (Shufa) Master Man Kuen Wong and contemporary choreographer Naishi Wang pair together in a session focused on the alignment between movement, rhythm, the body, and traditional principles rooted in the art of Shufa. Responding to each other’s practice, they explore how form and structure of language not only hold meaning in expression, but also as a manifestation of the balanced energies of nature and the human body—just as the brush is an extension of the writer or artist’s arm. This intergenerational collaboration showcases the philosophies and bodily experience of Shufa, and how the art form inspires new pathways of exploring and honouring Chinese culture.
12 P.M.–1 P.M.
Ancient Rhythms | Future Echoes
While rooted in the folk drumming traditions of Japan, Nagata Shachu's principal aim is to rejuvenate this ancient art form by producing innovative and exciting music that seeks to create a new voice for the Taiko. Featuring an arsenal of taiko, bamboo flutes, gongs, cymbals, and wood blocks, Nagata Shachu will take you on a musical journey beyond all borders. The ensemble will perform a selection of original works ranging from haunting bamboo flute melodies to thunderous, earth-shaking pieces that the Japanese taiko has become known for.
12 P.M.–1 P.M.
From the COC Community
In many ways, the term "Asian" is an insufficient term to encompass the diversity of experiences and identities that are meant to fall under its umbrella. From North to South, and East to West this concert hopes to offer a prismatic picture of what Asian Heritage means at the COC. Accompanied by Timothy Cheung (former COC Ensemble Studio), Saeideh Rajabzadeh (Community Partnerships & Programs), Keith Lam (Ticket Services) and Midori Marsh (COC Ensemble Studio) will share reflections on their experiences and relationships with their Asian identity, as it intersects with music and opera. Each will perform a song selection that relates to their personal journey and story, as part of this recital. Additional stories and song selections from past & present COC employees will also be reflected on the Showcase Series webpage; after the performance.
12 P.M.–1 P.M.
Rasa Sayang: From Malaysia, With Love
This session explores composer Tracy Wong’s lived experience as a first generation Canadian immigrant, conductor, and musician in introducing well-known Malaysian folk songs to North American communities. Held in an interactive lecture-recital style, audience members will have the opportunity to explore & sing a few well-known folk songs, with the support of members from the Hamilton Children's Choir. Additional resources will also be available after the session.
12 P.M.–1 P.M.
Singing Chinese Classical Poetry 古韻新唱
Collaborative pianist, Jialiang Zhu will introduce art songs based on classical Chinese poetry which has been set to music by contemporary composers from different Chinese-speaking communities around the world. These collections of song text explore three universal subjects—love, women, and reflection on life. Sopranos Zi Xin Emily Lapin and Maeve Palmer will demonstrate how composers work with the musical quality in Chinese poetry and how the sound of the Chinese language and interpretation of Chinese poetry impacts one’s musical interpretation. Brief video clips will also be played to demonstrate how non-native speakers can learn to grasp Chinese pronunciation in order to perform the repertoire.
Meet the Artists
Master Man Keun Wong – 黄文權老師 is the founder of the SPACE Shufa Club. His interest in Chinese Calligraphy (Shufa) began in his early 30’s, under the tutelage of mentor Tse Hay (謝熙). Despite a busy professional work schedule, he graduated from Hong Kong University’s School of Professional and Continued Education in Chinese Calligraphy. He has since devoted himself to promoting and teaching the art of Shufa for more than 30 years. Master Wong is an active and well-loved member of the community within the GTA, organizing an annual Shufa exhibition with his students, and teaching for non-profit organizations. Master Wong has been a Shufa adjudicator for the Chinese Arts and Literary Contest for Youth since 2010, and was awarded the 15 years Ontario Volunteers Service Award in 2020. He lives in Thornhill with his family, enjoying nature and spending time with his grandchildren, Ingrid, Sophie, Alex, Mia, and Ryan. Master Wong would also like to acknowledge his team for their support: Simon Lau, Elza Lee, Irene Leung, Terrisa Ng & Macy Siu.
Naishi Wang - 王乃石 was born in Changchun, China and while still young settled in Toronto, Canada. He is inspired by the rich culture of his Chinese heritage, which influences his choreographic creations. As an award-winning performer and choreographer, Wang's development aligns with his belief that the performing arts can help us see new, real and imaginary perspectives. Central to his work is the questioning of how to open up new realms of perception. His rigorous practice centres intertwining approaches from “communication” to “translation” from a somatic and conceptual point of view expressed through repetition, contortions, waving, pulsing, and shaking. Naishi is currently artist in residency at the Citadel, Harbourfront Centre, TOlive, Laboratory for Artistic Intelligence and Dance 4 (UK). His recent work has received additional support through; Respirations du FTA (20-21) and Small Scale Creation Fund from CanDance (20-21). https://naishi.dance/
Cecilia Siu – 蕭楊家蘭 is an artist, nurse, and mother. Originally from Hong Kong, she pursued oil painting with Chinese artist Li Qiang Sheng, exhibiting in Hong Kong and China. After immigrating to Canada, her commitment to instilling an awareness of Chinese culture in her children led to an active volunteer career, taking leadership as Secretary of the Overseas Chinese Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the Vice-Chair and Director of the Association of Chinese Arts and Literary Contest for Youth. For 10 years, she helped build a platform for Ontario youth to learn and share their talents in Chinese language and the arts. She has followed Master Shan Bai Qin in Chinese painting since 2009, and Master Man Kuen Wong in Shufa since 2010, playing a key role in organizing exhibitions of these two masters’ works in Canada. In her spare time, she enjoys Tai Chi, and singing lessons with musician Xin Wang.
Nagata Shachu, based in Toronto, has enthralled audiences with its mesmerizing and heart-pounding performances of the Japanese drum (taiko) since its formation in 1998. The group has toured widely throughout Canada, the US and Italy and has performed at major engagements in Mexico and Lebanon.
While rooted in the folk drumming traditions of Japan, the ensemble’s principal aim is to rejuvenate this ancient art form by producing innovative and exciting music that seeks to create a new voice for the taiko. Taking its name from founder Kiyoshi Nagata and the Japanese word "shachu" meaning group, Nagata Shachu has become renowned for its exacting, straightforward yet physically demanding performances, as well as for its diverse repertoire. Their playing is the combination of unbounded spirit and passion with the highest levels of musicianship and discipline. The result is an unforgettable experience that is both powerful in expression and heartfelt in its sincerity.
Born in Hong Kong, Timothy Cheung is a pianist and vocal coach based in Toronto. A graduate of multiple prestigious young artist programs—the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, the Merola Opera Program, and Music Academy of the West—he has gone on to work extensively in Canada and the United States. At Palm Beach Opera, he served as the Principal Coach and the Head Coach of the Benenson Young Artist Program. At Teatro Nuovo in New York, formerly Bel Canto at Caramoor, he works in a hybrid role of music staff and administrator. He has been the music director for many outreach programs at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. He has also worked as a music staff member for Houston Grand Opera. Mr. Cheung holds a Master of Music in Collaborative Piano and a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Western Ontario.
Saeideh Rajabzadeh is a mezzo-soprano, musicologist, music director, educator, and community builder with a passion to serve and to meaningfully contribute to the conversations of diversity and inclusion through her research and performance work. Over the past few years, she has performed and led public choral programming that included music by BIPOC, women, and Canadian composers in over ten languages.
Rajabzadeh holds a Master’s of Arts in Musicology, a Graduate Diploma, and a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from the University of Ottawa. Between 2019-2021, she produced and authored a thesis research project entitled “‘Haply I may remember, And haply may forget’: The Doubled Nature of Intertextual Genre Relationships in Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Six Sorrow Songs, Op. 57.” Her current role with the Canadian Opera Company, as the Coordinator of Community Partnerships & Programs, is in line with her advocacy for inclusion by bringing accessible music programs to underserved communities through creativity and collaboration.
Hong Kong born-Canadian baritone Keith Lam was described as “a suave, fine grained baritone” by the Boston Globe. This season he will make his European debut with Soundstreams/Crow's Theatre for the revival production of Claude Vivier's Musik für das Ende in England and Germany. An advocate for new creations, he has appeared in roles such as the Boss in Juliet Palmer’s Sweat, Major Lyons in Stephanie Martin’s Llandovery Castle, Javan in Leslie Uyeda’s When the Sun Comes Out, Tobin Stokes’ The Vinedressers, and John Estacio’s Frobisher and Lillian Alling. His other past operatic roles include Schaunard in La Bohème, Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro, Melisso in Handel’s Alcina, Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Sacristan in Tosca, and Achis in Charpentier’s David et Jonathas. He was the audience prizewinner at the Classical Music Consort Handel Competition, finalist at the 2013 Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra Competition, and placed third in the 2014 NYCO Mozart Vocal Competition. Keith is a member of the Canadian Opera Company chorus and the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir and has made appearances with companies such as Tapestry Opera, Opera Atelier, Against the Grain Theatre, Bicycle Opera Project and Theatre of Early Music. He is an alumnus of the Aspen Opera Theater, Banff Centre’s Opera as Theatre program, Opera NUOVA, Highlands Opera Studio, and the Tafelmusik Baroque Institute.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Midori Marsh recently completed her Master of Music in opera at the University of Toronto. Past engagements include Sarah Thorpe in No One’s Safe and Johan’s Mother in Silent Light (Banff Centre); Frasquita in Carmen (Waterloo Symphony); Arminda in La finta giardiniera, Rose Maurrant in Street Scene, Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro, and Mary Crawford in Mansfield Park (UofT Opera); Annina in La Traviata (Cambridge Symphony Orchestra); Zerlina in Don Giovanni (Portland Summer Opera Workshop); Laurie Moss in The Tender Land, and Antonia in The Tales of Hoffmann (Opera Laurier). In 2019, she took home both the First Prize and the Audience Choice Award at the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio Competition. Marsh was recently seen in Against the Grain’s 2020 digital web series, A little too Cozy, performing the role of Despina.
Dr. Tracy Wong hails from Malaysia and is a choral conductor, music educator, composer, vocalist, and pianist. Dr. Wong is passionate about helping choral educators to provide unique experiences for their students through collaborative commissions, customized workshops, festivals, and artist residencies. She has conducted workshops for choirs in North America, Malaysia, Brunei, France, Ireland, and Portugal.
Dr. Wong is the Assistant Professor of Choral Studies at Western University, London, Ontario, where she conducts Chorale and Les Choristes ensembles. She also conducts the Grand Philharmonic Youth Choir in Kitchener. Dr. Wong holds a Doctor in Musical Arts and Master in Music Performance (Choral Conducting) degrees from the University of Toronto and is also a proud recipient of the 2016 & 2017 Elmer Iseler National Graduate Fellowship in Choral Conducting, and 2018-19 McMaster University Student Union Teaching Award.
Dr. Wong’s choral works are available on Cypress Choral Music (Canada), Graphite Publishing (US), and Young Choral Academy (Malaysia). They have been performed by Malaysian, North American, European, and Southeast Asian choirs at international competitions and festivals. www.tracywongmusic.com
Hamilton Children’s Choir is a community-based children’s choral music education program that welcomes any young person who has a love of singing.
In its 47th year of choral artistry, Hamilton Children’s Choir offers eight progressive choral music education programs and a new Virtual Vocal Studio online program that are currently enjoyed by almost 200 young singers between the ages of 4 and18.
Each choir program is purposefully designed to foster creative expression, personal development and social growth by providing young singers with exceptional vocal music instruction, music theory, performances and touring opportunities.
Under the artistic leadership of internationally acclaimed Zimfira Poloz and her team of superb artistic staff, Hamilton Children’s Choir is dedicated to creating life-changing musical experiences, exploring fresh approaches to choral music that reduce barriers, strengthening the choral artform and demonstrating the philosophy that ‘excellence has no age.'
Chinese pianist Jialiang Zhu passionately embraces vocal collaboration, chamber music, and solo music. In 2021, she participated in the recording of Chinese-Canadian composer Alice Ping Yee Ho’s album A Woman’s Voice. Her research in Chinese art song has led to a lecture recital at the University of Toronto, presentations at multiple institutions, and an article in the Art Song Canada Winter 2022 Issue. Jialiang co-founded the Bedford Trio with violinist Alessia Disimino and cellist Andrew Ascenzo in 2016. They are the inaugural Irene R. Miller Piano Trio in Residency at the U of T’s Faculty of Music and adjudicated the first edition of the U of T Piano Trio Composition Competition. As a featured soloist, she performed Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with conductor Trevor Dearham and York Chamber Ensemble. She is a Doctoral of Musical Arts candidate at the U of T, where she studies with Prof. Lydia Wong.
Zi Xin Emily Lapin is a Chinese-Canadian soprano based in Toronto, Ontario. A recent graduate of the University of Toronto, she obtained both a Master of Music and a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance. Amidst COVID-19, Emily was featured in various digital performances including the premiere of Palej’s digital opera Art of Love with COSA Canada, pianist Jialiang Zhu’s lecture recital showcasing Chinese Art Song and Brampton’s Vibrant Classical Music and Dance Festival. Other performance highlights include the title role in Semele (Toronto Opera Lyric Theatre), Second Woman in Dido and Belinda (OperaQ), and Papagena in Die Zauberflöte (Halifax Summer Opera Festival). She has been featured numerous times as a soloist and chorister in VOICEBOX: Opera in Concert’s productions. In past summers, she sang Solomon’s Queen in Handel’s Solomon (Victoria Conservatory of Music) and studied at the Stratford Summer Music Vocal Academy. Emily is also an active voice and piano teacher to all ages.
“Virtuoso singer” (WholeNote), and “triple-threat ... talented coloratura” (OperaCanada) Maeve Palmer is an alumna of the Rebanks Family Fellowship, and the University of Toronto (UofT) Opera School. Maeve is the winner of the 2021 Jim and Charlotte Norcop Prize in Song (UofT), and is a prize winner of the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition. She has performed with Opera Atelier, New Music Concerts, Continuum Contemporary Music, Off Centre Music Salon, and on the COC Free Concert Series. Her voice can be heard in the Hollywood film The Space Between Us. Recent operatic roles include Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro), Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos), and Mary Crawford (Mansfield Park). World and Canadian premieres include works by Nicole Lizée, Alice Ping Yee Ho, and Samuel Andreyev. Maeve is a Massey Junior Fellow in her doctorate at UofT where she studies with Prof. Lorna MacDonald. Maeve is delighted to return to the COC Free Concert Series for Asian Heritage Month.
Frequently Asked Questions
There is no late seating for performances in the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre and re-admittance during the performance cannot be accommodated.
We recommend that you arrive at least 20 minutes before the event start time and remain for the duration of the performance.