“Am I in the wrong place? Why isn’t it Taiwanese on stage?”
“What does stand-up comedy led by South Asian comics have to do with Taiwan?”
“Hong Kong people singing Cantonese songs is not Taiwanese culture, is it?”
Cross-ethnic curation has created such an “incomprehensible TAIWANfest”.
In fact, the curatorial process is like painting a self-portrait, the eyes move back and forth between the self in the mirror and the self in the painting, and sometimes the more you paint, the more confused you are. We keep asking: What is Taiwanese culture? What does our event bring as a Canadian festival?
TAIWANfest aims to make Canada’s diverse society more mature, and we aspire to create opportunities to discuss issues that we all care about with different communities and break down ethnic barriers. We actively invite other communities to dialogue with Taiwanese culture through art, and call on Taiwanese communities to echo the curatorial theme through performances.
The Cantopop band CCT uses Hong Kong and Taiwan’s golden classics to convey the spirit of anti-war and human rights as a response to our discussions around colonization. Stand-up comedy featuring South Asian, European, African, and Asian comics recreates the daily landscape of Canadian society. Chinese music orchestra Ho Deng Music Ensemble presents a number of Taiwanese and Dutch folk songs, echoing our imagination of the sprawling seas in the Age of Exploration.
So we ask you:
Does TAIWANfest reflect the Canada you know?
A land that truly embraces our diversity.
For the topics of immigration, identity, and Dutch colonial effect after four hundred years, from his perspective and voice, he has been trying to transfer these histories into melody. In this performance, he will bring songs he wrote in relation to these themes. His hope is that Taiwanese will never forget their own identity no matter what the history was.
Kerr Lee is a storyteller. Music is a way for him to channel his personal experiences into creativity. He plays multiple instruments, but the guitar holds a special place in his heart. As a Taiwanese Canadian independent musician, he has amassed many years of experience performing live. Kerr immigrated to Canada six years ago, and his travels have ignited his desire to capture diverse cultures, stories, and worldviews through his music and lyrics. Kerr has a multitude of thoughts he wants to convey, and he intends to transform them into songs to share with the world in the near future. There is an abundance of expression within him, waiting to be unleashed.
Each member of the band brings a unique musical background and a callback to their roots. Despite leaving their home countries, they remain deeply connected to their cultural heritage, and music serves as a powerful bridge between their past and present. With heartfelt lyrics, accompanied by a fusion of traditional and contemporary instruments, they create a powerful musical experience spanning from the Cantonese to Taiwanese and transcending borders.
Some band members were raised in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Hong Kong was colonized by Great Britain, and Taiwan was colonized by the Dutch and Japan, among others. The band thoughtfully includes popular songs from Hong Kong and Taiwan that echo the theme of decolonization.
Through their music, the band seeks to connect with fellow migrants, reminding them of their roots and inspiring them to embrace their new lives with hope and resilience. They aim to build bridges between cultures, promoting understanding and celebrating the diversity that makes our world so beautiful.
Formed in 2022, CCT Music gathers musicians from across the GTA to bring a new twist to your favourite golden oldies. Whether you’re a seasoned fan of Cantopop or discovering its magical allure for the first time, CCT Music guarantees an unforgettable experience! Let their enchanting melodies transport you to a world of fond memories, where oldie Cantopop reigns supreme, and the timeless classics find new life through their passionate performances.
Facing the water and singing a song—it’s like sending a message in a bottle. Because the distance is unknown, it’s more about letting emotions overflow into the sea. You see yourself in the waves, and you hear yourself in the song. A well-known folk song, “Reminiscence of Anping,” is the first thought of many elders in the community when they think of the Netherlands. The lyrics depict a Taiwanese woman carrying the golden-haired child of a Dutch ship doctor, waiting for her lover who never returned to the harbour. When people hear the melody, what they think of is no longer a melancholic love story, but their memories of Formosa. Ho Deng Music Ensemble will take you on a journey through time and the experiences of immigrants, as they perform songs about longing at the Harbourfront Centre. There, you will find unforgettable life stories that should not be forgotten.
Ho Deng Music Ensemble is a traditional music ensemble comprised of mainly children that started learning Chinese traditional instruments in Canada. Founder Jeanette Teng has been teaching students of all ages and backgrounds the techniques, art, and history of the same instruments that first captured her interest so many years ago. Ho Deng Music Ensemble has since earned awards at many competitions and has performed across the globe, including the founder’s birthplace of Taiwan and at the annual TAIWANfest.
Who’s joking? And more importantly, who’s laughing
TAIWANfest invites local comedians to share laughs ranging from a wide variety of topics. Overwhelmed with news on your multiple devices? Tired of the daily grind? Leave your worries at the door and bring your open mind! In the spirit of Taiwan and its freedom of speech, comedy is where lines are blurred and conversations are explored.
Catch Toronto’s best comedians as they take the stage at TAIWANfest for a hilarious night of standup comedy. Featuring comics seen on Just For Laughs, CBC, Roast Battle Canada, SiriusXM and more!
Danish Anwar is an award-winning comedian and a trendsetting producer known for selling out shows worldwide, from iconic venues like The Comedy Store in LA to the ultra-cool Tokyo Comedy Bar in Japan where he has become a recurring favourite.
Danish has worked with comedy titans like Dave Attell, Russell Peters, and Paul Provenza. He’s performed at prestigious festivals like Just For Laughs, Zoofest, & Magners International Comedy Festival in Bangkok, and created the global comedy sensation Your Hood’s A Joke, playing in LA, NYC, Tokyo and Toronto, expanding to Barcelona and Amsterdam in 2023.
Danish boasts multiple appearances on TV & Radio, such as CBC comedy specials Truth Bomb, Fish Out Of Water, & Truth To Power, regular appearances on morning TV, CBC’s The Debaters & Laugh Out Loud, and the award-winning documentary “Stand Up Toronto”, commissioned for Canada’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
He also writes for CBC’s Because News, one of Canada’s most popular radio shows with a million weekly listeners.
Ronald Hae is a comedian based out of Mississauga. His act is centered around Asian culture, life as a teacher, and his family. He started his comedy training at The Second City in Toronto. He has performed at the Brantford Rising Stars Festival, been featured on Sirius XM radio, and made his Just for Laughs Toronto debut in 2022.
Ronald is also the host of a bi-weekly podcast called The Teacher Hotline. The show was recently ranked the #6 Educational Podcast for Teachers in Canada. You can listen to him on Apple, Spotify, Google, and all podcast platforms every Monday.
Zabrina Douglas is a Canadian stand-up comedian who broke through to wider success in 2020 as the headliner of Laughter from the Frontlines, a virtual comedy show organized by Daniel Woodrow’s Unknown Comedy Club featuring frontline health care workers performing comedy and storytelling about coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.
She subsequently produced the show Things Black Girls Say, and her comedy album Things Black Girls Say: The Album received a Juno Award nomination for Comedy Album of the Year at the Juno Awards of 2023.
Dave Burke is a stand-up comedian based in Toronto. He recently recorded a CBC TV Gala at the 2022 Winnipeg Comedy Festival and performed at Massey Hall. Dave has appeared at the Boston Comedy Festival and his debut album Sexual Cactus can be heard on SiriusXM Radio. Dave performs at Yuk Yuk’s comedy clubs across Canada, and has written and performed for Your Hood’s a Joke at JFL Zoofest.
Show is rated G but recommended for 18+ audience. Viewer discretion is advised.
Toronto artist and singer-songwriter Chynna Lewis is joined by producer/guitarist Tom Hanley for their first TAIWANfest Performance. The acoustic duo will be performing a set of Lewis’s originals from her EP ‘What are Friends For’, released just last year along with new material which will be featured on her debut full-length record.
Chynna Lewis is a Pop/R&B singer-songwriter based in Toronto. Her music deftly weaves R&B, soulful vocals, and folk into classic pop songwriting, creating a dreamy, modern, and genre-blurring sound. Her unique style can be found in her most recent self-produced EP “What Are Friends For”.
As a vocalist, Lewis has supported international and local artists such as Ed Sheeran, Jessie Reyez, Charlotte Day Wilson and Jully Black, and has appeared on world-renowned stages such as the Late Late Show with James Corden, The Budweiser Stage, Scotia Bank Arena, and Toronto Jazz Festival. Recently she opened the Toronto Raptors’ NBA Game by leading both the Canadian and American National Anthems on home court.
Since moving to Canada from Taiwan at the age of eleven, her journey as a young immigrant navigating a culturally in-between identity and finding an unlikely place in the arts is what inspired her to begin writing her own songs on the family piano. These creative instincts eventually led her to her career in music.
Striving to be a contributor to the representation of Asian artists in the music industry, Lewis is overjoyed to be sharing her first EP with the world. Currently, she is working on her sophomore full-length album, which is set to be released in 2024.
Being able to sing and express one’s culture in a comfortable social environment is the most joyful thing! At the same time, language is an important carrier of culture, reflecting the values, customs, and traditions of society. Taiwan and Canada have both attracted immigrants from various countries, creating opportunities for multiculturalism. However, in the socio-political, economic and cultural areas, minority languages may be neglected.
Taiwanese songs use Taiwanese Hokkien as the main singing language. It uses unique phonetics, vocabulary, and grammatical structures. It expresses feelings in a direct and sincere manner, evoking strong emotional resonance. However, the status of Taiwanese Hokkien has gradually decreased within Taiwan, and is less often heard in urban cities.
The Toronto Branch of the Global Federation of Chinese Business Women is dedicated to revitalizing the transmission of Taiwanese culture through the performance of Taiwanese songs. They also encourage people who use Taiwanese Hokkien to maintain a sense of pride. In addition, President Candy Lin has been particularly influenced by Taiwanese singer Chan Ya-Wen, dedicating herself not only to the preservation of Taiwanese culture but also actively contributing to local communities in Toronto. This allows the Taiwanese community to establish closer interpersonal relationships, increase social collaboration and connectivity, and create a more harmonious and inclusive social environment through singing and understanding their own language.
The purpose of the Global Federation of Chinese Business Women is to unite Chinese businesswomen around the world, with a global perspective, to build consensus, contribute their talents, and care for every corner on earth. The association actively establishes a platform for interpersonal networking, keeping up with changes, engaging in experience sharing, and sharing resources. In response to the rapid changes in the world, the association takes initiative to seek new knowledge, cultivate leadership and management skills among Chinese businesswomen, enhance their global economic competitiveness, and promote the protection of the rights and interests of Chinese businesswomen in various countries. At the same time, it also assists in promoting public diplomacy, enhancing international cultural and business exchanges, and actively developing international economic and trade cooperation.
For Early Announcements And More
Performance / Vendor / Sponsorship Opportunities
TAIWANfest Toronto is grateful to be held on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, that is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We acknowledge our privilege to be gathered here, and commit to work with and be respectful to the Indigenous peoples of this land while we engage in meaningful conversations of culture and reconciliation.