How do the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and Taiwan bring back their traditional culture and mother tongues, how do they gradually break free from the shackles of colonial history, after so long of their culture and lifestyles being stolen and repressed? In a multicultural society, how do different generations of immigrants face the complexities of culture, and establish their own identities? Human migration creates cultural exchanges, but how does it simultaneously breed unique local characteristics? In appreciating the diversity around us, how can we inspire deeper reflection within ourselves?
Through various forms of artistic performances, today’s Indigenous communities are trying to preserve their unique cultures while also communicating and innovating with other cultures. Second-generation and onward immigrant Canadian musicians use sound as a medium to take on the important question of self-identity and create masterpieces. Through the process of playing music from all over the world, musicians not only learn to communicate with foreign cultures, but also internalize and explore their own roots, and transform songs into something localized to their own special style.
From magnificently intricate Chinese orchestral music, with its timeless traditional instruments and folk songs, to passionate electronic music and alternative pop, this music performance series is a fantastic journey. Sail through the waters of multiculturalism, experience the fluidity and resilience of self-identity, and feel the impact and beauty found in the intersection of cultures.
“No one is an outsider” is a song by Taiwanese Amis musician Panai Kusui, meaning everyone lives together on this land. The lyrics have been widely quoted in advocacy for various public issues. DJ Dungi Sapor, as an Indigenous musician, has always remained true to her own identity throughout her life journey. She combines electronic music with traditional cultural melodies and sounds to show the pride of the Indigenous peoples. Aiko Tomi is a Taiwanese-Japanese mixed-race female immigrant. She boldly expresses her multiple identities and social observations through indie rock music. These two musicians with their varying backgrounds will inspire each other and create sparks on the TAIWANfest stage, showing the unbreakable confidence in their self-worth.
DJ Dungi Sapor grew up in the glorious Cikasuan village of the Amis tribe in Hualien. She was discriminated against and excluded by her peers because of her Indigenous identity when she was a child, but this did not destroy her confidence in her identity. She even studied finance law in hopes of helping her tribe and her people, and was also briefly an assistant at the National Congress of Taiwan. By reinterpreting and innovating with new music, she integrates Indigenous culture into contemporary sound, breaking the stereotype of Indigenous music. At the same time, she appreciates the traditional sounds of the world’s Indigenous population. She is currently experimenting with integrating the hand drum of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, and will be sharing her new creation for the first time at this event.
Alt-pop artist AIKO TOMI is known for her big energy and unexpected lyricism. Her hyper-acute, internet-tinged pop songs are a neon-coloured social commentary on disposable culture and the ultra-connected, always-online presence that puts ego and image above all else. The bold physicality in both her visuals and live performances encourage audiences to embrace their own version of uninhibited expression. A self-described “spicy-wholesome Chaotic Neutral”, AIKO TOMI has appeared on Complex Canada, the TD Music Connected Series, Breaking Sound, and RAW Artists Canada.
The partnership with Maestro Ken Hsieh and TAIWANfest Orchestra has over the years evolved into an important platform for more than 40 local classical music artists. Voyage Across the Pacific will consist of music from both local and international composers, inviting the audience to relive the rigorous journeys across the oceans during the Era of Exploration and re-examining the traces left by that era in the present.
The TAIWANfest Orchestra performance is supported by the MPTF and TMA149
Edmonton-born with Taiwanese parents, Maestro Ken Hsieh is a world-renowned conductor who has performed in top venues around the world; he is also the founder, music director, and principal conductor of the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra. With his endless passion and compelling presence on the podium, Maestro Ken Hsieh has led the annual TAIWANfest Toronto Orchestra composed of dedicated local musicians since 2015.
How does Eastern orchestral music, with its long history, cultivate a unique identity in Taiwan? How does traditional Chinese music break stereotypes by re-interpreting Western-style compositions?
Putting their faith in using Chinese orchestral music to tell Taiwan’s most beautiful stories, the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan (NCO) prides itself on its roots in Taiwan’s local culture. Their main repertoire incorporates Taiwanese elements and local cultural influences. In addition to Indigenous folk songs and Taiwanese classic ballads, there are also many new pieces by Taiwanese composers that blend old and new melodies. These compositions utilize popular music harmonies and techniques, reinterpreted through the plucked string ensemble of Chinese music, giving each piece a distinctive flavour. In line with this year’s theme of the Era of Exploration, the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan will also present Taiwanese music that combines classical symphonic or Western folk styles, echoing the convergence of Eastern and Western cultures.
This year, the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan will perform live at TAIWANfest, showcasing Chinese orchestral music that embodies both innovation and tradition, and sharing the uniqueness of Taiwan’s music and culture. Let us immerse ourselves in their splendid sound, connecting Taiwan with the world through captivating music!
The National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan is affiliated with the National Center for Traditional Arts, and is a national-level Chinese Orchestra under the Ministry of Culture. Composed of elites from Taiwan’s traditional music circles, they are determined to explore traditions, acknowledge their homeland, and embrace the contemporary era. Their works take root in Taiwan’s traditional music, conveying Taiwan’s aesthetic through breathtaking performances, aiming to enhance the realm of Taiwanese music. The world is their stage, and music is the brush they wield to paint Taiwan’s self-portrait.
Exciting, playful, dazzling, and at times, serene, this cultural concert features the sounds of acoustic guitar, vocals, Chinese erhu, and Korean gayageum.
Singer-songwriter Ginalina, born and raised in Canada, with roots in Taiwan, writes warm folk and winsome family folk music themed in our connections to nature and each other. Recently, she released an album of adapted Eastern traditional songs to explore and celebrate her Asian roots, which was nominated for a Western Canadian Music Award. Roa Lee learned the gayageum in South Korea from a young age and ventured to Toronto to break through the barrier between traditional and contemporary music. Amely Zhou on the other hand, was exposed to traditional instruments in China and then came to Toronto where she studied these more deeply. A musician, composer, conductor, and music educator, she is dedicated to introducing more audiences to the timeless sounds of the guzheng and erhu.
Their joint performance is inspired by the theme of Belonging. They invite the audience to experience the emotions with them through their collaborative concert of traditional, modern, and original songs and tunes.
Ginalina is three-time Juno-nominated singer-songwriter, musician, and multidisciplinary artist with a focus in folk and family folk music. Her music and children’s books are inspired by nature, community, culture, and the connections we share between them. In 2021, her music was shortlisted for the National CBC Music in the Classroom Contest alongside 24 other artists including Shania Twain, Shawn Mendes, Nelly Furtado, and Arkells. In 2022, she released her debut fusion folk project titled, Going Back: Remembered and Remixed Family Folk Songs inspired by traditional songs from China and Taiwan, featuring guitar, guzheng, erhu, banjo, and other instruments. These songs were showcased at the debut Jade Music Festival in Vancouver, the historic Orpheum Theatre in Vancouver, the Vancouver Chinese Classical Garden, and as part of the 2023 Canadian Folk Music Awards. Ginalina has performed at Folk Music Festivals in Asia and across Canada including Mariposa (ON), Folk on the Rocks (NWT), Dawson City (YK), as well as numerous international children’s festivals in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and more.
Roa (HyunYoung) Lee is a composer, arranger and gayageum musician from Korea. She began playing when she was 7 years old and received formal training in high school and university for traditional performing arts. Her interest in collaboration and incorporating the gayageum with various music genres led her to study in Toronto, where, as a fearless musical challenger, she creates music rooted in traditional Korean ideas while integrating elements from a variety of other genres. A member of the Labyrinth Ensemble and a teacher, she’s performed with and at Small World Music, the Aga Khan Museum, Harbourfront Centre, the Four Seasons Centre, the Korean Traditional Music Association of Canada, the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Toronto, several municipal orchestras, and more.
Amely Zhou is an erhu performer, a Chinese music specialist, an adjudicator and a conductor. In 2014, Amely graduated from York University with a Specialized Honours B.A. in music. Amely’s music has been featured on TVO, Fairchild TV and CNTV. Amely is currently the music director of the Canadian Chinese Orchestra. Under the baton of Amely Zhou, the orchestra has toured in China and performed at the Markham Theatre, the Sony Centre, and the Mississauga Living Art Centre. In 2020, Zhou led a group of multi-ethnic ensemble Estro-genesis and performed a series of Canadian works for the Toronto Music Garden’s summer music program. Through an invitation from the Small World Music Society, Amely Zhou directed the Borderless Music project and produced a music documentary. Amely Zhou’s diverse talents and dedication to promoting Chinese music and cultural exchange have made her a prominent figure in the Canadian music scene, leaving a lasting impact through her performances, leadership, and collaborations.
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.