Eastern Legends is the internationally-acclaimed sizhu musical group from Taiwan’s Chai Found Music Workshop. The six girl and one boy band plays Chinese chamber music and fuses traditional Asian music with other popular music genres of today.
They were invited by the Ottawa Chamber Music Society to come to Canada to perform at the CIBC LunarFest 2013 both in the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto and the Vancouver Art Gallery in Vancouver in Feb 2013 to coincide with the celebration of the Lunar New Year or the Year of the Snake.
The band employ a wide variety of Chinese musical instruments such as the Erhu 二胡, Pipa 琵琶, Guzheng 古箏, Yueqin 月琴, Se 瑟, Dizi 笛子, Xiao 簫, Laba 喇叭 and the like. The result is a mix of traditional Asian melody with an occasional best of rap and Hip-Hop.
LuarFest 2013 is mainly a Taiwanese and Korean culture showcase integrated with plenty of other Asian multicultural elements to delight kids and adults from all communities to celebrate the lunar new year.
Celine Dion was invited to perform in Beijing China at the 2013 Spring Festival Gala that rang in the first day of Lunar New Year, the Year of The Snake, on Feb 10, 2013.
The extravagant variety show featuring dozens of domestic celebrities is a traditional annual TV show broadcast by the state network CCTV (China Central Television) all across the country to help celebrate the Chinese New Year.
The Spring Festival Gala 2013 was also re-transmitted to an oversea audience all around the world including Canada here.
Celine Dion sang in Mandarin a duet 茉莉花 (Jasmine Flower) with China songstress Song Zuying 宋祖英. Then Dion sang solo her signature ‘Titanic’ movie theme song ‘My Heart Will Go On.’
According to a Xinhua Net report, this is the first time an A-list singer from the West like Celine Dion was being invited to perform at one of the most-watched television shows of the year in China, the Spring Festival Gala.
Celine’s Mandarin was certainly good enough. Her harmony with Song was exquisite. While Ms Song exhibited a more refined discipline, Ms. Dion’s free-flowing style provided a perfect counter-balance. To this viewer, it is like watching two superb artists applying vastly different brush-strokes on the same canvas that somehow mesh very well together.
VIDEO –China Spring Festival Gala in Beijing (Xinhua Net)
Year of the Snake 2013 Asian Expo Vancouver Lunar New Year celebration (Jan 31 – Feb 03, 2013) at BC Place in Vancouver BC, Canada. Chinese New Year multicultural celebration. Dance, Hip Hop, Model Search Competition, body-paint Fantasy Makeup Contest, Justin Lo Singing Show, Gary Chaw Concert etc.
It’s the Year of the Snake, so even a tortoise could be faster than a Ferrari!!
Dal Richards, the legendary Vancouver swinging big band leader celebrated his 95th birthday on Jan 05, 2013 and held a free concert in downtown Vancouver’s Robson Square Ice Rink on Jan 12th, 2013. While the skaters enjoyed free skates and was Twistin’ the Night Away with Diane Lines, some on the make-shift dance floor Sway and Straighten Up & Fly Right with Jennifer Hayes. As the band played some slick guitar, trumpet and saxophone Mambo instrumental, Dal Richards reminisced and remembered Where or When.
Some things that happen for the first time seem to be happening again…… A bit of Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Mambo, Broadway and more. That’s the magic of the Dal Richards & His orchestra!
Richards was newly crowned BC ‘Hepcat Laureate’ by BC Minister of State for Seniors Ralph Sultan. The accolade is the musician’s long line of honors that included memberships in the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia.
Richards was born in 1918 and began his professional musical career in 1940 and has continued to this day. He has no intention to slow down as he often addresses the crowd who come to his many concerts around the city and elsewhere.
The BC Minister of State for Seniors Ralph Sultan has this to say about the big band leader, born and raised in Vancouver, “Mr. Richards is a true B.C. icon, and this award and celebration are just small tokens of appreciation that we can show him, thanking him for seven decades of music and community involvement.”
Happy 95th Birthday, Dal! The Best is yet to Come!!!
It’s that time of the year again, with fire-a-burning and ‘People Get Ready’ (yeah, that song) as the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train on its Rock ‘n Roll trek is heading to a station near them.
In its 14th year, the 2012 trains have one running for Canada and one for the U.S. Beyond bringing joy and happiness of the holiday season to the masses, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) company also hopes the program will help raise awareness of the importance of local food bank along its vast North American network in serving local communities.
Both Christmas-lights adorned locomotives made stops at more than 150 communities and this being the Hurricane Sandy disaster year which destroyed many people’s homes and lives in the affected areas, CPR encouraged everyone to bring non-perishable food items and/or donate money to feed the hungry and needy.
The two holiday trains officially kicked off their journey on Nov 28, 2012. The Canadian Holiday Train started from Beaconsfield, Quebec, while the U.S. ‘train of lights’ began its trek through the American Northeast and Midwest from Scranton, Pa after making brief stops in Kahnawake, Delson, and Lacolle, P.Q.
Three weeks and thousands of miles later, the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train finally headed towards its final destination, Port Moody, BC. With snow on the ground, Dec 18, 2012 was an usual cold night at this suburb in Greater Vancouver. While all waited for Engine 9815 (the locomotive’s designation) to arrive, the Metro Vancouver Firefighters Band played light-hearted Christmas music right next to a campfire built by the Port Moody firefighters to keep the crowd warm.
Soon as the train pulled into the make-shift station behind the Port Moody Recreation Centre, band members Doc Walker, Miss Emily, Randall Prescott and the Brothers Dube opened up a boxcar stage and performed a number of Christmas and railroad songs including People Get Ready (by Curtis Mayfiled), Little Toy Train (Roger Miller) and others.
Prescott played a raspy and firey harmonica number that rocked the rollicking audience of about 200 people who gathered. Santa appeared on stage while his elves went around greeting the crowd as the band played ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’.
In the U.S., CPR offered a matching donation of up to US$250,000 for corporate and community donations made to any local food bank. In Port Moody, a check of CDN$7,000 was presented to the Share Family + Community Services.
As Miss Emily sang Silent Night and asked the crowd to join in, it was a lullaby for a good-night call. Mission accomplished, the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train 2012 sounded its whistler one last time and retreated from Port Moody.
Friends and families at the Amanda Todd Memorial Service at Red Robinson Theatre in Coquitlam BC Canada on Nov 18, 2012 paid their respects and celebrated the suicide teenager’s life. Mom Carol Todd spoke of her time with her ‘Snowflake Princess’ daughter and pledged to uphold the Amanda Todd Anti-Bulling legacy which had inspired hundreds of thousands from around the world.
The Amanda Todd Memorial Service was held at the Red Robinson Theatre in Coquitlam, BC Canada on Nov 18, 2012. The event was a celebration of her life by friends and families of the teenager who committed suicide shortly after making a 9-minute Youtube video using flash cards detailing her tormented existence of being cyber-bullied, blackmailed and emotionally and even physically abused both online and in real-life. Amanda died in October, 2012. She would have been 16 years old on Nov 27, 2012. The video had since then gathered millions of views on Youtube.
The celebration began at 1:30Pm and lasted a little over two hours. While a pastor delivered a sermon, friends of Amanda and a teacher went on stage one after the other (sometimes in a group), each gave a short speech to express their love, sadness and sympathy towards the teenager. Many whipped tears as they spoke. The last two persons to give dedications were also two of the most important people in Amanda’s life, her parents Norm and Carol Todd. Norm and carol had been divorced with Amanda living with her mom up until the time of the teenager’s suicide.
Princess Snowflake was what Amanda liked her mum to call her. Mother didn’t understand why snowflake at first, so she looked up an urban dictionary and found out that what Amanda referred to was the uniqueness of each snowflake that falls from heaven to earth.
In an emotional 18-minute speech, Carol Todd spoke of her life with her daughter, how they have enriched each other. Even the mother admitted she has learned from the daughter who departed way too soon. Carol told of a story about a month before Amanda killed herself. They were walking along a street and Amanda saw a penny on the ground. She flipped the coin over, made a wish and then moved on. When her mother asked her why she didn’t keep the coin, she said someone else might do as she did and the coin would then become a good luck charm. The mother would now take her daughter’s lesson to heart and would do the same when she encounters a coin on the ground.
There were three musical performances by Cole Armour, Michaela Slinger and Singer/Songwriter Elise Estrada who went on stage and sang her single “Wonder Woman” live at the Red Robinson Theatre and dedicated it to Amanda Todd as well.
Carol Todd’s dedication was full of examples like this that were intimate stories of their lives together. There were joy, humor and laughter among her speech as well, but the ex-Mrs. Todd frequently whipped tears from her eyes and professed to have known which type of Kleenex was the softest.
Mr. Todd’s speech was more subdued and he kept his head bowed down most of the time. A day earlier, he had a tattoo done to his left arm with two words ‘Stay Strong’. Amanda was inspired by Demi Lovato, an American pop singer, X-Factor judge and anti-bullying advocate who had a ‘Stay Strong’ tattoo with each word itched on her left and right wrist. Norm and Amanda were supposed to have the tattoo done together, but Norm kept his end of the bargain after his daughter had gone.
After all dedications were over, a Todd family video recording of Amanda belting out a Hillary Duff song ‘Someone Watching Over Me’ was played on the large overhead projection screen for the audience to see. Amanda had desired to become a popular singer and have the world appreciate her talent, but it was only in death that she became famous. To wrap everything up, a slide-show presentation followed which was a montage of family photos of Amanda, her parents and her brother accompanied by music.
The media was kept at bay and were restricted to two small backroom booths capable of holding about 15 people each. Those shooting photos and videos found themselves too far back to get any more intimate shots. A mid-section row or two reserved for photographers would have been much appreciated in this writer’s view. Members of the press are a well-behaved bunch and do know how to show respect and honor privacy.
The celebration was held inside a show theater that is part of a casino complex, not exactly a church or funeral home. Those in the media who generated awareness and will likely continue to do so for the Amanda Todd legacy should have been given more consideration in making their jobs easier.
After the celebration inside the 1,074 seat theater was over, everyone was invited to an outside tent for coffee, cupcakes and other refreshment. Man-made snowflakes surrounded the tent paid tribute to the one whose cut-short life was celebrated on that day.
[Photos & Videos by Ray Van Eng | www.vancouver21.com ]
One of the main events at the Remembrance Day 2012 ceremony was the Changing of the Guard in Victory Square by the Canadian regiment and RCMP. Two soldiers stood side by side at each of the three surfaces of The Cenotaph with their head bowed down in vigil.
Conducted by the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services Band, vocalists sung ‘Maple Leaf Forever’, ‘God Save the Queen’, ‘In Flanders Fields’ and other music. Many soldiers and military personnel that took part in the Second World War (WWII) came to paid respect and tribute. It was the thing to do and they don’t want to it miss it every year. Many arrived in wheelchairs and blankets to keep them warm in the usually chilly morning when the ceremony is invariably held at 11 AM sharp.
BC Premier Christy Clark, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and other dignitaries were present at the formality which also comprised what seemed to be the largest ever ensemble of Canadian regiment, RCMP, Vancouver police, cadets and veterans who took part in a Soldiers Parade at the end of the ceremony that has the Canadian military aircraft fly-by overhead multiple times.
On the other hand, at the end of the military procession, a small group with two elderly soldiers with their medals all decked out, walked slowly with others, accompanied by two younger men holding up a sign (about 5 ft by 10 ft) that read ‘LET PEACE BE THEIR MEMORIAL’. Many in the crowd along Hastings Street cheered and applause just like they did for the military personnel that marched earlier.
Diwali means the festival of light. The organizers of the Vancouver DIWALI 2012 (Nov 09, 2012) adopted the slogan “Light Your Spirit” to celebrate the universal light that exists in all of us. Enlightenment would perhaps be appropriate as well.
The evening’s programming included a number of highly sought-after dance and music acts from the Canadian South Asian community.
First up is the Chaniya Chokries Vancouver Garba Dance team at the Roundhouse Community Center in downtown Vancouver’s Yaletown on Nov 10, 2012. The dance story is the telling of the widely-known and popular Radha & Krishna tale that has long been an Indian folklore. The Chaniya Chokries dancers are Vancouver’s newest Garba dance team coming from a national competition in Canada where they placed first in their category.
Other performers included Merlyn Prakash, South Asian Arts from Panj Bhangra, Sangeeta Maruti, Amika Kushwaha, Lapis, Kathak + Flamenco Fusion, DJ A-Slam + Kytami, Vancity Bhangra, Shaimak Vancouver Bollywood Dance Team. Fusion seems to be a key concept and there are no shortages of cross-cultural collaboration between artists from very different backgrounds and artistic disciplines within this group.
To top off the evening at 8:30 PM, a band of percussionists brought together by Sal Ferreras lead the audience outside onto the ground where the old Engine 374 came to rest at the roundhouse which was renovated 26 years before in 1986 when the city of Vancouver celebrated its 100 years of incorporation. The locomotive engine now lies inside a glassy museum nearby.
There, band members played a variety of instruments including Bhangra drums, Taiko, Brazilian bongos and others. Many in the audience stood on their feet and danced enthusiastically as if to release some of the pent-up energy gathered from the night’s powerfully rhythmic beats and vibrant writhing bodily moves from many of the South Asian dance numbers earlier.
Once again, it is what this writer would proclaim ‘Bollywood in Vancouver’. Live!!
Shiamak Vancouver Bollywood Dance [A Video by Ray Van Eng | www.vancouver21.com ]
Chaniya Chokries Garba Girls Team [A Video by Ray Van Eng | www.vancouver21.com ]
Amika Kushwaha + Cassius Khan [A Video by Ray Van Eng | www.vancouver21.com ]
DJ A-Slam + Kytami [A Video by Ray Van Eng | www.vancouver21.com ]
VIDEO – 葉麗儀 上海灘+萬般情 Vancouver, Sep 22, 2012
A Video by Ray Van Eng [Scroll down to read more...]
Frances Yip 葉麗儀 上海灘 S.U.C.C.E.S.S. 2012 Charity Concert in Vancouver to Benefit Seniors & Women Services. The Hong Kong-raised pop superstar performed a variety of Cantonese, Mandarin, Taiwanese and English songs at The Centre in Vancouver, BC on Sep 22, 2012.
Frances Yip seems to have a fondness for movie songs in both English and Chinese. She even sang a few James Bond movie numbers such as Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, For Your Eyes Only etc. and plenty of classic Hollywood movie theme songs as well, including Over The Rainbow. According to her, that theme song from the 1939 production of The Wizard of Oz was the first tune that made her famous back in the early 1970s.
Her rendition of As Time Goes By (Casablanca) won her another round of applause from the audience that filled up the entire theatre with no seats unsold. All very well too, as the proceeds from the concert is to benefit the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Foundation in Vancouver to be used for seniors and women services and programs.
The singer is almost a senior citizen herself as she was born on October 22, 1947. Soon, she joked, she would be able to ride the MTR (Hong Kong Subway) for an elderly fare of just $2 for all zones. But would she need to do that? She has homes in Sydney, Australia and Hong Kong and travels the world often for concerts and other reasons. Besides, she is probably rich enough to own not only a car but a Rolls Royce has she been inclined.
Perfectly bilingual, she often spoke in both English and English to explain jokes to a mixed audience and mentioned that last year the royalty earned from her most famous tune, The Bund or Shanghai Beach 上海灘 alone was a six-figure sum mainly from ringtone downloads, much of which came from China.
All that brought us back to that famous Hong Kong TVB TV-series theme song from Shanghai Beach that shot her to superstardom almost overnight. She delivered the tune with such a perfect tempo that made you wonder if anyone could ever improve on it.
Very well-known internationally, Frances Yip has performed in over 30 countries across five continents, in concerts and on television. She has recorded over 80 albums, participated in three feature films and appeared in stage musicals.
2012 marks the 10th anniversary of Frances Yip’s first Charity Concert for the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. Foundation.
Mexico Fest 2012 in Vancouver, Jack Poole Plaza, Canada Place, Sep 08, 2012.
After Mexican Consul General Angel Villalobos sang the national Anthem, Mexicanos, Al Grito de Guerra, and waved the Mexican flag, the democracy protestors began to gather in front of the audience just below the stage. Nevertheless, it was a peaceful demonstration and everyone was very respectful of each other resulting in no confrontation at all. The majority of the crowd continued to enjoy the fiesta with appearances by Yam and Los Claxons.
Consul General Angel Villalobos sang ‘Mexicanos, Al Grito de Guerra’