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.
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!!!
Vancouver needs a public, outdoor, open-to-all New Year’s Eve (NYE) Party. Not only for all citizens to celebrate the new year but also a perfect opportunity to remind the world of our unique heritage and formidable capabilities in hosting global events like the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Expo 86 and so on.
New Year’s Eve is the single most recognized event in the world among all cultures. That is why all major cities around the globe put on an elaborate show and are competing for attention. Not only should Vancouver be among them, we should shine in our own special way to claim our position as the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest. Please do not hand Seattle that honor. To not participate in the NYE party tradition and be in tune with the rest of the world is to miss out on one of the best times of the year to promote our city.
Yes, there is a mini-NYE celebration at Robson Square for 2013, but the skating ring area is simply too small to host such a premiere event. Jack Poole Plaza is the right place to do it. We have the Christmas tree there with the Vancouver Convention Center and Canada Place nearby, two buildings that have connections to the city’s glorious past as host to a winter Olympic and world exposition as we look forward to build even better future.
We could further reinforce our international image as a city that is committed to sustainability principles and reducing carbon footprint by only re-lighting the Olympic Cauldron at the moment of count-down. This would be even better than a simple ball-drop to serve notice to the world of our serious intention to become the Greenest City in the World by 2020, a vision of yours, Mr. Mayor, that many of us wholeheartedly support and feel have a role to play in the implementation of the Greenest City 2020 plan.
Vancouver is not only a world-class city but one that many others look upon with admiration and even envy. To be without a NYE bash for a city like ours is like running a global business without an impressionable web site these days. It is not even an option. People won’t take you seriously.
Please Mr. Mayor, allow me to urge City Hall and Council to take action to start the new year right for 2014 and plan a NYE bash for those of us who live here and use that opportunity to tell the world of our many attractive attributes as a global destination for tourists, innovative hub for leading businesses and great place to live.
Thank you very much. My very best wishes to you and your council and have a wonderful 2013!
Bright Nights in Stanley Park 2012 (Nov 29, 2012 – Jan 1, 2013) is entering its 15th season. And it’s that time of the year again. Christmas, Santa, Silent Night, Noel, Yuletide, New Year, Boxing Day, Hanukah & Seasons Greetings.
Same as before, Bright Nights is a family-friendly event and an opportunity to raise money for the British Columbia Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund. It is for a charity cause to honor the men and women who put their lives on the line every time they go out to save those who might be threatened by a raging fire or trapped in a dangerous environment. So be generous.
Entry to the Christmas Park display area is FREE and the entire place is adorned with Christmas-themed décor—reindeer, Santa, gingerbread houses, nutcrackers, presents, Christmas lights etc. A ticket is required for the Christmas Miniature Train Ride. (Prices are listed below.)
The Stanley Park miniature train, a key component that had made Bright Nights and other events such as the Halloween Ghost Train and Klahowya Village Train a great success every year, was transformed into the Bright Nights Train as it rode through the world-famous Douglas fir and cedar forest illuminated by what seemed like millions of colorful lights just in time for the holiday season.
Though smaller in size and stature than a life-size train, the engine designation is a special one – Engine 374. The namesake of which is the engine that pulled the first-ever transcontinental train to arrive in Vancouver in May 1887 all the way from its shop in Montreal.
Here at Stanley Park, the miniature train pulls passengers through an unforgettable journey of a brightly–lit Christmas Winter Wonderland. The view at the bridge over a lake is awe-inspiring and the trip boring through a tunnel full of modern cave-like paintings brings sheer delight of love, peace and joy. It just stimulates the mind.
indeed, Bright Nights at Stanley Park is not just for kids, adults enjoyed it just as much. Many come with their family to get into the Yuletide mood. This year’s the train’s soundtrack includes many modern renditions of old Christmas favorites for your enjoyment. You won‘t be disappointed.
Ho-ho-ho, Santa’s waiting.
Chritmas Train Ride Tickets -
Adult: $10.00 includes HST;
Child, Youth & Seniors: $7.00 includes HST
(Children & Youth 3-17, Seniors 65+)
Children Under 3 years of age are FREE
Christmas park admission is FREE
Advance tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.ca or charge by phone: 1-855-985-5000. (Note that Ticketmaster services charges apply)
CandyTown 2012 Vancouver Christmas Celebration Arrived Early in a Horse-draw Carriage through Historic Yaletown for the Holiday Season
One of the first to get into the spirit of the holiday season in Vancouver BC, the inaugural CandyTown 2012 at Yaletown celebrated the Yuletide season with a two day festival (Nov 24-25, 2012) that also helped re-introduce the historic heritage region of Yaletown to locals and visitors alike.
Presented by Concord Pacific, CandyTown 2012 is also the only FREE outdoor Christmas event in town. Kids and adults were invited to skate for free at the Scotiabank Ice Rink in Bill Curtis Square (right next to the Yaletown Rouindhouse Skytrain station) for the two days from 3PM – 9PM. On Saturday, NHL star Trevor Linden made an appearance from 12 Noon to 3PM and passed out autograph for fans. A signed Trevor Linden hockey jersey was also awarded to a lucky fan who entered the draw.
At the All I Want for Christmas Street Market, one of the boutique shops would seem to have something that you always wanted on sale to make the area an even more attractive locale to do your Christmas shopping.
One of the key highlights of the festival is the FREE horse-drawn carriage sponsored by Concord Pacific and hosted by Allan Financial that took passengers on a short 10-minute trip across historic Yaletwon which like Gastown elsewhere in the city used to be an industrial area but now filled with upscale boutiques and shops. Many generous riders gave donations at the end of the tour which were gladly accepted.
Ho-Ho-Ho, a long line of visitors also sat on Santa’s lap at a nearby tent and had their friends and family took photos of them using their iPhone, Blackberry and other what-have-you camera gear. An iPad user was seen sweeping the scenery shooting video to capture the festivities.
Indeed, the festival promised to have something for everyone. Join the Candytown Cocktail Tour if you like and follow the large martini glass sign and you will find your perfect candy-themed cocktail mix at participating Yaletown restaurants, taverns and bars.
By nightfall, the ice sculptures at the 1000-block Mainland Street glowed in the dark with changing colored-lights lit from below. Christmas-costumed figures leisurely strolled by to add to the carnival atmosphere for the holiday season.
Ah, allow me, clumsy as it maybe, to change the lyrics to the song ‘Let It Snow’ to fit the mood –
Oh the weather outside is not frightful
The ice sculptures delightful
Since we have CandyTown to go
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…
[Photos & Video by Ray van Eng | www.vancouver21.com ]
Vancouver Christmas Market Brings Old-World German Holiday Tradition & Best Shopping Experience You’ll Have All Season to Vancouver BC, Canada.
Get into the Holiday Spirit, Vancouver!
The Vancouver Christmas Market (VCM) follows the centuries-old tradition of a German Christmas market and brings all the cultural delights at this time of the year from Deutschland to all families from every community in this part of the world to help celebrate the holiday season. Besides Christmas-themed foods and entertainment, the VCM promises to offer the best shopping experience you’ll have all season as well.
This year as was last year, the location of the Vancouver Christmas Market is at the open plaza area right next to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre (QE Theatre). It is a good location and just a short 5-minute walk from the Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain station and readily accessible to buses including some Northshore lines.
As suggested by VCM which tries its best to follow sustainable eco-friendly principles, the best way to get the market is by making use of public transportation. Though parking is also conveniently located including one that is right underneath the QE Theatre should you decided to drive.
This QE Theatre location is also where the First nations Aboriginal Pavilion was during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. In fact, the founder and president of VCM, Mr. Malte Kluetz indicated that he was inspired by that global sporting event that further established the City of Vancouver as an international destination to setup a world-class Christmas market with ideas based on his homeland country of Germany.
So what can be found inside the Vancouver Christmas Market?
With 45 vendors participating this year, many of then from Germany and Austria, the VCM offers a sampling of products, services and entertainment from the Bavarian country and surrounding regions. Here, you will find Bavarian Weisswurst, German Bratwurst, Swiss chesses, salted Bretzels, waffles, cinnamon bakeries, fine Belgian chocolates and the many different varieties of hand-crafted and painted chocolate candies.
Yes, there is a Carousel ride which is Vancouver’s first and only Christmas Carousel at $3 per ticket or 5 tickets for $10 too. Information for rates, tickets, prepaid special groups (of 20 people or more) and a 2-for-1 lunch pass (for downtown workers) are available at the Vancouver Christmas Market web site at http://vancouverchristmasmarket.com.
New this season is a FREE RE-ENTRY offer. You paid once for admission and you will receive a re-entry pass that allows you to come back anytime you want for the entire season which opens its gates from November 24 to December 24, 2012, 11am-9pm with early closing on Christmas Eve (Dec 24) at 6pm.
The Vancouver Christmas Market is largely an outdoor venue, so dress appropriately. Kaethe Wohlfahrt, Germany’s top Christmas ornament and décor company which sells hundreds of unique and one-of-a-kind Christmas decorative items, is the only shop sheltered inside a building that is part of the QE Theatre complex. Many of the outdoor shops are housed inside wooden huts. Washrooms are exterior temporary toilets (i.e. portable johns.)
No Christmas tree, either real or fake is sold at the market, so don’t come shopping for that and you won’t be disappointed. At the market, you will find many finely-crafted Christmas items on display with everyone seemingly having a story to tell and an old-world tradition beckoning you to find out more.
The VCM is a licensed premise, so alcoholic drinks are available for those who can be proved themselves to be 19 or over. Glühwein and a popular variant, the Feuerzangenbowle with a rum-soaked sugarloaf set on fire and dipped into the wine (usually red) are also served at the market. Adhering to the principle of sustainability to reduce waste, these popular German Christmas beverages are served in recyclable mugs. After your enjoyment, you can return the mug to get your $2 mug deposit back.
However, due to food and liquor licensing, no dogs or other pets are allowed with the exception for guide dogs. The market is also easily wheelchair accessible.
There is a live stage which features live bands, dancers and entertainment by artists and groups from such countries as Bulgaria, the Ukraine, Germany, Estonia and others. The Santa’s Brass Band plays traditional Christmas tunes with a toe-tapping rhythm that sees many visitors dancing with their partner around the stage.
And yes, this is a suggestion for the organizer – The melodies from ‘The Sound of Music’ would seem to fit in the market very well and indeed one would feel ‘the hills are alive’, so perhaps we might see (and hear) some of that in the future? On the other hand, the Vancouver Christmas Market is certainly teeming with life with a constant stream of visitors milling about the merchant stalls on Sunday afternoon Nov 25. Mr Kluetz said he expects to have 160,000 visitors this year. The 2011 attendance was 130,000.
Besides merchandizes from European producers, there are also no shortages of local and fair Trade goods including Fraser Valley honey, products from Ecofair Tarding and Tradewinds, woolen hats and clothing from Namaste National Products etc. And speaking of honey, Germany is the biggest honey-lover in the world, proclaimed one of the honey vendors at the market.
On Remembrance Day (Nov 11, 2012) in Vancouver, the Seaforth Highlander Pipes and Drums Band lead by Pipe Major CWO Mitchell “Mike” Bain, together with the Vancouver Fire & Rescue Services band performed a moving musical tribute at the Cenotaph in Victory Square in downtown Vancouver BC, Canada. Some of the musical compositions played included The Lament, Sands of Kuwait, Maple Leaf Forever, God Saves the Queen, In Flanders Fields and others.
Of those present to place a wreath were BC Premier Christy Clark, Mayor Gregor Robertson, the RCMP, veterans, dignitaries and military personnel. After the official ceremony is over, the public got to lay their poppies on the wreaths. Kids and adults from age 8 to 80 and over all participated.
Lest We Forget.
Sands of Kuwait by Seaforth Highlander
[A Video by Ray Van Eng | www.vancouver21.com ]
After an elaborate military ceremony on Remembrance Day 2012 (Nov 11, 2012) in Vancouver BC, which was not unlike such formalities in past years, a long line of soldiers stepped along downtown Hastings Street as if they were on a Farewell March. This year’s parade which seemed to be the largest-ever assembled of the Canadian regiment, veterans, RCMP, cadets, police, the Red Cross and others, begged the question – Is Canada becoming more militant? Or are we just more patriotic than ever before? Or maybe both?
The crowd cheered loudly and applause enthusiastically as the procession passed by. Are we becoming more like the Americans who are quite ready to have their loved ones sent oversea to fight a war thousands of miles away, especially during times of a threat to their security like after the 911 incident? Is Canada facing the same fate? If yes, are we ready to do the same as the Americans?
Speaking of security, the threat of terrorism that plagued many parts of the world hit home a few days ago when packages of explosive material were discovered at Vancouver’s Skytrain transportation system. Police are still investigating and don’t know if this was a prank or something much more sinister. But the alarm bell has been sounded.
These latest incidents of a bomb scare may just be a wakeup call for Canadians including those in BC which can normally live their lives in peace without much worry of bombers lurking among us. Are we just realizing that we are no longer immune to the concerns for national security and terrorist attacks that have plagued much of the world?
To counter-balance things a little, at the end of the soldiers parade, a few lone individuals including two military personnel with their medals all decked out and some young men in civilian clothes carried a sign that read ‘Let Peace be Their Memorial’. There are no shortage of supporters for this group as well, as the on-lookers cheered and clapped their hands just as boisterously as they did for the men and women in uniform who strolled by just a while before. Are Canadians motivated now but still in conflict within ourselves about sending troops to fight an enemy abroad?
Earlier in the day, a Changing of the Guard ritual took place at the Cenotaph and the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services Band and others played ‘Maple Leaf Forever’, ‘In Flanders Fields’, a bag-pipe performance of ‘The Lament’, ‘God Saves The Queen’ and other tribute music to pay respect to those who gave their lives in the service of Canada during World War Two (WWII), the Iraq War and most recently the Afghan War. A military aircraft fly-pass was also part of the Remembrance Day or Poppy Day programming this year.
REMEMBRANCE DAY 2012 SOLDIERS PARADE [A Video 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 ]