As we begin our another year, I’d like to reflect upon TCO’s direction and share what my hopes are for our orchestra. As your new Music Director, many of you may be wondering what will be different? What will change?
In the last couple of years, we have worked hard to grow our orchestra, as well as fill the needs of the community, our youth, and professional musicians. Our mission continues to be one of outreach, sharing our music and culture, but I would also like to see more development. What makes us different from all of the other Chinese orchestras in Ontario? We play traditional works from Asia as they do, but we also explore our Canadian identity.
My encounters with musicians and composers in Asia have been very enlightening. Many of them have been so supportive – they see all the challenges that we have as an overseas Chinese orchestra and they have been generous with their assistance (with scores, advice, and time). I see Singaporean, Taiwanese, and Hong Kong composers writing for the Chinese orchestra, so why not Canadians? It has been through these exchanges that I started to feel like we have to do something. We need to have a voice as well. As TCO reaches its 25th year in Canada, I feel that it is time we encourage new compositions to be written for the Chinese orchestra. I have been bringing scores back from Asia for over 10 years now. While there are some wonderful new repertoire, many are not suitable for us, whether it be due to our size or our skill level. Why not have works written here for us? With the world becoming more connected, there is a growing interest in music from other cultures. Composers are excited about exploring and creating works using traditional instruments and we are in a position to share and to encourage this development.
As one of the few Chinese orchestras in Canada, there is also a need to connect and network with each other as we all face similar issues. BC Chinese Music Association initiated the first national Chinese Traditional Instrumental Music Development in Canada conference in May 2017, where we were able to share our challenges and successes. Orchestra leaders from Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto attended, and Dr. Chih-Sheng Chen led the discussion.
In order to grow and thrive, I hope that we can be open to trying and learning new things. I also want to hear your ideas and suggestions! This is so very important. As an organization, I am pleased to see how many of you have contributed your time and energy to build TCO. We still have many things to improve, and we are bound to stumble along the way, but if we focus on our mission, we can accomplish so much more as a team. I hope that you will always feel proud to be part of the TCO family.
The next 25 years promise to be an exciting time for TCO. There is much work to be done, but the rewards will most definitely be worth it—we only need to dream of what could be, and reach out to try.