Recently, I made a new friend from Japan through social media. She teaches erhu in Shizuoka. We were discussing music composition and the development of erhu music outside of China. This is a topic close to my heart. I was born and raised in Toronto and found my cultural connection through Chinese music. I immersed myself in traditional and contemporary works from Asia.
Along this journey, I wondered – what about my Canadian experience? I am a visible minority here in Canada, so there was always the assumption that I was from somewhere else – I must be a foreigner. Among the Chinese immigrants, I was born in Canada, so I must be ignorant about the language, culture, and music – I am not Chinese enough. This feeling of not belonging affected me deeply, but has also opened a new direction to explore for me.
In Canada, there are many cultures, but also many different experiences that have shaped each of us. New immigrant, or someone who’s family has been here many generations – Canada is our home and we all have our own unique stories to share. As artists, how do we respond? We can choose to hold on tightly to our cultural roots, or we can establish new growth here based on those roots – by continuously learning and giving voice to our Canadian experiences. We have so much to learn from each other!
My identity as being a part of the Asian diaspora in Canada compels me to search for and create music that expresses this life journey: these are the songs of my heart.