A local Taiwanese Canadian music/cultural enthusiast, Cecilia Chueh of Vancouver Formosa Academy, started “Music Night of Taiwanese Composers” aimed at introducing works of Taiwanese composers to the Canadian general public in order to promote mutual understanding between Canada and Taiwan in the field of music. With the famous composer Mr. Tyzen Hsiao as the special guest, the first concert was held at Vancouver Presbyterian Church and attended by an audience of more than 1000. The event thus unveiled a series of events to come.
Vancouver Formosa Academy again organized the Piano Music Festival of Taiwanese Composers at Vancouver Playhouse. The event further introduced Taiwanese composers’ works to the Canadian music community and different ethnic groups in Canada in order to promote mutual understanding by means of the universal language, music. In the same year, Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Society was officially founded in Vancouver.
Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Society joined Vancouver Formosa Academy to present this annual music event, the Chamber Music of Taiwanese Composers. The number of participating Canadian musicians and audiences increased year after year, and the foundation of this music and cultural exchange was thus firmly set.
The name of this event was officially changed to “Music Festival of Taiwanese Composers,” and the scale of the event was expanded to include members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Professor Tsang-Houei Hsu also gave a speech, “Music in Taiwan: Its Tradition and Transformation,” at University of British Columbia.
In order to introduce more Taiwanese culture to the Canadian public, a simple music performance was developed to a festival of various kinds of cultural and art activities. Held in Hotel Vancouver, this year’s programs included photo exhibits, lectures, cultural seminars, and three fantastic concerts: Concert of the Teachers’ Chorus of Taipei City, Dramatic Tenor William Wu’s Recital, and the Music Festival of Taiwanese Composers performed by the entire VSO and scores of other musicians. The diversity and variety of the programs makes the Music Festival of Taiwanese Composers a great success.
In order to more accurately reflect what was intended, the festival was renamed to “Taiwanese Cultural Festival.” With its focus on Taiwanese aboriginal culture, the programs included A Music Tribute to Lu Chuan-Sheng, Video Presentations, Cultural Seminars, and the 1995 Music Festival of Taiwanese Composers. The famous Taiwanese composer Tai-Hsiang Lee was the special guest this year. More than 5000 people were attracted to the festival. Also, the festival was included as a part of Richmond’s Gateway Theatre’s 10th anniversary celebration.
The entire Vancouver Symphony Orchestra joined the well-known Taiwanese violinist Cho-Liang Lin, and flutist Chen Chung-Sheng in Orpheum Theatre to present two concerts, “Salutes to Taiwan,” both of which ended with a bang. At the same time, the Exhibit of the Taiwanese Delicateness, A Talk on Taiwanese Folk Songs, and Taiwanese Folk Songs Karaoke Contest were held at Robson Square.
The 1997 Taiwanese Cultural Festival was designated as part of the official program of Canada’s Year of Asia Pacific. The Lan-Yang Taiwanese Opera and the Yin Qi Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Gordon Chin overwhelmed the Taiwanese community and other ethnic groups. Together with an exhibition of Taiwanese Canadian Artists, and Taiwanese Canadian Young People’s Talent Show, both held in the Asian Centre in UBC, the festival attracted about 5000 people.
Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Society alone organized the festival, in which Hakka culture was introduced to the Canadian public for the first time in order to show that Taiwan indeed is also a multicultural society. Other programs included exhibitions of pottery art from Ying-Ko, Taiwan, which generated lots of enthusiasm. Later that year, the 1998 Taiwanese Cultural Festival was nominated for a star award in the category of Best Cultural Event by the Second Annual Canadian Event Industry Award. More than 5,000 participants were attracted to the various performances and exhibits.
The diversity of Taiwanese culture could be perceived by the various programs of this year’s festival. The Taiwanese Tea Ceremony, Vegetable & Fruit Carving, Taiwanese Aboriginal Folk Arts, Photographic Arts by Dr. C.H. Lin, and an Exhibition by North America Taiwanese Women’s Association again attracted crowds of people gathering at Robson Square. The festival culminated in the “Concert by Egret Ladies and Girls Choirs” and the “Music Taiwan Concert” by three music professors from Taiwan.
“From Caterpillar to Butterfly” was the theme of the 2000 festival. The metamorphosis of Taiwan from a poor country relying on foreign aid to one that gives a helping hand is like that of a butterfly transforming from an ugly caterpillar to a brilliantly-coloured and beautiful butterfly. This year demonstrated the transformation of Taiwan through photo exhibitions and performances.
The traditional Taiwanese theatre is an open theatre. The public is free to come and go as they please. It is not uncommon for viewers to partake in a little shopping or to go for a bite at any point during a show. Various folk handicrafts, toys, and food stalls can all be seen on temple grounds.
The festival continued the success achieved in the previous year and attracted another record crowd of 30,000. Outstanding programming was cited as one of the best aspects of the festival. Publicity of the festival also reached another milestone with millions of audiences reached throughout North America and Asia. The Festival was nominated for “Best Cultural Event”, “Best Public Entertainment Event”, “Most Outstanding Event Over $300,000″ and “Best Festival” by Canadian Event Industry Award.
Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell calls Taiwanese Cultural Festival, a hallmark of the city. The festival, after another record attendance of 35,000, was once again nominated for Best Cultural Event and Best Festival for CEIA’s Star Awards. The festival further expanded the programming by adding an indoor music gallery featuring contemporary elements of the modern culture. In addition to the indoor programming, the Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race with it’s unique style of boats and rules made the first appearance in Canada via the festival.
2004 brought contemporary Taiwan to Canada under the theme of “Unleashed!” Festival attendance soared to an impressive 50,000 visitors. With the introduction of the popular figurative lanterns, tasty culinary demonstration “What’s Cooking,” in addition to the usual line-up of spectacular shows and activities, the Taiwanese Cultural Festival was awarded the CEIA’s Best Cultural Event award for the 4th consecutive year. The Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race was formally christened the Vancouver International Taiwanese Dragon Boat Race and continued to be a popular event.
Taiwanese Cultural Festival received the CEIA Best Cultural Event Award for the 5th straight year. With the addition of the Digital Culture Exhibition of Taiwan, the festival further expanded the horizon. However, the most sought-after exhibition among the 60,000 attendees was the Barbie & Me exhibition, the story about how the world’s most popular doll changed the lives of many in a little town in Taiwan.
2006 was a major milestone for Taiwanese Cultural Festival as the festival expanded to Toronto and co-produced the event with the renowned Harbourfront Centre for the first time. While the Vancouver event set another attendance record of 70,000, the Toronto debut successfully brought in 45,000. Under the theme “Ho-Hai-Yan Taiwan”, Taiwanese Cultural Festival was awarded the 6th consecutive Best Cultural Event award.
Innovation is critical for events depending on continuing success. TaiwanFest elevated the quality of the festival programming by incorporating two live concerts. One of which, Mayday, the premier Rock band in Taiwan, made their Canadian debut at the festival. Another example of innovation was the use of the “Noodles of the World” concept to expand the festival to include various communities in Canada. Over 4,000 bowls of Championship Noodles were served during the three-day festival in Vancouver. The two festivals in Toronto and Vancouver exceeded 110,000 in combined attendance, making the festival one of the largest Mandarin/English cultural events in Canada.
Inspired by the multi-cultural aspects of Canada, the programming of 2008 TELUS TaiwanFest : World in an Island explored Taiwan’s ever-evolving identity through its many influences in history, such as the Dutch, Japanese, Canadian and Aboriginal, and how these influences have contributed to the development of the island. The festival showcased multifaceted and vibrant culture with the debut of King of Rock Wu Bai from Taiwan. Cultural exchanges were made between the legendary artists in water-Colours of Doris McCarthy (Canada) and K.J. Shen (Taiwan). For 2008, attendance met a new milestone of 140,000 across both Vancouver and Toronto.
“A New Journey” was the theme for 2009 TELUS TAIWANfest. This 20-year-old festival not only celebrated the milestone with the “wedding-inspired” theme, it also took on a new vision that expanded the artistic mandate, engaged diverse communities and committed to the environment for the festival’s present and the future. As the largest English/Mandarin bilingual festival in Canada with over 100,000 attendees in two cities, TELUS TAIWANfest prided itself on three initiatives for 2009,demonstrating leadership for festivals in the area of Social Responsibilities.
When Vancouver entered the Year 2010,the whole world set sights on Canada; when City of Vancouver challenged TAIWANfest to carry the torch of celebrations from the Winter Olympics, the Taiwanese Community in Vancouver answered the call. Ironically, it is the same old dream that most of us all have – a dream to show and share the best of what we have. It is not the City of Vancouver or Toronto, the Province of BC or Ontario, or the True North Nation of Canada or Island Nation of Taiwan that was battling for the bragging rights; rather, it was the opportunity to shine that inspired us all.
Dreaming for the next big opportunity shall never stop. And, so long as the dream lives on in all of us, new chapters will continue to bring joy and warmth to the world. While Vancouver 2010 and TAIWANfest 2010 showed the world new perspectives, the dream to think big is still the same old key.
As an immigrant nation, Canada prides itself on values of diversity and benefits from our country’s cultural harmony. Taiwan, an island nation, has its share of stereotypes due to the complexity of its history. A hot spot of energy and connectivity, the influxes of various cultures have not only impacted the formation of the new culture, but have also become the foundation of new expressions in arts. The conflicts and chaos between preserving and abandoning the traditions have given the innovative minds from Taiwan nutrients to excel and motivations to succeed. It’s time for the world to see Taiwan with an open mind – a cultural phenomenon – Taiwan Rising.
The total attendance for 2011 for both Vancouver and Toronto is 200,000.
Culture is the acronym for the lifestyles in a civilization; it is beyond just stories of the past and the customs of the ancestors. The wisdom found beneath a culture truly embodies the foundation of the future and constantly steers the formation of a new culture. While earth’s global ocean is the largest confirmed surface on all observable planets, only so little was ever explored by human. Furthermore, the ocean is an integral part of all known life and influences our climate and weather patterns. Connecting continents and civilizations, the ocean symbolizes diversity, inclusiveness, and infinity and may hold the secret to advancing humanity. Can Taiwan, an island nation where people are constantly battling with national identity, learn from her rich historical past and envision her future with inspiration from the ocean?
TAIWANfest celebrated its 25th Anniversary in Vancouver. The festival used the flower Myosotis, a non-Taiwan native plant, to show the foreign influences on the island and to set the stage for a vibrant, colourful and ever-evolving culture today. Like Myosotis, Taiwan may be insignificant in the eyes of the world’s giants; Taiwan is also reminiscent of many little stories with big aspirations around the world. Everyone of us matters as we always leave footprints in our paths, past, present or future. We are our own legacies and we dare the world to Forget Me Not!
What would be different for you today had some long distant ancestor made a different decision? What will be the impact on future generations of the choices you make today? In 2015 TAIWANfest explored this complex idea, reminding us all that even inaction will cause ripples across the fabric of time and space. History – whether Taiwan’s or any other nation’s – is built upon the work of those who came before us. We will all leave something behind for those who come after us – let’s try and make that something a Torch of Hope!
TAIWANfest echoed Canada’s diverse values in 2016, launching the Dialogues with Asia series: a five year plan to feature a different Asian culture each year. Through various artistic and intercultural exchange, each year is an opportunity for a new community to self determine and self express their connections to Taiwan, Canada, and the world. Against the backdrop of two of Canada’s most vibrant downtown environments, develop an even deeper respect and appreciation for the diversity we are all so proud of!
In even the Chinese-speaking world, Taiwan and Hong Kong share an incredible amount of cultural, economic, and even political history – understandable given their proximity and shared roots. Yet each has walked along a very different path to arrive at where they are today, having sacrificed neither their heritage nor identity. Reflecting on their roots and carving a new path for their peoples, pursuing the strength that is found in freedom, the 2016 TAIWANfest: A Cultural Tango with Hong Kong uses “Redefining our Roots” as the Artistic Direction. Roots are not just about our past; they could be the start of a new society, the beginning of a dream, or the inception of something deemed impossible. Experience the progress of Hong Kong and Taiwan, two cultural leaders in crafting the evolution and creation of a more inclusive cultural awareness.
The festive staple of toasting is ubiquitous and nearly every culture has its own variation on this gesture of goodwill. Whether it is the French “Santé”, German “Prost”, Scandinavian “Skål” or others, toasting and merrymaking go hand in hand.
But at that split second when the glasses clink, a solitary sound amidst the festivities, one moment is suspended in the air. It could be simple and it could be complex; it could be a tribute to the past or a dream for the future. It could be a hope, a desire, a wish shared by all who are present. It is a moment of inspiration.
Yet what are the influences that drive us to the toast? For what reason do we seek this unity, this inclusion in the collective? What is that something we strive for, so obviously bigger and better and grander than any one of us could achieve alone?
“Kanpai, Japan!” is an exploration of these influences, connecting the island nations of Japan and Taiwan, and again with Canada. Join us for a collective Kanpai!