TAIWANfest Letterhead - Concert
TAIWANfest Letterhead - Concert

The Island and the Maple Leaf

Harmonia & Chin-Ai String Orchestra

Harmonia &
Chin-Ai String Orchestra

Originally Aired on Oct 3rd 8:00 pm (PT)

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TAIWANfest presents its annual Symphony Concert virtually through “The Island and the Maple Leaf”. Inspired by the Taiwanese people’s aspirations for joy across the world and the Canadian people’s pursuit to leave a legacy for the future, let the music uplift spirits around us. 

“The Island and the Maple Leaf” is making its digital premiere with moving performances by an orchestra in Vancouver and one in Taiwan. Led by Nicholas Urquhart from Harmonia in Vancouver, the musicians themselves will also engage in musical dialogue and conversation throughout the event and share what music means to them, especially during these times. Harmonia will be joined by the young musicians of Chin-Ai Music, the first and only Indigenous string orchestra in Taiwan. Using music to heal the soul, it is an enlightening event that transcends cultural, linguistic, and geographical barriers, bridging together people of different cultures and backgrounds to remind us of the good that can be made when we all come together.

Tune into the TAIWANfest YouTube and Facebook pages on October 3rd for the live event!

Symphony Programme


“The Alishan” comes from the “Amis Moonlight Appreciation Dance”, a Taiwanese Indigenous folk song with a simple, melodic and powerful rhythm.

COMPOSER: Edvard Grieg

Originally written for the piano, Edvarg Greig adapted his suite “From Holberg’s Time” for the orchestra in dedication to the 200th birthday of one of Norway’s greatest writers, Ludvig Holberg.

COMPOSER: Qin-Guang Wu
ARRANGER: Bukut Tasvaluan

This song is a modern ballad composed by Qin-Guang Wu, an ethnic Bunun, and arranged by Principal Bukut Tasvaluan of the acoustic choir. 

In the documentary “Beyond Beauty – TAIWAN FROM ABOVE” directed by Po-lin Chi, the Bunun children in the choir hold up the national flag on Mount Jade while singing the Clapping song, presenting the meaning of singing together.

COMPOSER: Carl Philippe Emanuel Bach

Sinfonia in G is a part of a thirty-piece collection of Inventions and Sinfonias, written by Bach for his music students as exercise pieces for the keyboard. Bach was well known to be a thoughtful, sincere, and encouraging instructor to his pupils.

ARRANGER: Suana Emuy Cilangasay

The composer of the original song, John Chou lived in Vancouver for 18 years. After returning to Taiwan, he still missed the beautiful Vancouver very much so he wrote this song and also composed a poem dedicated to the beautiful scenery of Vancouver, describing the maple red and sunset in autumn. The beauty of the rocky mountains, the salmon and the black bears praise this paradise on earth! 

This time, Suana, a native Taiwanese singer-songwriter who participated in a musical dialogue with Canadian musicians last year, was commissioned to assist in arranging the symphony score, adding another special story between Taiwan and Vancouver in this piece.

COMPOSER: Antonin Dvorak

Composed in just 2 weeks in May 1875, the Serenade for Strings remains one of Dvorak’s more popular works. This piece was composed during happier times in his life; his first son was born, and for the first time, he was being recognized as a composer and without fear of poverty. The piece premiered in Prague on December 10, 1876 with Adolf Čech.

ARRANGER: Harry Somers

Appointed to Canada’s highest civilian honour, Companion of the Order of Canada, Harry Somers was arguably one of Canada’s greatest composers of the twentieth century. A founding member of the Canadian League of Composers, his music has been the subject of scholarly attention. His influence continues to be felt worldwide through his musical legacy in choir, voice, orchestra, instrumental ensemble, piano, stage, film, and television.

COMPOSER: Yu-Hsien Teng 

A classic song that is still loved by the Taiwanese people. It was written by “The father of Taiwanese folk songs” Deng Yuxian in the early 1930s. The beautiful melody created using the traditional pentatonic scale is also regarded as a distinctive “Taiwan tune”. The original song describes a young girl who accidentally meets a man, but cannot show her love for him. This song expresses the feelings of the young girl.

COMPOSER: Jean Sibelius

One of Sibelius’s signature pieces, Valse triste (Sad Waltz) was originally part of the incidental music composed for his brother-in-law Arvid Jarnefelt’s 1903 play Kuolema (Death). In 1904, he revised the piece which was later performed in Helsinki on April 25 and it became an instant hit with the public.


This is a story of a young girl who went to the stream to watch fish; it is a Hakka folk song that is widely circulated in Taiwan. In the ancient agricultural society, when the Hakka people went to the mountains to pick tea or chop wood, everyone would sing a folk song to express their feelings. The lyrics were mostly based on topics such as tea, mountains, and love.

COMPOSER: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Composed in 1880, Waltz is the 2nd of 4 movements from Serenade for Strings. It was written with an ear towards one of his idols, Mozart.

COMPOSER: George Walker

George Walker was the first African American to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his work “Lilacs” in 1996. In 1946, Walker composed his String Quartet no. 1. Originally titled “Lament”, Walker later changed the title to “Lyric for Strings”. His body of work includes over 90 pieces for orchestra, chamber orchestra, piano, strings, voice, organ, clarinet, guitar, brass, woodwinds, and chorus.

COMPOSER: William Grant Still

Composed in 1948, Cumbia y congo is the last movement from Danzas de Panama. The piece is based on a collection of Panamanian folk tunes collected by Elizabeth Waldo in the 1920s. William Grant Still was an African-American composer known for his orchestral works but also wrote for radio and television. He was to study medicine but ended up studying composition at the New England Conservatory.

SOLO VIOLA: Kumu Suyan
SOLO CELLO: Away Pawan、Tadaw Sapu

Each tribe in Taiwan has their own language and culture, and their music is unique as well, passed down orally by their elders. This piece is inspired by two traditional Pingpu melodies, one for prayer and the other for ritual. The melody is composed with the original melody in mind, integrating orchestral music and rhythms from around the world.

SOLO CELLO: Tadaw Sapu

“The Alishan” comes from the “Amis Moonlight Appreciation Dance”,a Taiwanese Indigenous folk song with a simple, melodic and powerful rhythm.

Symphony Concert Musicians

Canada – Harmonia

Nicholas Urquhart

Dominic Woo, Concertmaster 
Christina Wolf, Asst. Concertmaster 
Hyeyoun Lee / Vincenzo Lormetti / Tom Su / David Clark

Man Lin Gao, Principal
Nancy Smith / Charles Young / Ray Kang / Harry Lam / Deely Greenlaw

Jackie Hu, Principal
Tony Lee / Genevieve MacKay / Mark Jackson

Minnie Yang, Principal
Heywoun Hyun / Chris Greenlaw / Tara Rajah

Daniel Camargo


No Temu / Temu Bawan / Wadan Pawan / Temu Boya / Wadan Pawan / Mahun Pawan 

Udaw Ruji / Walis Yawi / Piho Wadan / Piyu Temu / Akin Kagi 

Kumu Suyan / Yabung Piyu / Temi Temu / Lawa Temu / Pawan Boya / Pawan Temu 

Away Pawan / Tadaw Sapu / Temi / Kumuy Temu / Lawa Yumin 

Luby Yumin / Uma Yubu / Sige Walis / Lawa Wadan



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