Local conductor won’t stop challenging

Local conductor Andrew Chung says he’ll continue to explore new types of music to maximize the further potential of his members.

That would be the way to appreciate music, he says.

“You cannot sing only a one type of music all the time,” Chun says. “It is too narrow and unhealthy.”

Andrew Chung conducts the Chinese Canadian
Choir of Toronto at its 25th Anniversary Gala
Concert on Nov. 8 at the P.C. Ho Theatre.

Chung, 39, has been a conductor of the Chinese Canadian Choir of Toronto since 2005, as well as of the Scarborough Concert Band. He was also a conductor of the Scarborough Choralaires Choir until this year.

His early passion for music started with the trumpet when he was 12 in Hong Kong. When he immigrated to Canada in 1991, he had the chance to meet a professor in the University of Toronto who encouraged him to conducting.

This was the turning point in his musical life and eventually he went on to be a conductor professionally.

Chung said the role of conductor is like being a captain of a ship. He said he has to know how to organize the music and how to empower the members to play beyond their potential and expectation.

“Conducting is organization of music and a group,” Chung said. “You have to know all parts of music.

“If something is not right, you need to be able to tell what mistakes they made. You should also get members on a high stream and motivate them all the time.”

Over the years, he had conducted various types of community choirs, orchestras and bands. As a Scarborough resident for 18 years, Chung says “I am pleased about being able to conduct community-based groups. Scarborough is like my hometown.”

The CCCT performed its 25th Anniversary Gala Concert on Nov. 8 at the P.C. Ho Theatre located at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto along with Songbird Women Chorus and Toronto Cantata Chorus, directed by former CCCT conductors.

Chung said he’s very proud of what previous conductors had accomplished.

“The history we’ve performed for past quarter-century is quite special,” he said. “It is because there was a huge demand not just from local singers who want to get together to perform but from the local audience who want to see our concert.”

What the CCCT could contribute to the community, Chung said, is to widen the type of music performed from contemporary to classical music. He said he does not want to label the choir as an ethnic choir.

“In the whole world there are many types of choral music which has not been explored,” he said. “Before I came to the CCCT, however, 70 per cent of songs were Chinese music.

“So I decided to embrace whatever music worth learning and worth singing.”

His continual devotion to the music won’t stop, Chung says. “Music is something I’ve lived for. It’s not just a job. Without music, I don’t know what to do. Like breathing, you cannot stop it.”

Daniel Eng, a president of the CCCT who has been a member of the choir for 24 years, said the choir participates in the Multicultural Concert and Overseas Chinese Choirs Festival every year.

In addition, Eng said, they also perform at senior care homes.

“After we got a new conductor, we started to try different types of songs in different languages like in French, German, Latin and/or Italian,” Eng said.

“It’s hard to learn how to pronounce it and put it into the music, but as a result we could entertain not just the Chinese but a wider range of audience. So it’s worth learning.”