"The Yellow River" at Niagara Falls
- A Celebration of Two Friendly Nations

Edward Chan '75

It has been a long time since I last attended a Classical Music Concert, the kind with a large orchestra that any St. Markan who has studied under Ms. Edith Wu would know about.

Well, this long void was filled on Sunday, October 9, 2005, when my wife and I were among the audience at a concert at Niagara Falls, Ontario.

On the stage was the Symphony Orchestra of the China Broadcasting Performing Arts Troupe, a large national musical performing arts organization that was established in 1949. The concert, dubbed "Sound of China", was to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of diplomatic relations between Canada and China.

The concert did not take place in a music hall. Far from it. With free admission, it was held outdoors at the Oakes Garden Theatre - actually an open theatre set in a garden - against the backdrop of the spectacular Niagara Falls. The atmosphere was casual. People in the audience were either sitting or standing on the lawn - a stark contrast to the black ties and gowns we usually see on such occasions. Despite the slightly chilly and overcast weather, the place was packed with people, mainly Chinese, all glad to be having this rare opportunity to enjoy a day out.

Standing behind the control consoles was fellow St. Markan, Tom Ng. He was the producer of the concert. Also in the audience were Lana Hsu and Mabel She, together with their friends and family.

The concert officially started in mid-afternoon, following the national anthems and speeches by various dignitaries, including the Chinese Ambassador and Consul General, the local city mayor, the organizer of The Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto, and the sponsors of China Unicom and China Record Corporation. As for the music, it was indeed wonderful. Skillfully performed by the orchestra, the musical pieces were all masterworks by Chinese composers, with characteristic themes about China. Of particular interest to me was a concerto featuring my favourite Chinese musical instrument, "Pipa". The singers, who performed so well without the acoustics of a music hall, were also magnificent.

Of course, no concert of this kind would be complete without a performance of the famous "The Yellow River" Piano Concerto. Listening to this Chinese concerto, while looking at the mighty Niagara Falls in the background, I was deeply moved, as every Chinese person there must have been - contemplating the past and the present, ancient and modern, then and now. That was a unique and sublime experience that I will never forget.

Did I give a standing ovation to the marvelous performances? Sure. Like many in the audience, I kept standing all the time during the concert!