The MusiCounts TD Community Music Program began in 2013 and provides musical instruments and equipment to community organizations in Canada. In 2017, 27 community programs received funding for their music programs (see the full list here!). To celebrate, we will be showcasing a different program each week from provinces across the country. This week, get to know Vancouver, BC’s: BC Youth Chinese Orchestra. We reached out their Artistic Director, Gloria Wong and asked her a few questions about the community music program’s history, the impact of receiving a MusiCounts TD Community Music Program grant, and about the next steps for the organization.
UPDATE April 2018: BC Youth Chinese Orchestra was invited to perform onstage at the 2018 JUNO Awards with JUNO Award nominee, Shawn Hook! Watch video of the performance now:
Q: Can you tell us about the BC Youth Chinese Orchestra?
A: The BC Youth Chinese Orchestra (BCYCO) began in 2001 as one of the first Chinese ensembles for youth in Canada. Since its inception, the orchestra has attracted young music students of all ages and abilities. Through the commitment of students, parents and teachers, many youth stay around for many years as long-time members of our association, moving on to play in the BC Chinese Orchestra. Some have also matured into fine professional musicians who presently perform with such high calibre ensembles as the Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra and the BC Chinese Ensemble. Yet others have gone on to establish community ensembles in their university and college communities.
“The BCYCO is a great place for parents and families to make friends and put down roots in Metro Vancouver.”
Our orchestra is a welcoming place for young beginners as well as those more advanced in their Chinese instrument studies. We often have newly arrived immigrant families who find our ensemble to be a home in their new country. Through their children’s participation in the ensemble, the entire family becomes integrated into the Chinese community at-large. The BCYCO is a great place for parents and families to make friends and put down roots in Metro Vancouver.
Q: Why did you apply for the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program?
A: We applied for this grant because we had instrument needs for the ensemble. We often have students coming who eventually learn secondary instruments and our association will often loan instruments out free of charge. The contribution that the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program has made to our ensemble collection is incalculable. We now have the ability with a new set of timpani to play more contemporary and large-scale arrangements of music, particularly those derived from the classical symphonic traditions.
Q: What is the impact that receiving the grant has had on your students and community?
A: Our students are so pleased to receive this grant. They are thrilled to be able to learn new music with the orchestra that makes full use of the timpani. Needless to say, it’s the percussionists who are the giddiest ones!
“Receiving a grant from MusiCounts sends [the students] the message that their music is valued among society-at-large…”
I think the recognition that has come with receiving the grant has been a huge encouragement for the students also. Because traditional Chinese music is not well known among their friends, sometimes students feel a bit shy about their music-making. When I encourage them to invite friends out to a show, they sometimes say to me, “Oh, my friends wouldn’t really be interested in coming out to hear me play. They don’t know what Chinese music is about and they wouldn’t really be interested. It’s just something I do.” Receiving a grant from MusiCounts sends them the message that their music is valued among society-at-large and it’s a great boost for their confidence. It really fans their love of the music.
Q: What are the next steps for the BCYCO?
A: As artistic director, I think I’m going to be very busy making new arrangements. My students are already getting excited and throwing ideas at me. We’ll definitely be playing a few pieces with timpani at our year-end concert. Also, we have plans to hire a professional percussionist to give our students some lessons on the timpani.
The BC Chinese Youth Orchestra performed a rendition of Michael Buble’s “Nobody But Me” at yesterday’s Vancouver Press Conference for the 2018 JUNO Awards. Thank you, Gloria and all the staff and participants of the BCYCO and BC Chinese Music Association for sharing your story with us.
Interested in learning more about this organization? Follow them on social media and visit their official website: