Mount Royal Zhi-Yin Choir

2010 Beijing Opera
2016 Mount Royal College

The Calgary Zhi-Yin Choir Society is an Alberta registered non-profit organization founded under its director and conductor Shana Yang in 2004, with the mandate of promoting multiculturalism in Canada through Chinese performing arts and of enriching the appreciation of music to its members and audiences. The Chinese performing arts have a rich history in Chinese culture and daily life. Specifically, dance and its musical accompaniment, through orchestras of instruments and vocalists, were long considered a connection towards the spiritual and religious side of Chinese existence. Even today a variety of troupes still exist in Asia, performing everything from classical Chinese opera to puppetry as well.

The Choir, since its inception, has grown steadily from about a dozen people initially to over seventy members currently.  Members come from various parts of the globe including Canadian born Chinese, and Chinese from mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Cambodia and Malaysia. Yang, herself, is originally a graduate of vocal music and choral conducting from China with over 20 years of experience. (Mount Royal University, pp. 1) It seems appropriate that “Zhi-Yin” translated in English means “friends of music”, which the shared experiences and friendships built through the Choir surely reflect. (Calgary Zhi-Yin Choir, pp. 2)

The Choir is an active part of the Calgary community, engaging in performances at local senior care homes and alongside fundraising efforts for the poor. The Choir is supported by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, which has a mandate for “…encouraging and supporting the arts as a significant contributor to the quality of life in Alberta.” (Alberta Foundation for the Arts, pp. 1) They perform multiple times per year in small venues, such as community centres, to larger ones, such as at the conservatory. Recently, the Choir has raised substantial amounts of money for the Growing Seed Foundation of Vancouver and for the Alberta Children Hospital Foundation. In fact, the group has been invited to perform everywhere from Edmonton to New York.

A major focus of the Choir is bridge-building between Eastern and Western artists. The Choir has performed with various established local art groups such as the Classical Guitar society of Calgary, Cantares Venezuelan Choir, Grace Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir, and the Calgary Youth Choir. This exchange of musical performance allows for each choir and their artists to interact with sounds and experiences that may be unfamiliar to them. The hope is that this dialogue will help build stronger bonds and respect for the rich culture that each artist brings to Calgary.

The Calgary Zhi-Yin Choir is one of the many cultural organizations pushing for an interconnected and dynamic environment between the cultures of Calgary. As a part of the Mount Royal University, they stand at one of the many centres of cultural and intellectual exchange in the city. As such, their uniquely “Chinese” performances are sure to pique the interest of individuals to look at the rich culture and history that is the foundation of their art. The Choir’s next performance is at the Bella Concert Hall for the Sounds of the Season event in December 2017.

Work Cited

Alberta Foundation for the Arts. “About the AFA.” Alberta Foundation for the Arts. 2017. https://www.affta.ab.ca/about-afa

Calgary Zhi-Yin Choir. “About Us.” Calgary Zhi-Yin Choir. 2009. http://www.zhiyinchoir.com/about.php

Mount Royal University. “Calgary Zhi-Yin Choir – Xue Jia (Shana) Yang.” Mount Royal University. 2017. https://www.mtroyal.ca/ProgramsCourses/FacultiesSchoolsCentres/TheConservatory/Programs/CalgaryZhi-YinChoir/SSDATA_CONS_BIO_YANG