Wei Chi Vicky Su is the founder and president of the Alberta Chinese Zither Association. Su is a creative and enthusiastic educator, having begun her Zither teaching career at the age of 19 after her performance at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. She has since earned a Masters of Education degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Calgary and a degree in Chinese Ku Zheng (Chinese Zither) Music from the National Taiwan University of Arts. Su has represented her country on the world stage in Germany, Hungary, Australia, Singapore, Canada, USA, and other countries in promoting Chinese Zither music.
Su began her foray into music in Grade 3, where she first learnt the piano and participated in choir.
“I grew up in those [music] kind of environments. Over the entirety of my life, music has always held a special place in my heart. I would never give anything up about my music. I started playing the Chinese Zither after I learnt the piano. I was really interested in how tied to the culture of China it was. Through it I was able learn more about the history of not just Chinese music but the philosophies, wisdom, and experiences of those time periods.”
Indeed, Su’s teaching reflects her words. Her students learn not only about playing instruments and music theory but of the historical culture and philosophy behind these works of art.
Since moving to Calgary in 1997, Su has participated in many Zither performances, including her debut compositions and events at the University of Calgary. She holds lectures about Chinese traditions and music at a variety of conferences. Her latest performance was held at Bella Concert Hall, When East Meets West, which presented a performance of both eastern and western pieces. The music was played by a band of young musicians hailing from a variety of backgrounds, representing Canada’s multicultural values. The band also was joined by the Turkish Ballet and Orchestra conductor Babur Tongur.
“Music can reflect daily life and in turn speak of its intricacies. In East Meets West, the differences and similarities of these two opposing cultures are interwoven. The auditions required us to have the ability to play both Western and Eastern instruments. In doing so we are able to understand a different “language” in a way. It really touches your soul like a rhythm in your heart.”
For Su, her history and background are always present in her practice and life.
“I really like history. For me, my Chinese background is important and I believe that through the instruments I play, I also communicate cultural wisdoms of the past. When I first started music as a child I only knew how to learn. It was just fun homework. But eventually it became a cornerstone. Through music, I found concentration and patience. This patience and passion carried me through my tumultuous teenage years and into post-secondary where I auditioned to represent my country Taiwan on the world stage.”
“The opportunity to travel the world opened my eyes and gave me new ideas and new experiences from my peers. There is a distinct difference performing on stage as a professional. When the spotlight is on you, you have a chance to share it with the audience. Even in my own educational career this is true. When I teach, I also grow myself. I found I understood better when I shared more.”
Su always tells her students like a mountain sage,
“To just enjoy the music. Talk with it and it will speak back. You have to work hard as there are no shortcuts for music… or life! Don’t worry about the goal and enjoy the journey. Quality not quantity!”
In her daily life, Su enjoys studying the religious and philosophical works of Lao Zi, Chinese literature and poetry, and Cha Dao (The Way of Tea).