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Black and white photo of professor Chan Ka Nin in black rimmed glasses and a white suit, posing as a Canadian Composer

About Chan Ka Nin

Chan was born in Hong Kong and moved with his family to Vancouver in 1965. At the University of British Columbia, he studied composition with Jean Coulthard while pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. After graduation he decided to continue studying composition with Bernhard Heiden at Indiana University where he eventually obtained his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in music. Since 1982, he has been teaching theory and composition at the University of Toronto.

His numerous international awards include Béla Bartók International Composers' Competition, Barlow International Competitions, International Horn Society Composition Contest, Jean Chalmers Award, PROCAN Young Composers; Competition and Amherst Saxophone Quartet Composition Competition, as well as two Juno Awards for Best Classical Compositions.

Characteristically luminous in texture and exotic in instrumental colors, Chan’s music has been described by critics as “sensuous,” “haunting,” and “intricate.” The composer often draws his inspiration directly from his personal experiences: for example, the birth of one of his daughters, the death of his father, his spiritual quests, or his connection to nature and concern for the environment.

His recent work, Pikä Talvi, (long winter) was premiered by percussionist Antti Ohenoja and a string quartet in Helsinki in January 2022. “Welcoming Spring” was premiered by Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under Naomi Woo in 2023. His second full length opera Dragon’s Tale premiered in June 2023 during Luminato at Harbourfront in Toronto. In the same year his Flute Concerto: Donas de Fuera for Italian flutist Luisa Sello was premiered by Sinfonia Toronto. She will perform this work in her Italian tour of 8 cities in November 2024. In the same month Chan’s trio: Among Friends will be presented by Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center, New York.

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