Connecting Hong Kong and Canada through Music

Prof Chang Wing-wa

The earliest Canadian groups in Hong Kong are perhaps the missionaries in the early 20th century bringing in hymns from Canada. One notable figure is Rev. John Livingstone Macpherson who served in Hong Kong during 1905-1935 and established the European YMCA and the Chinese YMCA. The other group could be the close to 2,000 members of the Winnipeg Grenadiers and the Royal Rifles of Canada. They arrived Hong Kong six weeks before the fighting period of 8-25 December, 1941 to defend the colony during the World War II. These soldiers must have let Canadian folk songs of various origin sound through Hong Kong.


Canadian and Canada-trained musicians continue to influence Hong Kong’s music culture. The current Concert Master of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra and several professors of music in Hong Kong universities come from Canada. Cantopop singers who are Canadian include Nicholas Tse, Charlene Tsoi Tsoek-jin of Twins, Sally Yeh, Susanna Kwan Kuk-ying, Joyce Cheng Yan-yee, and Jade Kwan Sum-yin. Lan Kwai Fong, the quintessential nightlife district in Hong Kong with plenty of music and entertainment, was redeveloped by Montreal-raised Canadian Allan Zemen.