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Kungfu, Class and Confucianism: Cantonese Opera of the Chinese Freemasons of Canada

Feb 27, 2014, 4:30pm

The Graduate Program in Music presents Kungfu, Class and Confucianism: Cantonese Opera of the Chinese Freemasons of Canada, the Lise Waxer Memorial Lecture with Dr. Kim Chow-Morris, Thursda February 27, beginning at 4:30 pm in 237 Accolade East.

Kungfu, Class and Confucianism: Cantonese Opera of the Chinese Freemasons of Canada
Canada's Chinese Freemasons were founded on Victoria Island in the mid-1800s to protect working-class Chinese sojourners from frequent race-directed violence, inter-cultural intrigue, and economic destitution. To this end, club members both past and present trained diligently in kungfu martial arts, and upheld strict Confucian-influenced laws that still govern their transnational brotherhood today.

The Chinese Freemasons were tenacious, too, in their active support of Sun Yat Sen's rebellion against the Qing dynasty of imperial China and worked doggedly, under the ever-watchful eye of the pro-Qing Canadian and Chinese governments of the day, to fund and support the overthrow of the ethnically-Manchu Empress Dowager. Yet from the earliest days of Chinese migration to Canada, the Freemasons were moved to balance the wu (martial) aspect of their brotherhood with wen (peaceful) entertainment.

As a result, every Chinese Freemason club across Canada supported a Cantonese opera troupe that met in the Freemason headquarters. Based on longstanding participant-observation in the Cantonese opera clubs, individual and group interviews in cities from Victoria to Montreal, score study, video analysis, newly-available archival analysis, and over twenty years of performance in Canadian-Chinese musical circles.

Dr. Chow-Morris will elucidate the connections between social class, Confucianism and the Chinese concept of guanxi intersubjectivity in the tenacious Chinese Freemason opera clubs that have existed in networks across Canada since before the founding of the nationtrumpeter and arranger and makes appearances as a clinician at music workshops and festivals throughout North America.

Dr. Kim Chow-Morris
Dr. Kim Chow-Morris has taught music performance, history and theory for the University of Toronto and York University, and is a tenured Associate Professor of music at Ryerson University. Her research interests include music and spirituality, theories of disjuncture, inter-subjectivity, bird song, social and stylistic hybridity in Chinese instrumental music (Jiangnan sizhu, folk traditions, Chinese guoyue orchestras, Cantonese opera, guqin), and Chinese music in diaspora.

Dr. Chow-Morris’ peer-reviewed academic publications range from topics such as Taoist influence on Eastern China’s Jiangnan sizhu ensemble music, to contemporary conceptions of socio-musical hybridity in Montreal’s Chinese community, to compositional intersections of music and architecture. Most recently, she is completing a SSHRC-funded monograph on the historiography of Chinese music in Canada from the earliest days of Chinese immigration to the present.

Dr. Chow-Morris has performed on western flute and Chinese winds (dizi, xiao, bawu, and hulusi) in China, Hong Kong, India, Canada, and the United States. Chow-Morris played for ten years with the Toronto Chinese Orchestra, and led the professional Chinese chamber group the Yellow River Ensemble for over a decade. She enjoys finding creative resonances with musicians across the globe. Her primary instrumental teachers include western flautists Douglas Stewart and Anne Emond, and Chinese Shanghainese bamboo flute masters Lu Chun Ling and the late Master Yu Xun Fa. She has directed York University’s Chinese orchestras since 2000.

Dr. Chow-Morris’ CDs, soundtrack recordings, and live performances have been broadcast internationally on CBC Radio, China’s CCTV, History Television, Omni TV, and Fairchild Radio, among others. She has performed for Canada’s former Prime Minister Jean Chretien and China’s Premier Wen Jiabao, and her dizi (bamboo flute) playing has travelled into space with astronaut Steve MacLean as part of David Mott’s piano concerto Eclipse.

Dr. Chow-Morris has served the academic community over many years and has been a member of numerous scholarly prize committees for ACMR and SEM Niagara Chapter. Dr. Chow-Morris was the central author and creator of Ryerson’s Chang School for Continuing Education’s Certificate in Music: Global and Cultural Contexts, and has created twelve new music courses.

Lise Waxer
University of Toronto (BMus)
York University (MA)
University of Illinois (PhD)
Lise Waxer was in grade 10 when she first informed her family that she wished to become an ethnomusicologist. Possessed of a fierce intelligence, indomitable curiosity, unbelievable energy and a larger-than-life personality, she went on to live out the life of her early dreams.

Lise studied ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto (BMus), York University (MA) and the University of Illinois (PhD). She was involved in producing and hosting one of Toronto’s first world music radio programs on CIUT-FM, and conducted fieldwork on salsa music in Cali, Colombia. Her passion for ethnomusicology led her to write two books: Situating Salsa: Global Markets and Local Meanings in Latin American Popular Music (Routledge, 2002), and the City of Musical Memory: Salsa, Record Grooves, and Popular Culture in Cali, Colombia (Wesleyan University Press, 2002).

After completing her doctorate, Lise accepted a teaching position in the music department at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut. There, she was not only an inspiration to her students, but also actively worked to forge links between the university and the city’s Hispanic community. She formed a student ensemble, Salsafication, and was the driving force behind Ritmo de Pueblo, a cultural event that brought Hartford’s Hispanic community and the University together.

As a teacher, researcher, piano player, band leader and human being, Lise helped to make this word a better place to live in. Her spirit lives on through her work and in the hearts and minds of those who were fortunate enough to have known her.


Location:237 Accolade East
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