Chan Ka Nin is a distinguished Canadian composer whose extensive repertoire draws on both East and West in its aesthetic outlook. Professor of Theory and Composition at the University of Toronto, he has written in most musical genres and received many national and international prizes, including two JUNO awards, the Jean A. Chalmers Award, the Béla Bartók International Composers’ Competition in Hungary, and the Barlow International Competition in the United States. In 2001 he won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Musical for his opera Iron Road, written with librettist Mark Brownell, depicting the 19th-century construction of the Canadian national railroad by Chinese migrant laborers.
Characteristically luminous in texture and exotic in instrumental colors, Prof. 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.
Many prominent ensembles and soloists have performed his music, including the Toronto Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Calgary Philharmonic, Esprit Orchestra, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Amici Ensemble, Gryphon Trio, Miró Quartet, Purcell Quartet, Amherst Saxophone Quartet, violist Rivka Golani, and cellist Shauna Rolston. His substantial discography includes releases on the CBC, Centrediscs, ATMA, Analekta, Albany, and Summit labels, among others.
Born and raised in Hong Kong, Mr. Chan holds twin undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering and music from the University of British Columbia, where he studied composition with Jean Coulthard. He subsequently received Master of Music and Doctor of Music degrees from Indiana University, where he studied with Bernhard Heiden.