Ka Nin Chan


Twice winner of the Juno Award for Best Classical Composition, Chan Ka Nin’s works have been performed by ensembles and artists such as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Orchestra, CBC Vancouver Orchestra, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, Esprit Orchestra, Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra London Canada, Symphony Nova Scotia, Amici, Mirò Quartet, Purcell Quartet, Rivka Golani and Lawrence Cherney. His numerous international awards include the Béla Bartók International Composers’ Competition, Barlow International Competition, International Horn Society Composition Contest, Jean Chalmers Award, PROCAN Young Composers’ Competition, and Amherst Saxophone Quartet Composition Competition.

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.

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. In 2001, his opera Iron Road, written with librettist Mark Brownell, won the Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding New Musical. In 2002, his chamber work Par- çi, par-là, which was recorded by Ensemble Contemporain du Montréal, won the Juno Award for Best classical composition.

In 2017, The Toronto Symphony Orchestra recorded the composer’s My Most Beautiful, Wonderful, Terrific, Amazing, Fantastic, Magnificent Homeland on their CD Canada Mosaic SESQUIES. In 2018, The Dragon’s Tale was awarded the Kathleen McMorrow Award, which recognizes the presentation of contemporary classical music by Ontario composers. His new composition Viral, for four acoustic guitars and six electric guitars, has been accepted for inclusion at The 21st Century Guitar in Lisbon, Portugal in 2021. In the same year, his Moods of Couchiching will be premiered by the AsianArt Ensemble in Berlin, Germany.

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