New conductor debuts at Chamber Choir spring performance

Langley, B.C—It’s not everyday that a pipe organ is included in a musical performance, and watching a conductor lead a full choir from the organ’s seat is even more unique. But Taiwan-born conductor and organist Ay-Lang Wang has never followed the well-beaten path. Since learning piano at the age of four, she’s been a freelance artist for CBC radio and television and performed at the Orpheum with the Vancouver Symphony orchestra (VSO), at the Vatican with the Taipei Christian Children’s chorus, and at the Taiwan national Concert hall. The TWU music professor recently stepped into the role as guest conductor of Trinity Western University’s critically acclaimed Chamber and Concert Choir while conductor Wes Janzen is on sabbatical.

The public is invited to experience Wang’s premier conducting engagement with the TWU Choirs on Sunday, March 21, at Willingdon church in Vancouver. Though her first time publicly leading the students, Wang will be in her element as she is also the former conductor of the largest Taiwanese choir in Vancouver and organist for Vancouver’s First Baptist Church.

“I’m very honoured to be able to take Wes’s sabbatical,” says Wang, who resides in Burnaby. “It’s a privilege to conduct such an established and professional choir.” The choir will perform a number of songs including, “Freedom Trilogy,” “I can go to God in Prayer,” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

“The concert is a great opportunity for both students and the public,” says Wang. “Students get to have a lot of fun working with expert performers, and audiences get to enjoy a first rate choir and go home feeling energized.”

These expert musicians will take centre stage during the second half of the concert. Gospel soloist Crystal Hicks will perform with Fanfares N’ Fugues, a trio consisting of VSO trumpeters Marcus Goddard and Ray Kirkham, and Wang, who will play the organ.

“I find the organ really satisfying, completely different from piano,” says Wang, who started playing the organ her fourth year in university. “There are 32 notes on the pedal board so I have to play with my feet and pull all the stops. Some people find that quite difficult, but I enjoy the challenge.”

She says that the instrument’s difficulty may be one of a myriad of reasons why interest in organ playing has been dwindling. “It’s more like a dying art,” says Wang who completed her was master’s organ degree from UBC in 1995 after finishing her undergrad in piano and conducting from TWU. “There hasn’t been any students enrolled in the graduate level at UBC for the past two years. There simply aren’t enough instruments around. The only place to see an organ is at certain concert halls and churches.”

In response to the decline of organ access and interest, Wang is educating audiences of a smaller stature. “I do demonstrations for school aged children, arranging songs like Twinkle Twinkle into different sounds so kids get a chance to learn first hand what the organ can do,” she says.

Date: Sunday, March 21, 2004
Time: 7:30pm
Location: Willingdon church (4812 Willingdon Ave. Burnaby)
Cost: No charge but a freewill offering designated for the musical scholarship fund will be taken
Contact: Ay-Laung Wang, 604-888-7511 ext. 3516

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,500 students this year. With a broad based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 38 major areas of study ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 13 other graduate degrees including counseling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

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Last Updated: 2015-07-20
Author: Keela Keeping