b.1949, China

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Chan Ka Nin is a distinguished Canadian composer who has written in most musical genres and whose extensive repertoire draws on both East and West in its aesthetic outlook.

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. 

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.

He is currently a professor of Theory and Composition at the University of Toronto

Artist Compositions


Premiere Title of Commission Listen
02/12/2006 The Weaving Maiden Listen Close

The story of the Cowherd and the Weaving Maiden, a tale of two forbidden lovers who are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month over the wings of magpies, is well known in Chinese folklore. Since the Weaving Maiden is from heaven and the Cowherd is of the world below, the music embodies the division between the celestial and the earthly.

04/27/1994 The Charmer Listen Close

As he contemplated writing a chamber concerto for oboist and Soundstreams Artistic Director Lawrence Cherney, Chan thought immediately of the oboe d’amore—and, in particular, of that double-reed instrument’s age-old association with snake charming. It was with that exotic quality in mind that he set out to compose this piece.