A group of Cantonese opera singers are delighted to celebrate the opening of their new studio near IKEA in Richmond.
Members of a Richmond-based Cantonese opera group celebrated the grand opening of their newly renovated studio over the weekend.
The group – called Forever Young – made the Richmond News‘in the headlines last year, when we talked about how the members also played soccer and started singing an opera every time they scored a goal.
Victor Chow, the organizer of the opera group, said they used to hang out with some members to practice melodies before the pandemic, but COVID-19 restrictions forced them to look to the field instead of football.
Chow said the group were very happy to finally have their own studio to practice their skills.
“I also installed soundproof walls in the studio to make sure our neighbors won’t be annoyed by our practice, or maybe they call it noise,” Victor said with a smile.
Combining music, acrobatics, theatrical performances and martial arts, Cantonese opera has existed in China for over 400 years and has become one of the country’s best-known entertainment exports.
Another member of the group, Juexin Lin, said he lives and breathes Cantonese opera.
Born in Hong Kong, Lin was performing as an opera singer in Vietnam and Thailand decades ago, but political tensions there forced him to move to the United States before immigrating. in Canada in the late 1990s.
Lin said Cantonese opera gave him the strength to go through the most difficult time of his life.
“I worked as a dishwasher in an Asian restaurant in Chinatown when I came to Canada. I barely spoke English words and life was so hard back then, but I continued to sing in the kitchen while doing the dishes, ”Lin said.
“One day a client heard my songs and suggested that I be a Cantonese opera teacher, which became a life-changing moment.”
In addition to bustling about in the small kitchen, Lin tried to establish a career as a teacher.
And, after several years of perseverance and hard work, his efforts have paid off – with more and more students signing up, finally allowing him to let go of the dishes.
“I am grateful for where Cantonese opera has brought me and it has also shaped who I am today. When you feel like life is tough, cry a little, sing a little and laugh a little, ”Lin said.