Chan Ka Nin


Twice winner of Juno Awards 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 Béla Bartók International Composers’ Competition, Barlow International Competitions, 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, has 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 work, Pikä Talvi, (long winter) was premiered by percussionist Antti Ohenoja and a string quartet in Helsinki in January 2022. His Harp Concerto was premiered by Sinfonia Toronto with harpist Teresa Suen-Campbell in November the same year. This work will be recorded by the same artists next year. His “Welcoming Spring” was premiered by Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra under Naomi Woo in January 2023.  He is presently writing a flute concerto for Italian virtuoso flutist Luisa Sello.