First Chinese choir in Utah uses music to break cultural barriers

Dec 3, 2023, 10:31 PM | Updated: 10:36 pm

MILCREEK — There’s a choir group that’s bringing together people from Provo to Ogden, but their influence reaches farther than that.

As the Salt Lake Chinese Choir warms up, the different choral parts, Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass blend together.

Once the conductor takes the stand though, their voices meld and their unity sings through.

Choir members describe the experience like being a part of a big family.

The choral group originally started as a group of friends, trying out Karaoke.

“It was not our style,” said Fan Kwan.

How the Chinese choir started

Kwan took her group of 10 to 15 friends and founded what is now called the Salt Lake Chinese Choir.

“It was a before the Olympic Games and they asked our choir to sing some Chinese folk songs to celebrate Winter Olympics,” Kwan said.

The choir did sing, and they’ve kept meeting since 2002 growing to close to 60 members.

Yu Fen Huang is the choir’s director, and selects music in English, Mandarin Chinese and even Spanish.

“We try to find and bring a different repertoire and more diversity, and then bring the different music experience to share with our audience,” Huang said.

The arrangements are considered contemporary because traditional Chinese music is all opera, not choral.

“This art form is very new for the Chinese community,” Huang said.

The choir meets at the Christ United Methodist Church, which is a congregation that opened their doors to the community in spite of different religious beliefs.

“Our mission says we say to promote cross cultural understanding with all the communities in Utah,” Kwan said.

Choir members come from different nationalities in Asia: Singapore, the Philippines, and Vietnam to name a few. The rule is they don’t talk about politics or religion, instead they sing.

“The purpose is to bring peace to the world,” Kwan said. “I believe music has this immense power to enrich the mind and cultivate the love humanity in all human beings.

Their next concert is Saturday, Dec. 9 at the Christ United Methodist Church. They’ll use this concert to raise funds for the congregation’s organ repair as a way to express gratitude for helping give the choir a place to practice.

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First Chinese choir in Utah uses music to break cultural barriers