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Gum Sing Musical Society
Cantonese Music and Chinese Culture in Victoria
Founded in 1980 by Leung Kwong Yip, a professional musician from China, the Gum Sing Musical Society is an amateur group that learns and performs traditional operas of South China, reviving a tradition of Chinese opera that dates back to the mid-nineteenth century in Victoria. The society includes singers and a small orchestra. The musicians play instruments such as the two-stringed erhu, a butterfly harp played with bamboo mallets, a four-stringed yuen in the bass line, Hawaiian and electric guitars, and percussion instruments including drums and a brass gong. The society rehearses on Saturday evenings, preparing operas which they perform every two years as fundraisers. In these performances, the singers wear elaborate make-up that can take several hours to apply.
The performance hall of the Gum Sing Musical Society is located on the second floor at 557½ Fisgard Street (Photo by Charles Yang, June 2011).
Gum Sing opera singers Margaret Koh (left) and Frances Leung (right) wear costumes donated by Margaret Ma Ti-liang in preparation for a performance (Photo by Robert Amos, 2005).
Gum Sing musicians rehearse the music of traditional operas of South China. Their instruments include the two-stringed erhu or “Chinese violin,” a butterfly harp played with small bamboo mallets, drums, and the round, four-stringed yuen that is plucked for a bass line. The musicians here include Leong Kwong Yip, Benny Low, Betty Klee, and Henry Low (Photos by Robert Amos, 2009).
This poster advertises a performance of Cantonese music by the Gum Sing Musical Society in October 2009, at the Ambrosia Event Centre (Photo by Charles Yang, June 2011).
Amos, Robert and Kileasa Wong. Inside Chinatown: Ancient Culture in a New World. Victoria, BC: TouchWood Editions, 2009.
Chen, Zhongping and Charles Yang. Interview with Henry Low of the Gum Sing Musical Society, 16 June 2011.