Technology instructor wields musical baton

January 22, 2004, vol. 29, no. 2
By Terry Lavender

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Herbert Tsang will take the podium at the Ryerson United Church in Vancouver on Jan. 24 to conduct the Vancouver Chamber Choir in performances of music by Johann Helmich Roman, Niels Gade and Imant Raminsh.

Two days later he'll be back at Simon Fraser University's Surrey campus as an information technology instructor and PhD student at the school of interactive arts and technology.

Tsang says it's easy to separate his two lives. “Music and engineering are very different,” he says. “The language is different, the culture is different and the training is different. My passion for both fields makes life exciting.”

He first became involved in music as a child growing up in Hong Kong. Later, while working toward his Masters degree in engineering at Washington University (in St. Louis, Missouri) he moonlighted as music director and conductor of the Chamber Orchestra of St. Louis. In 1999, he founded the Sinfonia Mosaic, which he still leads. He is also music director and conductor of the David C. Lam Christian Hymn Society and the Port Moody Grace Chinese Church Worship Choir, teaches music at Place des Arts in Coquitlam and conducts at the Chinese Christian Church Music Institute in San Francisco, writes musicals and is a guest conductor with orchestras throughout the world.

The Jan. 24 concert with the Vancouver Chamber Choir is the culmination of a week-long national conductors' symposium. Five other conductors are participating, from Mexico, Singapore, Poland and the United States.

For Tsang it's a chance to learn advanced choral techniques and score interpretation.

Life will only get busier for Tsang after the symposium wraps up. He's writing his third musical, has two books in the planning stage, and is finishing his sixth CD, with two other recording projects on the horizon. He will give a series of workshops on music and children in February and will also teach conducting workshops later this year. “And of course, I'll also be working very hard on my teaching and in my PhD research in bioinformatics.”

He also heads a startup company, MusicCentric Technologies, a joint venture with SFU. Its first product, software to aid music directors and artistic administrators to manage their resources, is expected this spring.

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